Energy work force gap takes on worrying proportions

(1st December 2010) Based on a survey of energy company CSR-reports the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) concludes that the forth coming workforce gap takes a worrying dimension. It urges the Council of Ministers of Energy (that is meeting this 2nd and 3rd December) to address this issue.

The survey published by EPSU [see the attachement below] examines the indicators on workforce age and coming retirements in energy companies’ ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ reports. The collected data indicate that up to a quarter of the workforce in energy will have to be replaced by the end of the decade. EPSU Deputy General Secretary J.W Goudriaan, the Federations’ energy spokesperson, declares: “This report shows that a generational gap in the energy workforce will hit Europe unless adequate measures are taken. The Commission ignored pleas of the social partners to include provisions on employment, vocational education and training in its Energy Strategy 2020; EPSU calls on the Council to make investment in Europe’s future workforce a priority”

The report investigated CSR publications from 23 companies throughout the sector. It estimates that up to 30% of the workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2020. Nordic electricity supplier Fortum has to replace 38% of its staff in the next ten years, the first European transnational transmission company Tennet will see 12% of its employees leave by 2015 and 30% by 2020. Companies like Delta, Rete, Axpo, Sepsa, Union Fenosa and Iberdrola are dealing with similar numbers. Some will be hit especially hard: RWE will only lose 8% in the coming five years, but by 2020 will have to replace about half of its personnel. Verbund loses 20% by 2015 and no less than 43% by the end of the decade. The company facing the most immediate threat is EDF, whose reports state that up to 40% of their staff will retire by 2015, particularly in nuclear.

Based on these results EPSU concludes that the electricity and gas sector faces a big challenge as a large amount of workers is on its way to retirement. EPSU is concerned that a lack of qualified staff will have a serious impact on Europe’s energy security, the quality of energy services and the prospects for ensuring a smooth transition to a low carbon society.

We therefore urge the Council to address this issue in the coming ministerial gathering on energy (2-3 December), where the Commission’s Energy 2020 publication will be up for deliberation.

For more information: Pablo Sanchez, , 00 32 4 74 62 66 33

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