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Government Expert Group report highlights the unreality of zero-carbon ambitions

A new Report from the Government’s advisory Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) has laid bare the scale of the skills challenges that need to be addressed if Ireland is to meet its target of becoming a zero-carbon economy by 2030.

On the roll-out of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles alone, the Expert Group has found that from an analysis of Home Charging Data provided by the SEAI only 1 home charger has been installed for every 4 electric vehicles in use to date.

Based on this, the Expert Group say Ireland would have to make approximately 50,000 chargers available for installation each year up to 2030.

The Expert Group also noted however that as this is only based on data for home chargers that are supported by the SEAI, the true ratio may be higher.

The report also notes that there is currently a lack of any firm targets for on-street and fast charging infrastructure and that this makes it difficult to forecast labour demand for non-domestic charging infrastructure beyond 2025.

In terms of retrofit scenarios for the domestic residential sectors use of heat pump installations, and domestic solar PV installations, it was found that there would have to be a significant ramp-up of activity between 2021 and 2024, before needing to hit an annual peak of 56,000 retrofits, 43,000 heat pump installations, and 28,000 domestic solar PV installations between 2025 and 2030.

The rate of domestic retrofits for 2021 is just 13,000. This would mean that there would have to be at least a 300% on the 2021 rate.

The scenario is even more challenging in terms of heat pump and solar panel installations given that in 2021 it is estimated that there were just above 10,000 installations with solar panel installations well below that.

The Expert Group suggests that by the end of the decade, an additional 9,500 engineers across all disciplines will need to enter the profession and remain in the state to meet the relevant skills demand and to replace those leaving the sector.

It also accepts that there does appear to be a shortage of engineers with the necessary skills and experience to work in the sector at present.

A similar finding was also made with respect to the Environment, Planning, and Legal Professionals that are needed for a zero-carbon economy.

While there does not appear to be a labour shortage relative to overall supply from the Higher Education Institutes supply, the Expert Group found that there does appear to be a shortage of professionals with the necessary skills and experience to work in the sector.

The same is also true of Construction, in that while formal labour supply indicators are not available for many construction occupations, it is likely that there will be labour shortages among general construction occupations relative to the projected increase in demand.

Most notably however the Report finds that there appears to be significant labour and skills shortages among most craft & retrofit occupations relative to current supply indicators. The Expert Group say that this shortage will be particularly acute in the middle of the decade, when retrofit targets are expected to reach their maximum output.

The Group also say that there is a disparity in the numbers completing apprenticeships, and the low numbers subsequently undertaking further training to work in the retrofit sector (e.g. heat pump installation training for plumbers.)

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