The consortium developed a dedicated survey to obtain necessary feedback from actors across the whole energy system (electricity, heat and cooling, oil and gas, digital data), with diversity in terms of geographic location, size, type of organisation, and operational focus (DSOs, TSOs, suppliers, service providers, etc). The survey aimed to address the main challenges the industry faces towards the digitalisation of the energy system, the technologies and tools usage, the added value produced, and the new skills needed in the new digital era. Some key findings include:
- The lack of adequate skills of employees.
- Reduced costs are seen as the most impactful added value from digitalisation.
- Digitalisation is regarded as a key factor for enabling new and green technologies.
- Challenges are not particularly differentiated among energy system sectors.
- Acceptance of new technologies and privacy concerns are the main social challenges.
- Technology integration and data management are important technical challenges.
- The recent COVID-19 crisis underlined the importance of digitalisation in the energy system.
To keep up with the changing environment a multidimensional methodology was developed to address skill mismatches between the industry and the education and training providers, while also identifying relevant occupations and their respective requirements. The first step for the identification of skill gaps was the identification of the skills needed from the industry to tackle challenges related to digitalisation, as well as to prepare for the digital transformation.
The skill demand was addressed via another dedicated survey, which included the level of expertise required for specific skills, as well as the current coverage of those skills in the industry. About 60 industrial companies responded to the survey providing a clear overview of the skill demand in the energy sector. Moreover, 5 interviews with executives from the industry validated and complemented the survey’s results.
Another crucial parameter to identify skill gaps is the skill offer by Education and Training (ET) providers (higher education and VET). A survey was developed to gather information from ET providers regarding the skills and knowledge they provide and the corresponding skill level that a graduate is expected to reach while attending specific study programmes. 33 important ET providers responded to the survey. Industrial training programs and corporate universities were reviewed to see how the industry itself reskills and upskills employees. The analysis showed a discrepancy between current and future demand of abilities for multiple working domains, while digitalisation and technological changes are transforming the way of living and working.
The work performed by EDDIE partners to identify skill gaps, points out that the key areas towards digitalisation, as reflected by different analyses performed in this work, converge towards data management and analysis, big data, cybersecurity, and programming & development competencies. An example of the analysis is shown in the following figure.
Apart from the skill gaps and needs, a bottom-up approach was developed to map and select effective VET training and life-long learning programmes, which were created and delivered as a result of a need identified on behalf of the industry. Some of the conclusions identified include:
- VET programmes need to be redesigned to be aligned with the new EC Directives published.
- Current VET provision for the sector do not sufficiently reflect employers’ skill needs; they are based on somewhat outdated curricula that should be strengthened with more work-based learning and reflect the skill needs of sub-sectors.
- In this context, reskilling professionals of the sector is of equal importance to ensure that there are no knowledge gaps and that all professionals possess the necessary knowledge and skills
- The digitalisation of VET provision is an aspect that has been somewhat neglected, but needs to be revisited, better planned, and conceived outside of the strict context of online or blended teaching approaches.
- The effective and consistent collaboration of all stakeholders in the energy sector is imperative, not just for the enhancement of work-based learning (which prepares a market-ready workforce), but most importantly because the work towards energy sustainability should be undertaken by all the stakeholders involved.
- There is a pronounced need to enhance the capacities of the trainers and contribute to their upskilling to drive the overall change towards energy efficiency through training provision across the different target groups (from managers to government representatives, to households).
- The establishment of cooperation mechanisms among the stakeholders involved should be considered a priority, given that energy efficiency is not a matter that concerns a single professional group or just the consumers, but should be considered and undertaken as a community effort for environmental sustainability.