Getting to grips with the energy-efficiency workforce

Australia is in a better position to evaluate its energy-efficiency workforce thanks to a new report that provides definitions of energy efficiency work.

Energy efficiency definitions for the Australian Energy Employment Report was developed by the RACE for 2030, alongside the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) and the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC).

The Australian Government’s inaugural Australian Energy Employment Report (AEER) survey closed at the end of April, with the aim of accurately measuring Australia’s energy workforce to support the development of the sector. And the team behind the new report says although the inaugural survey will offer insights on the energy workforce in Australia, the next iteration of the AEER will provide a much more complete picture, particularly on the shape of the poorly understood energy-efficiency workforce.  

The new RACE for 2030 report will support the design of a second survey to more accurately measure the energy efficiency workforce. This will in turn help address the labour shortages currently affecting the energy industry and the nation. 

“For Australia to achieve its ambitious climate targets of 43 per cent emissions reductions by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050, an appropriately sized and skilled energy – and energy efficiency – workforce is essential,”  says RACE for 2030 CEO Jon Jutsen.

According to EEC Head of Projects Holly Taylor, energy-efficiency products and services – and the skilled workforce that provides them to Australian businesses and households – are essential to delivering the energy transition at low cost.

“This new research, aptly led by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, is essential to accurately counting energy efficiency jobs in the AEER, supporting government with developing policies and programs that address the critical labour shortages in our sector,” she says.

Jay Rutovitz, Research Director at ISF, highlights the importance of accurately counting energy efficiency in the AEER.

“Solid workforce data is the essential foundation for the projections and associated planning we need to implement the energy transition,”  she says.

“This new research enables the second iteration of the AEER to be appropriately designed to measure the energy efficiency workforce. It provides clear definitions for what can be reasonably counted as ‘energy efficiency’, supporting accurate data collection and analysis.” 

The report was a key recommendation of the 2021 report Developing the future energy workforce opportunity assessment. It involved extensive research and stakeholder consultation that included representatives from government and industry with expertise in energy efficiency, electrification and demand flexibility – all of which are considered energy efficiency for the purposes of AEER.  

“The adage ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ is often said by energy-efficiency enthusiasts, and this maxim cuts through just as clearly when talking about workforce development,” says Jutsen. “This report is pivotal to understanding the energy efficiency workforce, and where more attention is needed to build employment and skills.” 

The report is available at the RACE for 2030 website.

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