This article was published on July 11, 2023

Europe needs more skilled workers to build the green economy

Job seekers, take note of these upcoming careers


Europe needs more skilled workers to build the green economy

Last month was the hottest June on record globally and if the EU is to meet its ambitious climate targets to tackle climate change, it’s going to need more skilled workers.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, the continent needs nothing short of a green skills revolution if it is to fully harness the potential of solar and wind energies alone.

It’s not just the EU. The US has committed to developing the sector too, yet the supply of skilled talent there is also low.

All in all, it means those with the skills to work in the green economy are facing a bonanza.

New opportunities

The European Green Deal commits the EU to hitting net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In order to do that, the WEF estimates some 18 million people will need to be reskilled, with particular demand for skills in solar and wind energy.

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More than one million solar workers alone will be needed by 2030. Last year solar employment in the EU rose by around 30%.

The future looks equally bright in relation to wind. Just over half a million wind technicians will be needed by 2026 to install, operate, and maintain on and offshore wind turbines globally. “In the US alone, by 2031 the employment rate of wind technicians is projected to grow by 44%,” it says.

It isn’t just technicians. The market for data analysts and coding skills within the sector will grow too, adding to the already tight market for digital skills.

As the EU transitions to net zero, demand for new skills will rise across a wide range of industries, including construction.

Even prior to the pandemic, consulting firm McKinsey had predicted that the EU’s transition to net zero would result in an estimated 11 million jobs. Even though the transition would eliminate six million jobs, that’s a net gain of five million.

It predicts that many of the new jobs aren’t limited to renewable energy, but will be in agriculture and construction. The report also estimates that around 1.1 million skilled workers will be needed to retrofit existing homes with higher insulation, green heating and energy systems, on top of what new builds require.

Areas of investment

Certain sectors have been designated as strategically important to the EU, which therefore plans to invest in them. Consulting firm EY identified these as agriculture, hydrogen, building renovations, offshore wind energy, and the circular economy among others.

Indeed, the EU is investing in green careers on a historic scale, with one-third of the €1.8 trillion investments under its NextGenerationEU Recovery Plan and the EU’s seven year-budget going towards financing the European Green Deal.

The US is following suit, with last year’s Inflation Reduction Act being the most significant climate legislation in US history, offering funding, programmes, and incentives to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.

According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, global investment in clean energy is on course to rise to $1.7 trillion this year, with solar set to eclipse oil production for the first time.

In its reckoning, the IEA includes investment in renewables, electric vehicles, grids, storage, low-emissions fuels, efficiency improvements and heat pumps, as well as nuclear power.

Led by solar, it estimates that low-emissions electricity technologies will account for almost 90% of investment in power generation.

Consumers are also stumping up. Global heat pump sales have seen double-digit annual growth since 2021. Electric vehicle sales are expected to leap by a third in 2023, having already surged last year, the IEA adds.

This tallies with a new survey, which highlights a growing shortage of green-skilled workers across a range of sectors, from transport and car manufacturing to renewable power generation and even finance.

This makes perfect sense given not just the rise in (environmental, social, governance) ESG-related lending in the private sector but also the fact that at EU level, 30% of the bloc’s multiannual budget to 2028 has been allocated for green investments.

If you’ve decided to explore green sector opportunities across a range of industries there are loads of great open roles on the House of Talent Job Board.

Senior Manager – ESG Reporting & Management, Zalando, Germany

Zalando is seeking a Senior Manager, ESG Reporting & Management, based in Berlin, to support its corporate reporting and management of priority ESG topics. You will shape its future ESG reporting approach in line with new regulatory requirements under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

Sales Trader (Junior Level) Caely Renewables, Poland

Caely Renewables is looking for a sales trader to develop mid and senior-level relationships with top-class companies including utilities, generators, and industrials trading products such as renewable power and gas certificates and carbon offsets.

Business Development Manager Renewable Chemistries, Avantium Technologies, the Netherlands

Avantium is a pioneer in the emerging area of renewable and sustainable chemistry. It is looking for a talented Business Development Manager, based in Amsterdam, who can make a real and lasting impact on the commercial scale-up of a new renewable chemical technology.

To explore even more green sector opportunities check out the House of Talent Job Board

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