Once more, EuropeOn’s annual conference, the Installer’s Summit, had to go digital. While we would have been delighted to host you in Brussels and network with all our members and esteemed guests, we were thrilled to be able to attract such interesting speakers and this many attendees. With our two sessions, taking place on 8 October afternoon, we were able to cover two of the most pressing questions shared by electrical and mechanical installers across Europe. The 2021 Installers’ Summit was co-hosted by GCP Europe, representing mechanical contractors.
Our first session, entitled “Digitalisation, new technologies, smarter buildings: what are the new areas of development for the European installation sector?”, went in depth into the most topical transformation for installers of building systems. Indeed, digital solutions, often also implemented to enable clean energy technologies, will need to be deployed at a much higher scale to meet our new climate and energy targets. And this wave of smarter buildings will sweep installers in its path as they will be key to install and integrate all the technical building systems which actually make them smart. As MEP Sean Kelly highlighted in his keynote speech on the revision of the EPBD, smart and flexible buildings are more energy efficient, integrating more renewables, and will also lead to the creation of new local jobs in the installation sector.
Digitalisation related to buildings can also encompass the construction process. Sean Downey, Director of ME&BSCA, showcased the benefits of using Building Image Modelling (BIM) in construction for increased productivity (helpful to double/triple renovation rates) and for reducing waste. On the other hand, digital buildings can also offer benefits thanks to the data they produce. Troels Blicher Danielsen, Administrative Director of Tekniq (Denmark) put the spotlight on local examples of installers tapping into the energy consumption data of public buildings to increase their energy efficiency. With fair and easy access to this data for relevant parties, buildings can be more energy efficiency and bring more consumer value while stimulating a renewed and digital installation sector. We also heard from Bernhard Dürheimer, Vice President of BTGA (Germany) on the importance of sustainability of buildings and in construction. Finally, Casto Canavate from KNX provided audience with more detailed examples of building automation and associated benefits, focusing on the integration between energy management systems and HVAC solutions.
Our second session complemented the discussions on digitalisation by shedding light on the main implementing bottleneck faced by the green and digital transitions: attracting new professionals in sufficient numbers. Electrical contractors, similar to several other construction stakeholders, face skills and workforce shortages that stand to be worsened as we seek to decarbonise Europe’s building stock. EuropeOn has long been calling for more emphasis on green skills and especially for more interlinkages between climate and education policies. This link was further explored by Tim Schreiber from the European Commission’s Employment Directorate in his opening statement, where he also insisted on lifelong learning.
Fortunately, electrical careers are poised to become increasingly attractive thanks to more modern and digital aspects, moving away from classical electrical work limited to wires and fuses. Alexander Neuhäuser, Deputy Managing Director of ZVEH (Germany) gave us a taste of what apprentices in the electrical sector can learn with ZVEH’s newly set up apprenticeship for ‘building integrators’. This new training curriculum was launched in 2021 to answer a growing demand for integrator skills, i.e. for workers who can handle and interlink the various aspects of a modern building’s electrical system. And installers will further contribute to the sustainability of our buildings by ensuring circularity in the construction and decommission processes. Pär Lundström, Senior Policy Advisor at Installatörsföretagen (Sweden), gave us a snapshot of the (r)evolutions taking place in this regard and the need for matching skills considerations.
Then, Claudia Reiner, Vice-President at Techniek Nederland and CEO of Caris & Reiner, and Jan Cromwijk, Project coordinator at the ISSO research institute, showed us how they are taking matters in their own hands. Through the EU-funded BUILD UP Skills project, they directly address these skills needs in the Netherlands (more on this here).
While it’s interesting to hear from experts working with electrical skills and training, we found it immensely inspiring to hear directly from Daniel Gerber, a 23-year-old electrical apprentice from Switzerland and 2018 Euroskills Winner. Hearing about his journey towards the electricity sector and his motivation in becoming an electrical professional showed us how a new breed of installers can be motivated to take up the challenges posed by the energy transition.
If you missed our live event, or would like to view presentations a second time, head to our Youtube account where you’ll find the recording of all our event!