The Pact for Skills: EuropeOn is bringing the electrical contractor’s perspective to European skills debates

As the Commission has decided to take new action to address skills shortages across the Member States and across sectors, EuropeOn has activated the #Skills4Climate campaign to voice electrical contractors’ needs in this crucial domain. With this campaign, EuropeOn has taken it upon itself to make the link between human capital or skills considerations and climate action.

Indeed, green and digital skills are in short supply but are a steppingstone towards climate neutrality. As extensive debate surrounds the technological pathways to our 2050 objective, the underpinning skills must be brought to the forefront of regulatory attention focusing on climate and energy. 

Fortunately, the Commission has decided to launch a timely initiative as part of the revised Skills Agenda: the Pact for Skills, bringing together all actors of selected value chains to address skills shortages (more on this in our previous Newsletter). Since its presentation the Commission’s employment directorate (DG EMPL) has been active in setting up this initiative that will be able to support European recovery efforts. 

Indeed, the Pact for Skills will first examine sectors that have been deemed most hit by the recent crises and lockdown measures. This included construction and automotive sectors, both of interest to electrical contractors. 

In the construction sector, electrical contractors are responsible for the installations that make buildings modern, both from a comfort and energy perspective. As we move towards nearly zero-emission and smart homes, electrical components will increasingly become more central to what consumers expect from their homes and buildings. Such homes rely on digitalisation of energy management and consumption and require advanced interoperability of devices and components, which will in turn require professionals with traditional electrical skills but, critically, also strong digital and programming skills. 

In the automotive sector, electrical contractors will be at the center of a paradigm shift that citizens have been waiting for. With continuously rising emissions, the transport sector needs strong policies to bring down emissions that have a direct effect on global warming but also on the health of our citizens. While the effect on climate is the most salient, health concerns should not be overlooked. It is even suggested that the healthcare savings from decreasing pollution-related illnesses could support e-mobility incentives. However, as the EU and its member states are planning for the mass deployment of charging infrastructure, it is paramount to consider the availability of skilled workers, able to install such numbers of charging points and handle the most advanced charging technologies, featuring varying degrees of smartness. Smart chargers will be necessary to manage EV fleets at system level and the scale of their planned deployment requires a value chain approach that considers workforce and skills needs, if bottlenecks are to be avoided later on.

The Commission has thus adopted the right approach with its Pact for Skills, which will organise roundtables across value chains for a collective reflection on the needs of stakeholder group and to devise the most effective skills partnerships, able to enact meaningful change in the employment landscape across Europe. Of course, some cross-sectoral partnerships will be needed as, for instance, the e-mobility ecosystem sits across both construction and automotive sectors, as most charging happens inside buildings. 

EuropeOn will be working with the Commission to bring the electrical contracting sector’s perspective on skills needs in the energy and digital transitions. After meeting with the cabinet of Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, it is clear that the EU has recognised this pan-European skills shortage and is ready to take appropriate action, in line with its competences. 

EuropeOn and its members are looking forward to engage further with the Commission and relevant stakeholders on the best way forward before examining the needed commitments that sectoral and institutional representatives can make. The latter will be presented during the official launch of the Pact for Skills in Berlin on November 10th.