15 partners from 8 countries work together in the FLORES project to foster the Pact for Skills in the Offshore Renewable Energies. In this series of interviews, we'll introduce you to the excellent team that works on the FLORES project. Let's start with IndustriAll!
Company/organization: industriAll European trade union
Interviewee: Sophie Grenade, Corinna Zierold and Judith Kirton-Darling
What does your company/organization do, in which areas do you normally work?
IndustriAll European Trade Union is a federation of independent and democratic trade unions representing manual and non-manual workers in the metal, chemical, energy, mining, textile, clothing and footwear sectors and related industries and activities. We speak for 7 million working men and women united within 180 national trade union affiliates in 38 European countries.
IndustriAll Europe and its affiliates represent workers in every EU member state in the entire renewable energy value chain.
We develop common positions on energy and industrial policies, collective bargaining and social policies but also company policies. We defend these positions with a single voice vis-à-vis the multinational companies, European employers’ organisation and European institutions. We promote cooperation between member organisations, build trade union power and develop common demands on workers’ rights, industrial, social and energy policy.
What is the role of your company/organization in the FLORES project?
IndustriAll Europe joined the proposed Pact for Skills in the Offshore Renewable Energy Sector with a strong support from many of our members coming from the traditional offshore oil and gas sectors, as well as the shipbuilding sector. They are keen to engage in shaping the transition of the current workforce and anticipating the needs for the younger workers.
We will mobilise our sectoral social dialogue committees on skills intelligence and VET to contribute to the FLORES analysis of skills gaps, to validate the project outcomes and also to transfer them to our members in order to ensure a large dissemination and use of the tools that will be developed. We will make sure that the voice of the workers will be heard when it comes to the challenges of the offshore wind.
Why being part of FLORES is valuable to your company/organization?
The Offshore Renewable Energies (ORE) sector today accounts for around 80,000 jobs and is expected to generate up to 54,000 new vacancies in the next 5 years across Europe. As in many other industries, we have a significant challenge to meet the increasing demand for qualified professionals with the actual skills of our population.
That is where the FLORES project expects to make a difference. Strong retraining and upskilling programmes should ensure that skills gaps don’t hinder the potential job creation. Indeed, the further development and training of employees is vital in the light of technological change. IndustriAll Europe is unequivocal that a just transition must be guaranteed for all energy sector and energy equipment manufacturing workers. Skills gaps are important to address in terms of up- and reskilling workers from conventional energy sectors or other industrial sectors that might see job declines. In parallel it will be important to attract a qualified workforce, especially young people and women to the sector, which requires high quality employment conditions that can be guaranteed with trade unions at the negotiation table.
Why do you think offshore renewable energies are important across Europe?
Renewable energy and its supply chain is a core part of the EU industrial and energy policies. Renewable energy will also be key to achieving EU climate targets. Offshore renewable energies – primarily wind energy – is likely to be a backbone of EU renewable energy, electrification, and hydrogen strategies, particularly but not only for coastal member states.
The manufacturing supply chain of these industries stretches across Europe and offers opportunities for industrial workers in regions further from the sea and land-locked countries. Done right, ambitious renewable offshore energy strategies can create millions of good jobs in many sectors, from mining, maritime, transport, and construction to power and manufacturing.
What are the main challenges we face to harness the power of our oceans?
- Need for a consistent energy and industrial policy, alongside ambitious net-zero climate and energy objectives, to ensure the maintenance and creation of good quality jobs in transforming existing and emerging new industries.
- Accelerate the rollout of grids and storage infrastructure in order to integrate the increasing share of renewables, including offshore wind.
- Tight labour market and skills shortages.
What can we do among the different stakeholders to address those challenges?
On the tight labour market:
- Ensure an individual right to training negotiated collectively and preferably guaranteed by collective agreement, to secure access to training for all, irrespective of age (young/senior), gender, level of occupation (blue/white collars), type of contract (open-ended, precarious)
- Ensure high-quality training leading to qualifications which are validated (quality insurance) and recognised (thanks to a qualification framework comparable between Member States)
- Ensure the obligation to elaborate skills forecast at sectoral/regional levels (e.g., local skills observatories) and at company level (e.g., strategic skills planning, incl. career guidance)
- Much major public and private investment in vocational education and training (VET). Workrelated VET (to adapt to one’s occupation) must be cost-free for workers and provided during working hours
- Full involvement of trade unions (and social partners, more broadly) in all skills-related initiatives/strategies designed at company, local, sectoral and national levels
- Flanking industrial and employment policies to secure that re- and upskilling lead to quality/sustainable jobs in thriving industries