An estimated 23,000 to 28,000 additional workers are needed to meet climate targets. At the same time, the number of people with technical qualifications is falling at a similar rate. This is evident from research by Ecorys commissioned by the Dutch Sustainable Energy Association (NVDE). The energy transition is an opportunity on the labour market, but that requires a strong boost for (re)training. The NVDE advocates a retraining fund and the abolition of tuition fees for MBO technology, with an extra bonus for girls. Professionals deserve more appreciation and should also be given a title.

“The hard work on the energy transition is an important opportunity, especially in times of economic crisis, but it is also a critical condition of success for climate policy,” says Olof van der Gaag, nvde director. “Measures are needed to show many young people and retraining people how beautiful it is to work in the energy transition and equip them for it,” says Olof van der Gaag, director of the Dutch Sustainable Energy Association (NVDE). “In fact, with MBO technology you have a job guarantee. In addition, let’s abolish tuition fees for MBO technology and give girls an extra bonus. And recognize professionals by giving them a title, just like at HBO and university. Furthermore, we call for a retraining fund, for people who lose their jobs in the old energy supply or are now unemployed by Corona, for example”.

Research Ecorys

Ecorys has investigated the employment effects of additional climate policy. For this purpose, the established policy has been compared with a scenario in which the Netherlands achieves the target of the climate agreement (-49% CO2 in 2030) and a scenario in which the Netherlands reaches -55% by 2030. The scenarios are based on variants A and B from the recently published report ‘Destination Paris’ of the Van Geest working group. The current policy is based on the Climate and Energy Survey 2020 (KEV) of PBL, in which the Netherlands reaches -34% CO2 in 2030.

In the report, Ecorys estimates that these scenarios will create 23,000 and 28,000 additional jobs respectively (see Figure 1). These jobs are in addition to the existing growth in the number of jobs in the energy transition. In other sectors, jobs will also disappear, but there are significantly fewer of them and these people are not automatically qualified to fill the new jobs.

Figure 1: Labour demand by sector (full-time jobs)

While demand for people is increasing, supply is unfortunately decreasing. Especially for people with technical vocational training, this tension is already high and will increase further. The number of MBO students in technology is expected to decrease by about 24,000 people between 2020 and 2030. (Figure 2). The number of graduates with HBO technology is also falling.

In order for the energy transition to succeed, in addition to climate policy, active labour market policies are therefore also necessary. Tens of thousands of professionals are needed. These people, with their knowledge and skills, must eventually put the energy transition into practice.

Figure 2: Forecast number of MBO students in the Netherlands 2020-2030, by sector

The report therefore makes a number of recommendations (1) better use of existing supply (including by increasing labour productivity), (2) increasing supply through education and (3) reducing the mismatch between supply and demand, for example through retraining. The NVDE has previously advocated investments in education and training, attractive employment and support for mobility in the labour market with WENB and Netbeheer Nederland. Techniek Nederland has also recently come up with a plan to boost technical education.

Read here the report Climate Policy and the Labour Market – Ecorys, 26 February 2021

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