A new year and a new step forward for EuropeOn – Our President Martin Bailey’s outlook for 2023

After a full year as President of EuropeOn, I start this new year with confidence and high expectations as I know it will be another year of growth and achievements for our thriving association.

While my Presidency started in late 2021, I have been on the Board of EuropeOn for quite a few years and have seen the association flourish into a rallying point for the electrical contracting sector across Europe and build on this new strength to make our voice heard on the EU scene to an unprecedented extent.

Our collective work within EuropeOn has proven effective in raising the profile of the electrical contracting industry in Europe and to highlight our critical contribution to a smooth energy transition as well as our central role within the electricity value chain. EuropeOn can now count on 5 working groups, each bringing a contribution that is as unique as it is valuable, which made this success possible.

With the packed policy agenda, our Policy WG has been hard at work in 2022 to support the Secretariat’s outreach to EU institutions. I am proud of our achievements with regards to EU policies, which now better reflect the realities from the ground that electrical contractors face on a daily basis.

And I am all the more confident in the content we disseminate thanks to the backing of our Technical WG members. They have been just as active to make sure our people in Brussels have the most accurate information and bring the technical expertise required for diligent policymaking. Further, their desire to learn from each other’s experience and exchange on current developments is truly inspiring, especially for the years to come which will be increasingly demanding for electrical contractors.  

In 2022, our WG dedicated to BIM (or building information modelling) was restarted with great aplomb and interest from our members. I saw that many of our member association are increasingly tapping into new digital tools and business models such as the German E-Konfigurator which greatly facilitates client outreach for electrical contractors. I look forward to broadening the scope of this WG to enable us to explore more of what digitalisation can bring to electrical contractors.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve also been bolstering our work on skills and workforce issues especially in relation to the growing demand for electrical contracting work linked to the energy transition. This awareness-raising exercise has consolidated our standing as indispensable stakeholders for both policymakers and surrounding actors along our value chains. In parallel, we’ve also kept on exploring opportunities for electrical contracting businesses along these value chains, connecting our skills work with emerging business models that can set the electrical contracting sector on a new course.

This year, I want us to build on that momentum and capitalise on some of our previous accomplishments.

In about a month, we’ll make those two work streams come to life with two days of events in Brussels, where we’ll organise two workshops. First with policymakers to discuss ongoing EU Directives to which EuropeOn has contributed during the legislative process and share our insight into skills needs as well as our members’ experience with electrifying buildings and ensuring they are as green and efficient as possible.

Second, we have invited relevant value chain actors for another workshop this time aimed at working out the best way forward in this transitional time. With what seems to be an ever-increasing demand for electrical installations and technologies, it is our responsibility as stakeholders of the electricity value chain to deliver when consumers want to take active part in the energy transition and make the switch to clean energy. Skills and material shortages are systemic issues that need to be addressed by policymakers in the first place but it is key that we, as trade associations take matters in our own hands to the extent possible and push the envelope for the sake of our members but also of our customers.

When it comes to taking matters in our hands, EuropeOn is not just organising events. I am very pleased that we are now working with a consortium of partners across Europe, with the support of the EU’s Erasmus+ funding programme, to work out a qualification framework for electrical skills (see other news). This will contribute to better recognition and mobility of qualified workers within the EU and help alleviating skills shortages. 

The issue around skills and workforce is the defining challenge of this decade for our sector and it is critical that our European association can contribute to meeting it, even if this is indeed more of a national competence with strong local variations.

However, the EU has eventually also recognised this as a defining challenge and announced that 2023 would be the “Year of Skills” (see other news). While I am eager to see what this will entail concretely, this should at the very least give more momentum to our own endeavours on this question. My hope is that this Year of Skills contributes to further raising awareness about the need for technical profiles and education in the energy transition. It could provide a real boost to the narrative of EuropeOn’s #Skills4Climate campaign launched in 2019. It was launched to call for increased action at EU and national level to resorb skill and workforce shortages that could be exacerbated with strengthened climate target. Now, with the energy crisis adding on to the existing urgency of climate change, this campaign and its messages are all the more relevant and increasingly recognised by both public and private stakeholders.

As the year unfolds, I am sure we will find new opportunities to link our own advances on skills with the renewed political context brought on by the EU Year of Skills. I am positive that this can yield concrete developments for our sector and help us prepare better for the decade to come.

With this exciting outlook for 2023, I wish you all the best for the New Year and look forward to seeing you all in Brussels!