GFSE Policy Brief #13: Green Skills for the Youth

This Policy Brief argues that a successful energy transition must be driven by a workforce with skills and knowledge in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainability, as it will be accompanied by a period in which new jobs will be created, certain jobs will be eliminated, and a number of jobs will be transformed. Education and training systems need to be redesigned to align with national and international priorities to minimize negative impacts on employment and create opportunities for decent jobs that ensure social and gender equity.

In practice, the workforce lacks skills and hinders the effective deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. While technical skills remain critical, non-technical skills as communication, negotiation, and management skills are also becoming increasingly important.
Training programs should be embedded in a broader policy framework to incentivize skills, training, and certification and be accompanied by harmonized curricula and training certificates at an international level. Partnerships between governments, businesses, educational institutions, and professional associations are necessary.

Examples of such programs that help prepare the workforce for the energy transition are Canada's new Skills for Success program, starting in 2021, or "The National Energy Skills Accelerator "(NESA), a collaborative umbrella organization by 3 British Universities for accessing energy transition courses.

The Policy Brief examines four sub-sectors in which an increase of a workforce with green skills is necessary:

Mini-grids have significant potential to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy, especially in rural areas. To develop and operate mini-grids, mini-grid operators need a range of skills from project development to construction and operation. Many training programs are available, but they tend to focus on technical skills. These need to be complemented by knowledge and skills in other areas such as business models and finance, policy and regulation, health and safety, and data analysis. An example of an effective training program is the RES4Africa's Micro-Grid Academy (MGA) based in Kenya, a capacity building and youth development program that helps bridge the micro-grid empowerment gap.

Buildings consume large amounts of energy and still rely heavily on fossil fuels for their energy supply.  To achieve energy efficiency goals in renovation and new building construction, building professionals need to understand the energy performance of the building as a whole and take an integrated approach to building design, construction, operation, and quality control. The current lack of integration between the different sectors involved in the design, construction, and operation leads to a discrepancy between the predicted energy consumption and the actual operational energy consumption. An example of a training program is the FEEBAT "Energy Saving Training for Construction Craftsmen and Companies" in France launched by several ministries and agencies in 2007.

Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat from a renewable source from a cool space to a warm space and are therefore an energy-efficient alternative for special heating and cooling. However, the lack of skilled labor (designers, planners, and installers) significantly hinders the expansion of heat pumps. Quality training programs need to become more accessible, cost-effective, and provide up-to-date knowledge. The example of training and certification of heat pump installers in Austria shows how the existing workforce, especially installers and engineers working with natural gas heating systems, can be further trained to design and install renewable heating systems with heat pumps.

Sustainable mobility is necessary for industrialized and developing countries alike as it is an effective tool for shifting to more efficient and less polluting modes of transport. With the advancement of electromobility, job profiles in the mobility sector will change significantly, and the workforce's skills will need to evolve continuously. New skills will range from battery manufacturing, materials science, and electric motor to digital skills and the use of artificial intelligence for the growing importance of vehicle software. The Briefing describes the DRIVEN BY KIDS workshops offer children the opportunity to learn about the future technology of electromobility playfully and creatively as an example as well as the Austrian e-Mobility Check training program for electricians, electrical planners, and other stakeholders planning and installing charging infrastructure.

 Read the full Policy Brief here!