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News & Events

Expert Group on Future Skills Needs report identifies Skills Needs to support delivery of Climate Action Plan over the coming decade

  • Government advisory report identifies skills required to deliver on key Climate Action Plan targets over the decade to 2030

  • Study identifies nature and potential demand for skills within the Renewable Energy, Residential Retrofit and Electric Vehicle sectors

  • 30 recommendations to ensure the sectors can deliver on renewable energy, built environment energy efficiency and sustainable transport priorities over next ten years

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, and Minister of State for Communications and the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD today launched a new report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) – ‘Skills for Zero Carbon – The Demand for Renewable Energy, Residential Retrofit and Electric Vehicle Deployment Skills to 2030’.

This report was developed in the context of the need to urgently accelerate the transition to a Zero Carbon Economy, as reflected in the binding targets for emissions reduction over the next decade, and ultimately, carbon neutrality by 2050. In Ireland this will be driven by the Government’s Climate Action Plan and the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, which seeks to achieve steep reductions in Ireland’s carbon emissions by 2030.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs report outlines recommendations for consideration with regard to the overall delivery of  the Climate Action Plan in that 10-year timeframe, in areas it identifies as representing “Zero Carbon” activities: 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.

The report advises on the nature and quantity of the skills required by these Zero Carbon sectors over the next decade, and will help inform the broader response put in place in order to deliver on the targets set for renewable energy generation, built environment energy efficiency and sustainable transport.

Skills for Zero Carbon was informed by a comprehensive consultation exercise with enterprises and key informants from across the Renewable Energy, Retrofit and Electric Vehicle sectors. The report defines the Zero carbon economy - the challenges involved and existing employment levels; sets out the core occupations and skills; identifies best international as well as domestic practice for the development of Zero Carbon skills; and identifies a range of broader issues related to skills development in Zero Carbon activities.

From a skills perspective, the report details how the transition to a zero-carbon economy will lead to changes in sectors and occupations, the phasing out of existing roles, but also demands for new skills and competencies, as well as employment opportunities, in the new Zero Carbon economy. Consistent demand will be created across engineering, environmental, science and humanities and legal/professional roles, as well as in construction, retrofit, transport and logistics and electric vehicle maintenance.

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.

The report sets out thirty recommendations 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.

These recommendations were developed by a broadly-based Steering Group established to guide the progress of the study. This group was representative of key Zero Carbon and skills development stakeholders from across the public and private sectors.

Launching the report, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD said:

“This report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs is a timely and critical contribution to the Government’s understanding of the skills required to deliver on our Climate Action ambitions in the decade to 2030. These ambitions will transform our economy and society, impacting existing activities and roles, but also generating demand for new, more sustainable skills and occupations. Given the employment potential that has been identified, development of sectors such as Renewable Energy, Retrofit and Sustainable Transport, and the transition to a Zero Carbon economy that they signify, will also play a crucial role in supporting our recovery from the pandemic and the Government’s target of having at least 2.5 million people in employment in Ireland from 2024 - in excess of pre-pandemic levels. The findings and recommendations of this report can play a key role in realising this employment potential.”

The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD  welcomed the publication of the report and said:

“As Minister for Further and Higher Education, I welcome this report by Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. The Expert Group plays an important role in skills forecasting within the wider skills ecosystem.  This report will be an important input as we continue to drive forward on the transition to a Zero Carbon economy. As the Climate Action Plan and this report highlight, skills policy will play a crucial supporting role in delivering on our Climate Action commitments in the decade to 2030 and beyond.  Responding to the overarching green agenda will continue to be central to the work of my Department.”

The Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD said:

“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. 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 Minister of State for Communications and the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD said:

“This report from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs underlines how while the decarbonisation of the economy will impact sectors and job roles, it also has the potential for significant employment creation in some of the key enabling activities for this transition. The report sets out a comprehensive evidence base and roadmap for facilitating the labour market shift into emerging Zero Carbon activities, including onshore and offshore wind, solar energy and residential retrofit. As well as the welcome commitment of the Department of Further and Higher Education to respond to these emerging and growing skills needs, my Department will work with other stakeholders to promote the employment opportunities that will emerge across multiple occupations and sectors: engineering, environmental science, the humanities, law and finance, construction and transport”.

Chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Skills Need, Tony Donohoe, said:

“This Expert Group on Future Skills Needs report was informed by a comprehensive research exercise across the renewable energy, retrofit and electric vehicle sectors. 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. As well as the important contribution to be made by the State and its agencies, these emerging sectors will also have to ensure a proactive approach to building the necessary quantity and quality of its skills base. The EGFSN welcomes the Government’s intention, as reflected in the latest Climate Action Plan, to formally progress the implementation of the report’s recommendations with relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors.”

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 (egfsn.ie) and the website of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (enterprise.gov.ie).

Recommendations

Renewable Energy

1. 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.
2. Prioritise training provision for emerging occupations in Onshore and Offshore Energy and Energy Systems.
3. Facilitate the expansion of existing offshore and maritime training to meet the increasing demands of the offshore energy sector.
4. Engage with the fishing and other relevant sectors, such as the oil and gas industries, to source skills for offshore work.
5. 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.
6. Maximise alignment with industry needs and increase exposure to the Renewable Energy sector at third level for undergraduate engineering, environment and planning students.
7. Increase the availability and capacity of electrical engineering programmes to meet demand from zero carbon activities, in particular Renewable Energy projects.
8. 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.
9. 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.

Residential Retrofit

10. 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.
11. 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.
12.Improve the availability and flexibility of retrofit programmes in order to incentivise and facilitate employers in releasing staff for training.
13. 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.
14. Engage with and encourage the urgent upskilling of existing plumbers in the installation and servicing of heat pumps.
15. Explore the full integration of retrofit occupations within relevant apprenticeship programmes.
16. Continue to promote and improve the accessibility of apprenticeships to young people, including their role in addressing climate action.
17. Facilitate adult participation in apprenticeships and traineeships, in particular for general operatives within the Construction sector.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Explore the utilisation of public procurement processes to incentivise participation in retrofit training.
21. 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.

Electric Vehicles

22. 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.
23. Progress the incorporation of Electric Vehicle material into relevant Apprenticeship Syllabuses to secure longer term Electric Vehicle maintenance skills supply.
24. Provide and promote mandatory Electric Vehicle Safety Training to the existing mechanic labour force.
25. 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

26. 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.
27. 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

28. 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.
29. 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

30. Develop programme management and carbon accounting skills within Government to support change and the transition to a zero carbon economy

ENDS

Further information

Contact Expert Group on Future Skills Needs at info@egfsn.ie

About the EGFSN

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) is an independent advisory group,  supported by a Secretariat housed in the Department of Enterprise Trade and empolyment.  The  EGFSN advises the Irish Government on the current and future skills needs of the economy and on other labour market issues that impact on Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth.

The Enterprise Strategy, Competitiveness and Evaluations Division within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment provides the EGFSN with research and analysis support.

About the Skills Ecosystem

The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has responsibility for skills policy.

Ireland has an advanced system of skills provision across Further and Higher Education, lifelong learning and human capital development, and under framework of the National Skills Strategy, which is agile and responsive to changes in the world of work, in order to address evolving skills needs.

The National Skills Council (NSC) and nine Regional Skills Fora (RSF), created under the National Skills Strategy, foster engagement and collaboration between relevant Government Departments and agencies, the education and training system, and enterprise. The broader skills ecosystem also encompasses entities including the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU, hosted in SOLAS), the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment) and the National Training Fund Advisory Group (NTFAG, DFHERIS).