As renewable energy becomes increasingly competitive and sought after, so grows the demand for personnel that can build, operate and maintain the new technologies. This workforce requires manifold skills. In order to make the global energy transition a success, more jobs are created and even more skilled staff is needed. This applies to Jordan too, where a rapidly expanding sustainable energy sector can help to alleviate unprecedented unemployment rates. The Jordanian-German Energy Partnership is committed to tackling this challenge.
Meeting the energy transition’s workforce demand
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 42 million people will be employed in the renewable energy sector by 2050, 21.3 million in energy efficiency, and another 14.5 million in energy system management. In terms of staff, nearly four times the Jordanian population is thus required to carry the global energy transition forward. In order to match this demand with a skilled workforce, knowledge on renewable energy and energy efficiency must be provided on all educational levels and throughout society.
This process begins in schools, which have the potential to raise awareness on sustainability early on. It continues in high schools promoting innovative thinking and STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), inspiring young people to become part of the sustainability sector in their future careers. Finally, specialised vocational training programs and university courses provide the skillset needed for the energy transition.
Leaving no-one behind: The tool of education
When promoting the energy transition, it is essential to do so with awareness of the structural changes it will bring to the existing labour market as pointed out by the International Labour Organisation. Education can provide a tool to overcome socio-economic challenges that can be triggered by changes in the labour market. According to a 2017 report by Arepo Consult for example, phasing out coal in Germany will affect 13,680 employees in lignite mining – a just transition requires strategies addressing the future of these employees. Education - starting with high school courses – also presents a tool to promote gender diversity in the energy sector. Building upon transferable skills of workers in the conventional energy market will thus not only boost the energy transition. It is also key to preventing unemployment, inequality, and a populist rhetoric of “them against us” between the energy industries of today and tomorrow.
Education offers an opportunity to shape a new, accessible labour market in the energy sector. It must be inclusive, making use of skills of all people including typically underrepresented groups such as women, indigenous people, people with disabilities, mature workers, and low-income individuals. Education is a key pillar necessary to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include targets in gender equality, energy and environment. Training in the sustainability sector will reduce economic disparities and unlock a potential that is currently unused, yet needed by Jordan’s energy sector as identified by IRENA in its Renewable Readiness Assessment report for Jordan in 2021.
Employment in Jordan
According to the World Bank Group, Jordan is facing an employment crisis, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, which left 24.7 per cent of its working-age population unemployed. The situation is even more severe among 15- to 24-years-olds: Unemployment in this group reached an unprecedented 50 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020. Job creation, as well as training tailored to a newly developing job market is thus a key step towards economic growth and stability in Jordan. Besides a high national interest in securing employment for its people, the severely water scarce country is also keen to combat global warming and reducing its energy dependency (currently, Jordan imports 93% of its primary energy). Thus, building capacities for a flourishing sustainable energy sector is an essential puzzle piece to meet social, economic, and environmental goals.
The country’s huge potential in renewable energy and energy efficiency have made it a regional frontrunner in the renewable energy sector. Accordingly, Jordan is set to reap socio-economic benefits, including what is estimated to amount to 38,216 direct job-years created by renewable energy deployment between 2021 and 2030. Over 90 per cent of these jobs are associated with the solar photovoltaic industry, which will predominantly need staff to install, operate and maintain a growing number of installations. Additionally, renewable energy deployment and stringent energy efficiency measures are to create 111,692 indirect and induced job-years. The former refers to industries facilitating the implementation of sustainable energy policies, such as manufacturing cables needed for renewable energy installations, the latter to jobs created by the expenditures facilitated by the income of a growing renewable energy industry. Similar to what has been found for the rest of the world, a key building stone in a successful and just transition is human capacity. The Energy Partnership is committed to tackle this gap by facilitating capacity building in a range of areas.
What we are working on in this sector:
- The Energy Academy – TVET in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors
- Women in the energy sector – mentorship to foster an energy market open to all genders
- Innovation Lab – employment and capacity development in public administration
Further reads: .
Just Transition | International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd.org)
Foreign Policy and the Just Transition - Das Progressive Zentrum (progressives-zentrum.org)
Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2020 (irena.org)