Do we have the skills to deliver the green transition?

The short answer is: We don’t know. So far there has been little knowledge about what engineering and STEM competences will be needed now and in the future for the rapid green transition of our societies to succeed. However, the new report Competences for a Sustainable Future from the Association of Nordic Engineers (ANE) is…

The short answer is: We don’t know.

So far there has been little knowledge about what engineering and STEM competences will be needed now and in the future for the rapid green transition of our societies to succeed.

However, the new report Competences for a Sustainable Future from the Association of Nordic Engineers (ANE) is the first attempt to provide a unique picture, though quite specific, of the particular STEM skills needed to drive the ongoing and necessary development of a greener Nordic energy sector.

Across the Nordics, governments have ambitious plans to address climate change through a green and digital transition of society. And many Nordic businesses regard this development as an opportunity to become international frontrunners in developing valuable climate and energy technology. A crucial part of this transition is skilled engineers and STEM professionals.

Still, in February 2022, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) annual competences report showed that their member organisations lacked more than 10,000 new engineers with green and digital competences for the Norwegian energy sector[1].

A shortage of engineers of STEM professionals is not unexpected. For years, Nordic businesses, unions, universities, and governments have predicted a critical shortage of STEM professionals for the green and digital transition. But while the shortage was predicted, there is no clarity about the exact skills and competences needed from future engineers and STEM professionals.

We are now facing a technological shift that is most likely the most significant one since the second world war and this means that there needs to be sort of a rapid movement and very targeted efforts also from the political leadership […] trusting the way that we normally renew our education system – that is the major bottleneck because that system is not working when it comes to these volumes and this pace.

-Respondent, Sweden

The Competences for a Sustainable Future report is a small-scale analysis focusing on the future skills demand for the rapid expansion of the Nordic strongholds in sustainable energy production. The areas described include Power-to-X, wind power, batteries, hydrogen, biomass, geothermal energy, and carbon capture storage and utilization.

Based on the conclusions of the report, ANE’s expert working group has created a set of recommendations for addressing the skills deficit in the Nordics.

They make it very clear, that to close the gap between the demand and skills supply, Nordic politicians must invest in a full-scale analysis of the future skills demand, and incentivise stronger collaboration and knowledge sharing across borders and all sectors of society. The current silo mentality is not a viable solution for the future.

The report was developed by DAMVAD Analytics on behalf of the Association of Nordic Engineers.


[1]NHOs Kompetanse Barometer 2021 – https://www.nho.no/siteassets/publikasjoner/kompetansebarometeret/nhos-kompetansebarometer-2021—nifurapport2022-3.pdf