Lack of engineers threat to Germany’s accelerated energy transition - association
Clean Energy Wire
A record number of vacancies in the engineering and IT sectors is threatening Germany’s ambitious energy transition targets, according to the Association of German Engineers (VDI) and the German Economic Institute (IW). A total of 140,000 vacancies in the engineering job market could not be filled in the last quarter of 2021 and the situation has worsened dramatically in the first quarter of 2022, with a record 151,300 vacancies. Presenting the first-quarter Ingenieurmonitor 2022/1 report at this year’s Hannover Messe industry trade fair, VDI director Ralph Appel said, “the shortage of skilled workers is becoming an impediment. Projects such as the accelerated energy transition are in danger of failing." Noting that German economics minister Robert Habeck is demanding a threefold acceleration of the energy transition, Appel said the lack of engineering personnel was especially alarming. "We are facing an energy transition dilemma triggered by the shortage of skilled workers." The IW’s Axel Plünnecke stressed that increasing demand for skilled workers could not be met. "For the next five years, 32 percent of all companies and even 63 percent of all companies with 250 or more employees expect an increasing demand for IT experts, especially for the development of climate-friendly technologies and products," Plünnecke added. The outlook remains gloomy since the number of first-year students in engineering and computer science has fallen by around 15 percent over the past five years. "The number of graduates can therefore be expected to continue falling in the coming years," Plünnecke said.
A lack of skilled workers could in particular hamper the pace of wind and solar power expansion, which was expected to quadruple in the coming years. In view of Germany’s changing demographics, the VDI is calling for immigration of skilled workers to be broadly simplified in order to fill the increasing vacancies.