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Webinar recording: Jobs and skills for the energy transition

By Platform

On 29 April 2021, the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform hosted a webinar on Jobs and Skills for the Energy Transition.

The webinar came at a particularly timely moment given the deal just reached on the first-ever European Climate Law that increased to at least 55% the EU economy-wide target on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and gave a legally binding character to the carbon neutrality goal for 2050.

The 'Fit for 55%' package that the Commission is expected to unveil in June 2021 to translate the enhanced target into sectoral legislation, such as the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Performance of Building Directive, will dramatically increase the demand of jobs and skills for the energy transition.

More climate ambition goes in fact hand in hand with the need to support the emergence of new jobs and skills as well as to implement upskilling and reskilling schemes for the existing workforce to enable the real breakthrough of energy efficiency and renewables in all sectors of the economy.

Local and regional policymakers have a massive role to play in ensuring that their territories do not lag behind in the transition due to the lack of adequate skills and gaps in the pool of energy professionals along crucial value chains and sectors.

This webinar, which was attended by over 110 participants from all corners of Europe, focused on the policy recommendations of the Interreg Europe policy brief on skills for the energy transition and presented a series of successful good practices to promote energy efficiency skills among different categories of workers. 

You can watch the recording and access the presentations below.

Webinar recording 

Webinar agenda

Navigate to the discussion topics of interest in the webinar agenda overview below.

Moderation and concept by: Katharina Krell and Marco Citelli, Thematic Experts of low-carbon economy.

00:01:45 Introduction to the webinar and the Policy Learning Platform services by Katharina Krell.

00:08:43 Presentation on the policy brief on skills for the energy transition by Marco Citelli.

00:22:17 Presentation by Velimir Šegon from the North-West Croatia Regional Energy Agency on the CROSKILLS project to strengthen energy efficiency skills and certification schemes of construction workers (BUILD2LC project)

00:34:10 Q&A: Could you explain why the project did not continue? 

00:39:05 Presentation by Ruth Borrego Andrade from the Andalusian Energy Agency and Laura Ramos de Blas from non-profit company ECOOO presented a training scheme for solar photovoltaic installers designed for people at risk of social exclusion (POWERTY project)

00:53:05 Q&A: What be done to incentives more structures like yours to do similar things? Is there something that public bodies could do? 

00:56:00 Presentation by Nathalie Richet from the Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centers (EUREC) presented their master programmes in renewable energy and sustainable energy system management.

01:05:33 Q&A: We can see of your students are from different nationalities, but not from Central and Eastern Europe. What is the reason for this? 

01:09:03 Q&A: Are the students mainly coming directly after their Bachelor studies or also professionals that return to studies later?

01:09:55 Q&A: Given the significant shortage of qualified renewable energy and energy efficiency experts in the EU do you think National Governments should subside the tuition fee subject to students working in the EU particularly if they are delivery on fuel poverty? 

Panel discussion 

01:13:06 Q&A: What do you advise to regions that need wish to increase their training capacities? 

01:19:03 Q&A: What do you think about the potential of cooperative energy communities for the creation of jobs in the transition and if you have particular thoughts on this in relation to coal regions and the jobs loss that will be the consequence of phasing out of coal and fossil fuels? 

01:25:59 Q&A: Do you have any suggestions as to how we can attract suitably qualified professionals from outside Europe to increase the overall talent pool in Europe? And if so should we have a European certification body to certify the qualifications of non EU professionals?

Key learnings

From this webinar, we can highlight some major insights for local and regional policymakers:

  • The energy transition does not happen overnight. Besides technology, it also requires forward-looking planning and investments on the workforce. Regional efforts in this regard can count on a supportive EU policy framework and significant funding that will help create green jobs and skills for the recovery and beyond.
  • Getting the most of EU support will be critical to overcome existing hurdles to sustainable energy skills development. 75% of webinar attendees declared that funding is indeed the most important factor for setting up training programmes and over 60% stressed that the training capacity for this skillset should be increased at all levels in their regions.
  • Training schemes to transfer new skills and enable the workforce to upgrade knowledge on energy-efficient and climate-friendly solutions through vocational education and training can be crucial in sectors like constructions, where significant gaps of competences may need to be filled.
  • Dedicated structures like regional energy agencies and skill development centers are very effective in driving the transition as they often combine the knowledge of the regulatory framework on energy efficiency and renewables with training courses and awareness raising and energy advice initiatives.
  • The best way for energy efficiency and renewables to step into people’s lives and SMEs’ operations is through adequately trained professionals who can provide initial advice, identify energy saving potentials and plan long-term improvements with households and businesses alike.
  • Projects like CROSKILLS in Croatia can inspire the design and implementation of training modules for targeted professions in the construction sector where energy efficiency competences can be trained and certified by qualified professionals in accredited centers. This is essential for increasing the overall attractiveness of jobs in the sector and secure the skills required to carry out renovations in a way that contributes to meeting EU climate and energy targets.
  • Public tenders for projects to carry out energy retrofitting of buildings should foresee the deployment of workers with certified energy efficiency skills as a mandatory requirement. In case of public-private partnerships, the private party should always be responsible for the training of construction workers to avoid risks related to poor project design that may put into question the service requested by the public party. Both mechanisms sustain the demand of skills for the energy transition and contribute to market transformation.
  • Training schemes for energy efficiency and renewables can also pursue social objectives. Synergies among different stakeholders such as not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises can be explored as in the case of ECOOO, Amoverse and El Zaguán in Madrid. Cooperation for transferring skills to individuals at the very margins of the job market may even lead to the creation of self-standing companies offering services like the installation of PV panels.
  • The energy transition requires white-collars too. University-level upskilling programmes such as the EUREC masters boost the emergence of new highly-skilled occupations, such as energy auditors and energy consultants, while promoting the upgrading of professional skills required by the existing ones, such as building facilities managers, architects and engineers. 
Image credit: Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash