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26 Jan 2021, 13:28
Edgar Meza

Building sector is key element of climate action and potential post-pandemic job engine - study

Clean Energy Wire

About 650,000 people could lose their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2021 and 2020, but the building sector could absorb almost a quarter of these workers with new jobs, according to a new study comissioned by the Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) and the Federal Association for Energy Efficient Building Envelopes (BuVEG). Since the building sector is hardly affected by the current crisis, the demand for skilled workers remains stable and is likely to increase in some areas, the study by economic research institute Prognos AG found. The challenge of attracting new skilled workers remains, however. “The climate protection goals in Germany require extensive investments in building modernisation,” says BEE president Simone Peter. “The potential for domestic added value and a considerable employment policy offensive is correspondingly great.” People who are less in demand or unemployed as a result of the pandemic represent additional potential. These are people who worked in a suitable job but in a different industry or people who have learned a similar profession.

The buildings and construction sectors are key for Germany's pledge to reach climate-neutrality by 2050. However, the energy-efficient modernisation of buildings has happened much too slow in recent years. Heating is one of the country's largest source of climate-harmful emissions. Nearly two thirds of German homes still heat with fossil fuels.

The study calculates that around 146,000 people could potentially switch over to the building sector from other industries and jobs. Skilled labour shortages in the building sector represent a risk for the successful implementation of the energy transition, the study notes. The successful acquisition of skilled workers is therefore of great importance for society as a whole. The building sector needs not only bricklayers and painters, but also engineers, electricians, office workers and IT specialists. BuVEG managing director Jan Peter Hinrichs outlined how large numbers of workers could switch to the building sector: “First of all, potential specialists must receive information about job opportunities in the building sector. Secondly, it is important to precisely qualify the specialists. And thirdly, we need measures to retain the new specialists in the long term.”

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