Technological transformation, renewable energies, energy efficiency, green finance and sustainability, and customer orientation are the five specialties most in demand by energy companies in the context of the current energy transition, according to a study prepared by the Chair of Energy Sustainability of the IEB-Universitat de Barcelona.
The study places Spain as the second European country with the highest demand for energy professionals, after Germany, followed by France, the United Kingdom and Italy. These five countries concentrated more than half of the new jobs in green technologies in 2018.
"These changes are going to give rise to new professional profiles, such as electricity demand managers produced by new market players or new professionals with a strong technological base and data analysis skills"
The energy sector, which is undergoing a profound transformation, has to face processes of decentralization of generation, incorporation of new energy technologies and digitalization. "These changes are going to give rise to new professional profiles, such as managers of electricity demand produced by new market agents or new professionals with a strong technological base and with data analysis capacity, who will have to coexist with workers with average profiles, where specialization through professional training has a wide scope," explains María Teresa Costa, director of the study.
The new technological scenario is driving new professional profiles such as renewable energy project technicians, specialists in electrical networks in wind farms, specialists in photovoltaic systems, design engineers or experts in energy supply contracts.
Likewise, the drive for hydrogen and the digitalization of grids is also giving rise to emerging professions such as green hydrogen project developer, smart grid design developer or specialist in the integration of storage technologies.
And in the field of sustainable building and rehabilitation, new professions are emerging, such as installers of advanced technological solutions or information modeling managers for building; specialists in deep renovation of buildings; or energy auditors and managers.
"The net generation of green jobs must be the driving force to reduce inequality and poverty in Spain".
In a context of socioeconomic recovery, decarbonization and digitalization of the economy, "the net generation of green jobs must be the engine that allows reducing inequality and poverty in Spain, a country with high unemployment rates," Costa argues. In this sense, he recalls that the measures adopted by the PNIEC are associated with a net increase in employment of between 253,000 and 348,000 jobs per year during the period 2021-2030.
According to the study, industry experts argue that current regulated studies "do not come with the necessary skill set to cope with the revolution taking place in the energy sector," especially with regard to renewable energies and environmental sustainability. For this reason, they stress the urgency of updating contents, detecting training gaps and looking for new tools to keep the sector updated through cooperation agreements with training centers and administrations, as well as promoting the so-called soft skills in the degrees.
The experts interviewed warn about "the lack of digital, linguistic and communication skills".
Among the main shortcomings, the experts interviewed warn about "the lack of digital, linguistic and communication skills", and highlight the low presence of women in the energy sector, as well as the need to reverse this situation, promoting their participation in STEM careers from an early age.
Taking action on the risks to the labor market
The transition to a green and sustainable energy model is an opportunity for the Spanish economy, but every transformative process entails risks.
Among the most affected groups, the report identifies workers with low levels of training and skills; workers in obsolete technologies within the Green Agenda 2050 -for example, coal or oil-fired power plants-; and workers in the energy industry affected by the relocation of processes and with limitations on geographical mobility.
The most vulnerable group is that of people with a very low level of education, followed by people with low numeracy or STEM skills. "And within the group of people who are vulnerable due to their low levels of STEM skills, special attention should be paid to the older workforce and women," says the director of the report.
"The energy transition can be an opportunity to close the gap with rural Spain".
The study also identifies the economic dependence of some localities on their energy facilities, which are being dismantled as a result of the Green Agenda 2050. For this reason, it highlights that "the energy transition may represent an opportunity to close the gap with rural Spain, given the decentralized nature of a good part of the new energy technologies".
To try to reduce the impact on these groups, the ability to expand and renew skills and geographic mobility are two of the principles of action that can be implemented, according to the report. "The energy companies themselves often have their own training plans to smooth the energy transition and are aware of the existence of vulnerable groups," explains Costa.
Necessary cooperation between government, education centers and companies
To ensure that the energy transition is also a success in the labor market, the study argues that administrations must strengthen ties between educational centers and the labor market, updating the educational offer; promote soft skills in studies; advance in the challenge of STEM education; and commit to quality and innovative vocational training, among other measures. An example of this type of collaboration is the Naturgy Foundation's VET for Employability program, which works with the General Secretariat for Vocational Training, the Autonomous Communities, The Institute for Just Transition and the SEPE, in different lines of action.
"Workers must be made aware of the importance of lifelong learning."
For their part, companies must improve the retraining of their professionals; foster collaboration with administrations and other entities related to the labor market and training; strengthen Dual Vocational Training; and stimulate a greater participation of women in the sector. And finally, "workers must be made aware of the importance of lifelong learning," said Costa.
The report is based on the opinions of industry experts and an analysis of 12,000 job vacancies in countries around the world.
The report presented today is part of the Naturgy Foundation's outreach activities on issues related to the energy sector. All its publications can be consulted in the Knowledge Center of its website. The Foundation, created in 1992 by the energy company, also develops social action programs, with special emphasis on actions to alleviate energy vulnerability.