28 Apr 2022, 14:00
Sören Amelang

Skilled crafts and trades groups warn that labour shortages imperil energy transition

Clean Energy Wire

Germany's ambitious plans for making the economy more climate-friendly are in jeopardy because of skill shortages, a union and craft group alliance has warned. "The lack of skilled workers and the workload in the skilled trades threaten a successful climate and energy transition," said metalworkers' union IG Metall in a joint call with heating, electrical, carpentry and other trade associations representing a total of 169,000 companies with 1.6 million employees. In particular, the groups point to the renovation backlog in more than 19 million residential buildings. "With demand growing at the same time, especially for energy-efficient building renovation, there is already a shortage of up to 190,000 skilled workers."

The organisations said the government must back up its emission reduction plans with concrete targets for efficiency and heating decarbonisation, including concrete implementation steps and reliable support schemes for renovations. "In the course of their monitoring of the implementation of the climate targets, policymakers must also continuously and transparently assess the skilled labour situation," the groups said. Training and qualifications should also become a policy focus, they added. "Vocational schools, competence centres and educational institutions of the skilled trades are already working at the limits of their capacity in terms of staff and technology and need better equipment," the statement read. "Policymakers must ensure that vocational and academic education are of equal value." The groups also called for "digital ecosystems" to enable efficient cooperation between the crafts and energy efficiency consultants, authorities, and funding bodies.      

Buildings are responsible for almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. While the government is aiming for climate neutrality by 2045, it has missed the 2020 and 2021 climate targets in the building sector. Most homes are heated with fossil fuels and need to be modernised to lower energy demand.

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