More skills ambition in the EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan

Anxiety has been surging among EU stakeholders in the clean energy sector, after the US Inflation Reduction Act was adopted and it became clear that it could attract our clean energy industry across the Atlantic. In order to counter this push, the EU has released the Green Deal Industrial Plan.

While it was initially aimed at supporting home-grown industry key for climate neutrality, it also outlines a renewed ambition to work on the skills and workforce gaps facing the energy transition and the industries behind it. However, it has been criticized for being too vague, not bringing any fresh funds, and for the distortions that could arise from relaxing State Aid rules. It is articulated around 4 thematic pillars, each containing a number of ongoing or upcoming legislative and non-legislative initiatives. The first two are aimed at industry and manufacturing to ease administrative burden and permitting processes, providing funding (mainly by repurposing unused EU funds and potentially state aid).

The third pillar is the most interesting to EuropeOn as is centers specifically on skills. After 4 years of awareness-raising, among others with our #Skills4Climate campaign, skills have finally taken the centre stage in EU debates around enabling the energy transition. Under the skills pillar, the Commission aims to:

  • Work with Member States to set targets and indicators to monitor supply and demand in skills and jobs in the sectors relevant for the green transition. This is consistent with EuropeOn’s asks in the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
  • Propose the establishment of Net-Zero Industry Academies to roll out up-skilling and re-skilling programmes in strategic industries for the green transition and offer on- and offline trainings for sustainable construction.
  • Facilitate recognition of qualifications through Europass, enabling quick authentication of qualifications by employers and training providers.
  • Facilitate access of third country nationals to EU labour markets through an “EU Talent Pool” and a legislative proposal on recognition of qualifications of third-country nationals will be presented in Q3 2023.
  • Make Public funding opportunities possible for skills through the simplified state aid framework, EU projects and other funding instruments

EuropeOn has welcomed this new emphasis on skills and especially the will to monitor skills supply and demand, which has been a guiding ask for our work on the Fit for 55 package. We look forward to supporting the Commission in its endeavours to address this skills gap. At the national level, our French members SERCE are closely following France’s proposal for a ‘Green Industry’ law that also includes a skills and employment component and should be adopted by the end of June.