800,000 specialists wanted for climate neutrality

Hundreds of thousands of additional employees are needed for CO2 neutrality – in professions where people are already lacking. So how do you remedy this?

A maintenance technician hangs on a rotor blade of a wind turbine near Sieversdorf (Brandenburg) at lofty heights.

DGermany could not only lack the green electricity required for the energy transition, but also the staff. In order for the economy, transport, buildings and energy generation to become climate-neutral, it is estimated that investments of 2150 billion euros will be required between 2015 and 2050. There is a considerable need for workers to manufacture these capital goods: in 2030 alone there will be 439,000 and in 2035 around 767,000. 58 percent of them then have to be skilled workers. This is the result of an as yet unpublished short study on behalf of the Bundestag parliamentary group of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, which is available to the FAZ.

It is particularly challenging that 40 percent of the workforce required for climate neutrality is accounted for by professional groups in which the Federal Employment Agency has already identified a shortage of skilled workers, specialists and experts. The largest part relates to raw material extraction and production, followed by architecture, surveying and building technology. Another fifth of the relevant jobs are to be created in digitization professions.

According to the study, the most important “climate professions” include office work, mechanical and industrial engineering, building construction, corporate strategy and logistics. To mitigate this, the authors recommend a career or branch change, but this requires extensive qualification programs. More immigration and increasing employment of women and the elderly are also desirable.

70 billion euros investment per year

The paper is based on research by the Boston Consulting Group and the Prognos Institute, according to which around 70 billion euros have to be spent every year. “Implementing these investments for a climate-neutral Germany could lead to labor shortages,” warn the authors Jürgen Blazejczak and Dietmar Edel, who previously worked at the German Institute for Economic Research DIW. As a result, most of the money will flow into the growing environmental sustainability of households, businesses, trade and services, just under 690 billion euros or 32 percent of the total expenditure. This is followed by traffic with 655 billion euros, energy with 580 and industry with 229 billion euros by 2050.

The Greens, who commissioned the study, expect that the need for labor will be even higher because the calculations do not take agriculture, forestry and waste into account. The deputy chairman of the parliamentary group, Oliver Krischer, expects well over a million jobs. Climate protection is often viewed negatively, but not least it is a job engine and gives a boost to modernization. We now have to set the course for this in the trades and at the technical universities: “Otherwise we will have a high demand for skilled workers in 15 years, but not the appropriately qualified people.”

Gerhard Zickenheiner, who is responsible for sustainability in the parliamentary group, speaks of new professional perspectives: “In addition to good concepts, climate protection also needs skilled workers who put them into practice.” Money. “We want to introduce a right to further training and short-time qualification work,” said Zickenheiner.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Environment announced that it is developing a pilot program for climate protection contracts for the steel, cement, lime and ammonia industries, which will start in 2022 and possibly be expanded to other industries. With these “Carbon Contracts for Difference”, the state temporarily cushions higher operating costs of climate protection technologies, for example in steel production, provided that green hydrogen is used instead of cheaper fossil raw materials.