EuropeOn takes part in the Clean Energy Industrial Forum to discuss the shortage of qualified professionals to deploy clean energy

For the first time, EuropeOn was invited to a meeting of the Clean Energy Industrial Forum in the headquarters of the European Commission on 16 June.

This Forum is an informal high-level meeting bringing together CEOs and leaders of the clean energy industry with the European Commission.

Under the leadership of Director-General Ditte Juul-Jorgensen and Director Catharina Sikow-Magny, exchanges centered on how the deployment of clean energy can be accelerated. Clean energy is a cornerstone of the energy and climate policy of the incumbent Commission, as reflected in the European Green Deal as early as 2019. The energy and geopolitical crisis sparked by Russia makes it all the more necessary to deliver faster. This is where electrical contractors come into play, as the professionals responsible for making the green and digital transition happen on the ground… or on rooftops, as it is often the case when we talk about renewable energy!

For this meeting, EuropeOn was represented by Mr. Alexander Neuhäuser, deputy director and soon-to-be managing director of ZVEH, our German member association, and accompanied by EuropeOn Secretary General Julie Beaufils.

In the two hours of discussions, many topics were debated, from supply shortages and manufacturing to permitting, from financing to demand-side flexibility and the need for a predictable market framework. Very often, the Commission highlighted how they intend to tackle these topics with the tools provided in the Fit for 55 package and the brand-new REPowerEU initiative.

Mr. Neuhäuser was asked how to make sure that skills are sufficient to keep up with the increased production and deployment of clean energy. This really should be the question on everybody’s mind. Now that European and national authorities have defined clear targets for the energy transition and are removing many obstacles (such as long permitting procedures), policymakers must ensure that a sufficient workforce is available and adequately trained to turn objectives into reality.

Mr. Neuhäuser exhorted Commission’s officials to put pressure on Member States so that they make skills and workforce shortages in the energy transition a key priority, starting with technical education and careers. A successful energy transition requires investment in up-to-date trainings that are evenly available across territories, under the guidance of well-trained teachers. Europe relies on highly-qualified professionals who can advise consumers on the cleanest and most energy efficient technologies and then safely integrate them. This is why EuropeOn and its members are calling for quality trainings and consistently reiterate that short-term trainees are more likely to underperform, harm themselves and deliver unsafe installations. The skills and workforce challenge will not be solved in a few months but must be prioritized as of now, to satisfy citizens’ expectations for a climate neutral and job-driven Europe. Very importantly, technical education must be promoted at an early stage as an equally viable path as academic education.

In order to trigger a change of mindset on the central importance of technical training and careers in education and labour policies, EuropeOn is calling on Member States to regularly assess the gap between available and needed installation professionals. This could for example be realised in the framework of the reporting obligations set out in the Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives.

The Forum concluded the talks by adopting a joint Declaration on skills to raise awareness on the problems linked to skills and workforce shortage in the clean energy sector. This declaration will be sent by the Commission to Member States. It highlights existing initiatives and calls on all stakeholders to step up efforts. Among the existing initiatives, two of EuropeOn members’ endeavours are showcased: our German colleagues started this year a new apprenticeship aiming to train future professionals that can integrate clean technologies together. Our Finnish colleagues, along with wholesalers and trade unions, partnered to launch a new media campaign on electricity-related jobs for the energy transition. They aim to double the number of candidates for electro-tech careers and raise the share of female candidates to 50% by 2030.