For the Workforce

Co-funded by the

European Union

European Union flag
News, insights and events for the workforce
News, insights and events for the workforce
News, insights and events for the workforce

Navigating the Skills Transition for a Sustainable Future: A Visionary Approach

As the world races towards a net-zero economy, the need for a skilled workforce to drive this transition is critical. With millions needing new skills for emerging jobs in renewable energy, agriculture, and construction, the InnoEnergy Skills Institute is at the forefront, advocating for adaptive education and training. Partnerships with industry leaders are emphasizing continuous learning, while inclusive and localized strategies aim to keep pace with rapid technological and sustainable advancements.

Skills Shortage for the New Green Economy

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and a pressing need for sustainable practices, the global workforce stands at a critical juncture. The challenge isn’t just about addressing a skills gap; it’s about reimagining how we prepare for a sustainable, equitable, and technologically advanced future. This vision was the focal point of a session at The Business Booster by EIT InnoEnergy last October, titled ‘Labour: Skills Shortage for the New Green Economy’. The panel delved into the alignment of the workforce with the fast-paced changes in technology and sustainability. Esteemed speakers like Sailesh Lalla from NIIT, Frank Menchaca from SAE International, Riccardo Barberis from ManpowerGroup, and Henning Ehrenstein from the European Commission, led by moderator Oana Penu from InnoEnergy Skills Institute, focused on critical discussions. They addressed how education and training sectors must evolve to overcome the green economy’s skills shortage, guided by Oana’s probing questions on keeping pace with the rapid transformation.

Redefining the Skills Landscape in Europe and Beyond

The European Commission, as noted by Henning Ehrenstein, is tackling a significant skills gap that hampers economic progress. “About 70% of EU companies are not undertaking investments they would like to undertake because they don’t have the skilled workers.”


This stark reality has spurred the Commission into action, with the establishment of the European Net-Zero Academies and a strong focus on upskilling and reskilling in sectors pivotal to the green transition, such as batteries and solar. However, it’s not just about upskilling; it’s about creating an educational paradigm as dynamic and adaptable as the markets it serves. The journey towards a sustainable future is a generational challenge occurring at an unprecedented global pace. It places the power in the hands of the workers who are central to this transition, demanding robust involvement from all stakeholders and fortified partnerships.


“We’re just at the cusp of trying to figure out what the skills and talent needs across the industry are going to be,” adds Sailesh Lalla from NIIT. The insights from organisations like NIIT, SAE International, and Manpower Group aren’t just lessons; they’re blueprints for a global transformation. For instance, NIIT’s experience during India’s computerisation era mirrors today’s transition to a green economy, underscoring the need for skilled professionals in new industries. NIIT, originally a computer training company, emerged as a bridge between the existing educational output and the burgeoning demand for digital skills, exemplifying a successful business model that expanded globally. Today, NIIT faces a similar transformative challenge with the green economy shift, focusing on two key areas: workforce development for new entrants and corporate reskilling.


Their collaboration with institutions like community colleges and InnoEnergy aims to scale up skill development, while their work with corporations addresses the reskilling challenges in transitioning sectors. Bridging the gap between education and industry isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential for survival in a rapidly evolving world.


Similarly, SAE International’s reflections on the automotive industry’s shift towards green technology underscore the need for an industry-responsive educational model. Frank Menchaca points out that this transition is not only about technological advancements but also about addressing human challenges, such as the scarcity of skilled labour. Programs like Charger Help, which trains electric vehicle charging station technicians from disadvantaged communities, including women and people of colour, demonstrate the potential for creating a diverse green tech workforce.


These initiatives, which help people transition from low-wage jobs to higher-paying green tech roles, signify a pivotal moment in empowering underrepresented groups and fostering a more inclusive green economy. Menchaca’s insights align with the need for an industry-responsive educational model as the automotive industry navigates its transformation from traditional energy sources to a software-centric and sustainable future.


ManpowerGroup, with its expansive experience in interviewing around 10 million candidates annually, has a deep understanding of worker aspirations and the complex nature of the current challenges. Riccardo Barberis notes that there has been a significant increase in companies acknowledging a struggle with skill shortages for executing business strategies over the past decade.


In response to these challenges, Barberis suggests a granular approach to understanding and addressing the transformation. This involves identifying the specific tasks within job roles that are evolving due to the green shift, such as the 25-30% of tasks in the oil and gas sector that are transitioning to green technologies. Additionally, he emphasises the importance of adjacent roles and local insights in different countries and industries.


Echoing Menchaca’s insights, Barberis also believes that the role of diversity in addressing these challenges is a key solution. He advocates for inclusive strategies that consider women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans, drawing on examples like Rockwell in the US, which has successfully integrated veterans into the manufacturing sector. This inclusive approach is not just ethical but essential for the green transformation, especially as the demand for skills in this sector is expected to surpass IT needs in the next five years.

Vision for a Sustainable Future: Collaborative, Adaptive, and Inclusive

These organisations, in collaboration with the InnoEnergy Skills Institute, are not just reacting to changes in the global workforce; they are actively shaping the future of education and workforce development, emphasising the need for adaptability, inclusivity, and collaboration.

The future calls for a culture of continuous learning, where educational institutions and industries work together synergistically. The InnoEnergy Skills Institute stands as a testament to the power of this collaboration, driving a workforce that is not just skilled but visionary.

This transformation requires a visionary approach that transcends traditional models. It’s a collective journey towards fostering a global workforce that is skilled, adaptable, diverse, and sustainability-conscious. InnoEnergy and its Skills Institute is at the forefront of this movement, leading the way towards a sustainable future with a workforce that is not only skilled but visionary, adaptable, and inclusive. To be part of this change visit InnoEnergy Skills Institute website and explore how to contribute to shaping a sustainable and technologically advanced future.

The Business Booster 2024

You can already pre-register for The Business Booster 2024, set to take place on 16-17 October at CCIB, Barcelona. This annual two-day international networking event by EIT InnoEnergy brings together over 150 sustainable energy technologies under one roof, accompanied by a range of keynotes and sessions providing valuable insights into the world of energy transition.