Directives for Energy Efficiency and Renewables are adopted but the workforce dimension of energy policy still needs EPBD to materialise

In the past few weeks, we have seen the Directives for Energy Efficiency and for Renewable Energy (EED and RED) published in the official journal of the EU. Thus, they are on their way to Member States to be transposed into national law.

There’s a lot to look forward to: higher overall targets for energy savings and deployment of renewables, specific targets for public buildings and authorities, faster permitting procedures and more. EuropeOn has supported a higher level of ambition on all those provisions but what matters most to electrical contractors is to be able to implement them with a sufficient and adequately skilled workforce.

Fortunately, the Energy Efficiency Directive has made some extra room to provide a framework that could ensure that enough professionals are around to carry out these new targets. Under this new version, Member States will have to assess the gap between available and in demand professionals by the end of 2024. This provision was introduced by the Parliament’s rapporteur, Danish MEP Niels Fuglsang, who also stressed the importance of training and recruiting electricians all around Europe in a recent article in the Danish press.

This gap assessment will be the first step towards adequate action to attract new talents. Electrical contractors will have to face a significant increase in demand as a result of EU policies such as these Directives, which stimulate markets such as solar PV, building automation, EV charging, or heat pumps. However, they are already short-staffed and there are a few skilled electrical workers on the job market. For instance in Germany, there are now about 80.000 vacancies in the electrical contracting sector.

However, this new provision lacks a proper framework to carry out and report on these numbers, and subsequent action based on such data. This is where the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) comes in. Article 3 of this Directive foresees that Member States have to report on their plans to renovate buildings in a structured and detailed way, which encompasses several milestones and enablers. A key enabler is the availability of a skilled workforce and it should be a central part of these plans, as was proposed by several MEPs. The final Parliamentary mandate still includes some wording asking for a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the workforce which should be safeguarded at all costs!

EU policymakers negotiating EPBD at the moment have one final opportunity in early December to agree on the inclusion of the workforce aspect in this reporting tool. EuropeOn has urged them to take due consideration of this dimension and ensure that this is recognised as the key enabler it really is.

We will need an increasing amount of qualified workers to make the energy transition happen in buildings across the EU but this is by no means a threat. This is a massive opportunity to create quality jobs that are local, stable, and that’ll never require reshoring!