EuropeOn and Electrification Alliance discuss electrification skills with IRENA

In late June, EuropeOn and the Electrification Alliance published a report highlighting job creation opportunities in electrification as well as policy recommendations to tap into this potential. As the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently released a report on smart electrification, we all felt it would be interesting to hold an exchange of views on the workforce dimension of this topic.

Indeed, our report was released and presented at the EU Sustainable Energy Week to support calls for wider electrification to reach our climate targets while securing growth a high level of employment. EuropeOn estimated that by 2030 at least 270.000 additional electrical contractor positions can be created in Europe by doubling energy renovation rates, and 400.000 additional jobs related to the deployment of rooftop solar, heat pumps and EV charging points.

IRENA was represented by Director Rabia Ferroukhi, responsible for Knowledge, Policy and Finance centre, and her team. While our report is limited to Europe, IRENA highlighted similar findings from their studies which have a global scope. In all their scenarios, employment in the clean energy sector increases significantly.

Our group also presented the recommendations outlined in the report that can be summarised as such:

  • Make electrification attractive: provide more visibility to careers in electrification, and to the corresponding educational pathways.
  • Make it easy: ensure that the necessary skills and qualifications are accessible to prospective students, and electrification workers.
  • Make it pay: financial support is needed for up- and re-skilling, from both Member States and the EU
  • Make it real: education has to better fit the labour market, by dynamically adapting curricula to match innovation, and continuously assess and monitor the available workers and skills.

Our IRENA counterparts reacted positively to our asks and especially when deep diving into the need to make electrification attractive and easy to a more diverse sample of the population, with a specific attention to the gender dimension. Indeed, IRENA already published several reports adopting a gender perspective on the renewables sector. Their next job-related report will be their annual review on Renewable Energy and Jobs, this September.

IRENA also highlighted the baselessness of claims that lack of skills are an impediment to the energy transition. They contended that clean energy skills already do exist and are not based on completely new jobs profiles. While it remains to be seen how exactly these will be impacted by AI and digitalisation, the energy transition and electrification must be seen as a positive factor for employment and growth, as emphasised in the Electrification Alliance’s newest report.