Despite the weak economy, a shortage of skilled workers is a major concern for the German economy. The solar industry is particularly concerned, as it hopes for rapid growth – with a corresponding need for skilled workers.
The European solar industry is expecting a need for several hundred thousand additional skilled workers in the next few years. According to a report by the European umbrella organization Solar Power Europe (SPE), the sector in the EU had created 648,000 “full-time equivalents” by last year, mostly in installation and assembly.
By 2027, if the solar energy boom continues, in a “medium scenario” there could already be 1.2 million. The greatest need for skilled workers is therefore in Germany.
What is needed are mainly construction tradesmen for assembly as well as planning and electrical engineers. The solar industry is concerned that a lack of skilled workers could become an obstacle to the hoped-for rapid growth. “Too few employees in renewable energies mean that not enough projects can be implemented,” said Sanda Bozic, human resources manager at Baywa re, a large project developer for solar systems with branches in 31 countries and based in Munich.
A full-time equivalent is a common figure in human resources management, in which all positions are converted into full-time positions. The actual number of employees, on the other hand, is usually higher because employees also work part-time.
“Ambitious installation goals in almost all European countries”
Solar Power Europe is based in Brussels and is the European lobby association for 300 companies and national associations, chaired by the Austrian manager Walburga Hemetsberger.
Last year, according to the PES report, Poland was at the top with almost 147,000 full-time equivalents, followed by Spain with a good 103,000 and Germany with almost 96,000. But according to the Solar Association, this will soon change: the study authors expect Germany to have over 210,000 full-time equivalents in 2027. That would be more than a doubling, and the Federal Republic would move to the top ahead of Spain and Poland.
“The ambitious installation targets in almost all European countries mean that the demand for workers in the field of renewable energies – and especially in the solar sector – is increasing faster than elsewhere,” said Baywa re-human resources manager Bozic. When it comes to technical professional groups, the solar industry is in competition with energy suppliers, the automotive industry and even large IT companies.
Both the association and the company are therefore calling for more political commitment to make training and studies in technical professions more popular again.