Achieving Ireland’s carbon reduction targets will generate more than 20,000 new jobs in the economy, the Expert Group on Future Skill Needs has estimated.
The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs report outlines the skills needed to achieve the overall Climate Action Plan within its 10-year timeframe.
This includes providing 5GW of offshore and up to 8GW of onshore wind energy generation, 1.5-2.5GW of solar energy generation, the energy efficient retrofit of 500,000 homes to a minimum B2 BER, the installation of 600,000 heat pumps, and the target of having 840,000 electric cars, and 95,000 commercial vehicles, on Irish roads.
“Having the necessary skills base will be crucial to supporting the ambitious targets we have set out in the Climate Action Plan, and ultimately, our transition to a Zero Carbon Economy”
The study forecasts that in order to deliver on the Climate Action Plan targets, employment in wind and solar energy generation will have to quickly increase to 8,000 (from a 3,000 baseline) within a number of years, and ultimately stand at 9,000 by 2030, while the workforce engaged in residential retrofit and heat pump installation will similarly have to ramp up quickly and increase more than fourfold (from c.4,000), to stand at over 17,000 for the remainder of the decade.
The existing motor mechanic workforce will meanwhile need to be transitioned to work on electric vehicles as EV uptake increases.
Retrofit and reskill
“This Expert Group on Future Skills Needs report was informed by a comprehensive research exercise across the renewable energy, retrofit and electric vehicle sectors,” said the chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Tony Donohoe.
“This engagement has informed a comprehensive set of recommendations for addressing the skills priorities for Zero Carbon activities over the next ten years, and which, as the report highlights, will require the full and urgent commitment and collaboration of all stakeholders for their successful implementation.
The report sets out thirty recommendations (see below) for Zero Carbon economy stakeholders to ensure that sector can deliver on the demands that will be placed upon it over the next decade. These are spread across six themes: (1) Renewable Energy, (2) Retrofit, (3) Electric Vehicles, (4) Promotion of career pathways in Zero Carbon economy activities, (5) Alternative sources of skills supply for Zero Carbon economy activities, and (6) Public Sector Programme Management and Carbon Accounting skills.
“Having the necessary skills base will be crucial to supporting the ambitious targets we have set out in the Climate Action Plan, and ultimately, our transition to a Zero Carbon Economy,” the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, said.
“As the Minister responsible for the development of the renewable energy, energy efficient retrofit and electric vehicle sectors, I welcome the comprehensive evidence base that has developed by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. My Department will work closely with the Department of Further and Higher Education and industry to ensure the report’s recommendations, and the identified skills needs, are fully delivered upon. In particular, my Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland will work to maximise awareness of the emerging career and training opportunities in Zero Carbon activities, to ensure the necessary pipeline of talent to deliver on our Climate Action priorities”.
The full report, ‘Skills for Zero Carbon – The Demand for Renewable Energy, Residential Retrofit and Electric Vehicle Deployment Skills to 2030’, is available on the website of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the website of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Recommendations of Expert Group on Future Skills Needs
|Coordinate planning for training and upskilling within the renewable energy sector, including through establishment of training partnerships or responses for projects between Government, industry and education and training providers.|
|Prioritise training provision for emerging occupations in Onshore and Offshore Energy and Energy Systems.|
|Facilitate the expansion of existing offshore and maritime training to meet the increasing demands of the offshore energy sector.|
|Engage with the fishing and other relevant sectors, such as the oil and gas industries, to source skills for offshore work.|
|Upskill existing engineering, environmental and legal professionals, electrical workers and electricians in zero carbon skills, including through micro credentials and other Continuous Professional Development opportunities.|
|Maximise alignment with industry needs and increase exposure to the Renewable Energy sector at third level for undergraduate engineering, environment and planning students.|
|Increase the availability and capacity of electrical engineering programmes to meet demand from zero carbon activities, in particular Renewable Energy projects.|
|Explore the creation of direct pathways into Emerging and Niche occupations in the Renewable Energy sector, such as Specialised engineering professionals, specialised ecology and environmental experts, legal and financial experts, project managers, Solar Technician and Marine equipment and ROV operatives, to stabilise supply. Also promote participation in the forthcoming Wind Turbine apprenticeship programme.|
|Extend the skillsets of the existing zero carbon economy workforce into areas including commercial skills, electricity trading, adaptability, digital and technology skills, health and safety, problem solving and effective communication.|
|Support job stability and longevity of careers in the retrofitting sector, by providing clarity on budgetary allocations for retrofit and by developing retrofit grant schemes that facilitate year-round activity.|
|Ensure that the required number of retrofit training places in nZEB Centres of Excellence, as well as other providers of retrofit training, are properly resourced and available to meet the level of retrofit demand in the coming years.|
|Improve the availability and flexibility of retrofit programmes in order to incentivise and facilitate employers in releasing staff for training.|
|Increase training for Retrofit Engineers/Designers, including through an increase in the availability and capacity of Energy Engineering or Building Services Engineering degree programmes, postgraduate programmes and CPD training.|
|Engage with and encourage the urgent upskilling of existing plumbers in the installation and servicing of heat pumps.|
|Explore the full integration of retrofit occupations within relevant apprenticeship programmes.|
|Continue to promote and improve the accessibility of apprenticeships to young people, including their role in addressing climate action.|
|Facilitate adult participation in apprenticeships and traineeships, in particular for general operatives within the Construction sector.|
|Enhance stakeholder engagement skills across the Retrofit sector in order to build awareness and trust in the benefits of retrofitting and to drive homeowner adoption.|
|Assess the benefits of developing a register of workers who have upskilled in retrofitting, in order to underpin consumer confidence and demand for residential retrofit.|
|Explore the utilisation of public procurement processes to incentivise participation in retrofit training.|
|Upskill the existing Built Environment workforce in life cycle environmental assessment and sustainable renovation. Also increase the emphasis on life-cycle environmental assessment/‘sustainable renovation’ in undergraduate and post-graduate construction professional programmes.|
|Engage the existing pool of motor mechanics and encourage and support their upskilling to work on Electric Vehicles, in particular through digital skills training, to improve the attractiveness of the sector overall, retain the existing labour force and attract new entrants.|
|Progress the incorporation of Electric Vehicle material into relevant Apprenticeship Syllabuses to secure longer term Electric Vehicle maintenance skills supply.|
|Provide and promote mandatory Electric Vehicle Safety Training to the existing mechanic labour force.|
|Explore the introduction of recognised certifications as a requirement to work on Electric Vehicles and to foster consumer demand.|
|Promotion of career pathways within Zero carbon Economy Activities|
|Define and promote career opportunities, and associated education and training pathways, in the zero carbon economy to school leavers, in particular females, career guidance professionals and parents through industry and government outreach and promotional activities.|
|Provide work experience opportunities for students and young people in zero carbon economy activities, including at TY level and through the new Work Placement Experience Programme for the young unemployed.|
|Alternative Sources of skills supply for Zero carbon Economy Activities|
|Promote career opportunities and skills mobility for zero carbon activities from other sectors of the economy through exploring opportunities for career pathways from or within sectors negatively impacted by the transition from fossil fuels or, where feasible, other factors such as the Covid 19 pandemic.|
|Engage in a communications and outreach campaign to attract skills for zero carbon economy activities from the Irish diaspora and the broader pool of international talent|
|Public Sector Programme Management and Carbon Accounting skills|
|Develop programme management and carbon accounting skills within Government to support change and the transition to a zero carbon economy|