Brussels, 14 December 2022
EuropeOn along with our colleagues from GCP Europe, replied today to the Commission’s consultation on the upcoming European Year of Skills.
In short, we welcome the acute relevance of the 2023 theme and ask the Commission to make the most of this exceptional opportunity to concentrate efforts and initiatives in one clear direction: addressing skills and workers shortages in the implementation of the Green Deal and REPowerEU. Indeed, both strategies will be pillars of the legacy of the current college of Commissioners. A focus on technical education and careers, which are central for the success of the twin transition but often overlooked, is also asked for. The full reply can be found below:
EuropeOn and GCP Europe, respectively representing electrical and mechanical contractors across Europe, together represent the professionals qualified to make the green and digital transition happen on the ground, by installing and maintaining clean and renewable technologies.
We totalise a massive amount of professionals in Europe (1.8 million workers only for the electrical contracting sector). While we expect job creation in our sectors to rise thanks to the Green Deal and due to the pressing paradigm shift induced by REPowerEU, we however report worrying difficulties to find candidates.
Therefore, we welcome the European Year of Skills. This is a bold yet lucid choice. It is bold because the Commission has limited competence on the matter. But it is very lucid given that an energy-secure and climate-neutral Europe relies of finding the right professionals without delay.
The European Year of Skills has the potential to create a momentum by putting skills and workforce shortages at the top of Member States’ agendas. It can turn skills and workforce shortages to an opportunity : the creation of numerous sustainable, long-term, local, purposeful jobs in Europe. Indeed, this is not just about up-skilling, we will need to get onboard many workers from the next generation and from transitioning sectors.
EuropeOn and GCP Europe are calling for the European Year of Skills to clearly focus on the skills and workers needed to deliver the green and digital transition. More specifically, it should address one key and often overlooked aspect: the lack of priority given to technical careers and education, despite their major impact on the success of the twin transition. Indeed, IRENA estimates that for both solar PV and onshore wind, over 70% of the jobs are located in the segments related to installation, operation and maintenance, which are mostly technical jobs!
Across Europe, the conclusions are the same. Technical careers and education suffer from a lack of investment and attractivity, which are intertwined issues that will ultimately jeopardise the Green Deal and REPowerEU objectives as well as our economies’ ability to provide new and exciting careers for all.
To sum up, EuropeOn and GCP Europe are calling on the Commission to use the European Year of Skills to urge and inspire Member States to promote and incentivise technical careers and education. This could include:
- launching a Union-wide awareness campaign on “the doers of REPowerEU” that could inspire bespoke national campaigns,
- gathering Member States, social partners, education institutions, academia and all relevant stakeholders in a Skills Summit focused on technical careers in the Green Deal and REPowerEU.
Both asks are reflected in the Parliament’s report on the Energy Efficiency Directive, article 26, adopted last July.
Besides, we draw the Commission’s attention on another proposal from the Parliament (in both reports on the Renewable Energy Directive, article 18, and Energy Efficiency Directive, article 26), requiring Member States to regularly assess the gap between available and needed installations professionals. Quantifying the recruitment needs will prepare Member States to take appropriate action and would be a considerable achievement for the European Year of Skills.
EuropeOn and GCP Europe are at the Commission’s disposal to support any action/event along those lines. We will host relevant events in 2023, e.g. during the EU Sustainable Energy Week and at our Installers’ Summit in November. Our suggestions are in line with EuropeOn’s Skills4Climate letter that was co-signed by 18 like-minded associations and sent to President von der Leyen in March 2022 (see annex).