There aren’t enough people with the necessary technical qualifications to electrify the economy.

Relative to other means of decarbonisation, electrification benefits from a large existing skilled workforce and a variety of measures and infrastructure that are already in place to help address future skills and capacity needs.

Decarbonisation will reshape the economy and, with it, the skills required of the workforce. The skills needed for electrification are, in general, not new, but match those of the roughly 1.8 million European professionals already employed by electrical contractors. Indeed, 1 in every 134 existing workers is employed in this sector. This makes meeting the labour needs of the energy transition far easier and it ensures that even genuinely ‘new’ jobs can be filled by upskilling the existing workforce. It also helps that the training infrastructure required is likely already in place since workers in the sector are trained in a variety of institutions that include both electro-technical schools and tertiary education institutions.

This is not to say that the current workforce is, by itself, sufficient – more workers and new combinations of skills will be needed – but here too, the sector is already preparing itself for the future. In 2020, new European sectoral skill alliances were launched to support the skills needed for both the electro-mobility battery industry and digitalisation in the energy value chain. In addition, several national electrical contractors’ associations are already working in cooperation with education agencies and employment institutions to improve paths into the sector. This includes ZVEH in Germany, which is working to reform vocational education and training paths into the sector, and FFIE and SERCE in France, which are engaged in a multi-stakeholder initiative to adapt the relevant qualifications to meet future skills needs.

References:

EuropeOn, “A Snapshot of the Electrical Contracting Sector in Europe,” 2019, 3, https://europe-on.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/EuropeOn-sector-report-3_compressed-2.pdf.

European Commission, “Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion - European Commission,” accessed April 14, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1415&langId=en.