30,000 more people needed if climate goals are to be reached
Tens of thousands of specialized workers will be needed if the Netherlands wants to achieve its climate goals. The worker shortage tops 30,000 research agency Ecorys warned in a report by BNR.
The Cabinet’s goal to reduce CO2 emission by 60 percent by 2030 is more ambitious than the previous Cabinet's plan, which had a target of 49 percent. This is why more people are needed, according to Menno van Benthem, a senior consultant at Ecorys.
People who can install solar panels, wind turbines, and charging stations are particularly sought after. However, while demand is high, there are fewer and fewer young people entering into technical training. It is predicted that the number of technology students in secondary vocational education (MBO) will decrease by 11 percent in the coming years. The origin of the problem is mainly demographic: birth rates are falling in the Netherlands, meaning fewer people enter education. There is often also a stigma attached to vocational training, BNR reported.
The urgent gap in workforce is hard to fill in the short term because recruiting and training take time. This has a direct impact on the timeframe of the Cabinet’s climate goals. In the short term, employing labor migrants and unemployed people could help, but in the long term, more people need to enroll in technology courses, according to Van Benthem.
Techniek Nederland, a business organization for installation companies and electronics and appliance retailers, was previously in favor of implementing a fixed number of MBO courses for professions where there is little demand. However, Van Benthem emphasized the importance of encouraging students. “You can set limits in some areas, as the Techniek Nederland suggests, but it is more important to stimulate people in a positive way. Make a clear link with the work that people will carry out later.”
Van Benthem also drew attention to the government’s current lack of clarity on technical career paths. “The government must also clearly map out the path, push parties forward and say, 'This is what we expect from you, get to work on it.'" However, there is uncertainty for companies and training courses about what sustainable energy systems will look like in the future. Consequently, it is not yet clear exactly how many people will be needed.