The climate as a profession: lack of skilled workers despite Fridays for the future | Free press


Thomas Herdt sounds very relaxed: “Basically, we don’t have to worry about a job,” says the 21-year-old. “Mechanical engineers have more difficulty finding internships or jobs.”

He studies at the Institute of Sustainable Energy Systems at the University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg. His colleagues Johannes Weber (26) and Simon Schmitz (24) received training in electrical engineering and building planning before starting their studies. This puts him in an even better position, says Schmitz. Even if there is no fear: “There are enough opportunities to work.”

Upon graduation, three students can help shape the energy transition. “Exactly these people are needed on a construction site,” says professor Jens Pfafferott. But while the climate issue is more important than ever and promises safe jobs for decades to come, Herdt, Weber and Schmitz are exceptions.

Cutting-edge technology and machine learning

“We have ten graduates a year,” says Pfafferott. “We’d have a capacity of 60.” The university offers, among others an internal climatic laboratory with a climatic chamber. In real conditions, students learn how sunlight is produced and how it can provide electricity, heat and cold. Thanks to the latest technology and machine learning – all geared towards renewable energy sources.

If you look at what the federal government intends to do on climate and housing policy under the coalition agreement, approximately 400,000 additional workers will be needed from 2025. This is what the report of the Institute for Labor Market Research and Occupation (IAB) says. But the more the bottlenecks in areas like construction, commerce and energy technology become, the harder it will be to meet the goals.

Professor Pfafferott sees a problem in the picture of some professions. “The fascination behind it doesn’t go away well.” Robert Pomes of the Baden-Württemberg Construction Equipment Technical Industry Association shares the same line: many wanted to do something like environmental management but nothing with ventilation or technical installations. “Where it gets specific, where you have to do a lot of research and implement things, we don’t have the people,” says the managing director. “We cannot introduce Fridays for Future into our workplaces.”

When it comes to protecting the climate, most people look at the environment and traffic, but not at buildings – CO2 emissions are huge here. But it’s not that sexy, Pomes suspects. Moreover, many professions are not so well known. – You know you can study medicine even if your father is not a doctor. There is nothing you can do with the technical system planner if you don’t know anyone.

7.1 million jobs thanks to measures to protect the climate

Climate plays a role in an increasing number of professions. IAB researcher Markus Janser found that the number of jobs related to ‘climate protection action’ increased from 377 to 415 between 2012 and 2020. Almost a third of all 1,290 occupations now have such aspects. As a result, the number of people employed in positions related to climate protection measures increased from 4.6 to 7.1 million. According to the expert, an increase of 53 percent. far outstripped overall employment growth over the period of 13%.

Janser admits, however, that the percentage of tasks related to climate protection is often small. Aspects such as hydrogen technology and fuel cells were simply added. “Actually, there aren’t many completely new jobs. But the performance of a competition is changing. ” Brand new positions are: Climate Protection Manager, Technician – Wind Energy and Agricultural Specialist – Renewable Energy / Biomass.

The deputy director general of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Achim Dercks, emphasizes: “Climate protection and sustainable development are changing all areas of activity – therefore these issues are important in all professions.” This is reflected not only in training, but also in further training. According to the evaluation, there is a particular need for qualifications in topics such as hydrogen, electromobility, balancing and CO2 reduction.

The policy has a theme of “criminal negligence”

The Green World of Work network shows how wide the spectrum is: from organic farming, through sustainable architecture and urban development, to green IT. “This is not a niche industry,” says project manager Krischan Ostenrath. The fact that there are not just a few green jobs is good news for young people. But these jobs are not easy to define: “Often you can do something green or something completely different with the same training.”

From Ostenrath’s point of view, politicians have “criminally neglected” the provision of skilled workers. The problem cannot be solved by financial means alone. “But we can throw all our climate protection targets in the bin if we don’t have any skilled workers.”

Hilmar John of the fokus.energie association in Karlsruhe says job opportunities are increasing, not least because of the numerous start-ups in the sector. “It’s a pretty safe bet.” However, there are still too few people in the so-called MINT areas, i.e. with mathematical and scientific knowledge. Pomes from the Industrial Technical Association for Building Equipment and Professor Pfafferott from Offenburg also complain that too few women are interested in the work. According to Pomes, if as many women as men entered the industry, it would not immediately solve the problem of qualified employees. – But it sure would help. (dpa)

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