New French academy to address skills gap in EU battery industry

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With the French and European battery industry expected to expand over the coming years, there is an increasing need to address the shortage of engineers and to expand the skilled workforce within the sector.

To alleviate the problem, a collaboration between the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT InnoEnergy) and the French government aims to reskill and upskill 150,000 people within the French battery storage industry by 2025.

The result of the partnership is the EBA250 Academy, which aims to prepare the French battery industry workforce with the anticipated market growth.

France has three Gigafactories which are currently in construction through 2023, a development that will result in more specialised engineers and technicians required within the local market. According to EIT InnoEnergy, up to 800,000 skilled workers would be required within Europe as a whole to meet the demand for batteries by 2025.

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Through EBA250, EIT InnoEnergy will lead an education-sharing initiative designed to achieve the mission of the European Battery Alliance of reducing the costs of reskilling and upskilling professionals. The initiative will focus on skilling technicians, engineers and researchers, on topics including electromobility, residential storage and grid storage, to recycling and data science. The education programme will be conducted online with some physical attendance at local training facilities.

The development is part of efforts by the European energy stakeholders to ensure the transfer of digital skills needed to support the digitalisation of the entire value chain, from factory automation with industry 4.0 to AI application. The project will help workers to transfer jobs from the combustion engine to the electric vehicle industry.

Reskilling the workforce will be essential in ensuring Europe meets its Green Deal targets by safeguarding sufficient battery capacity to be brought forward to support the electrification of transport and decarbonisation of energy.

Diego Pavia, CEO of EIT InnoEnergy, said: “The EBA250 Academy will upskill people who will design and operate the European batteries value chain, from upstream to recycling. It ensures we can deliver the annual €250 billion battery value chain by 2025, as envisioned in 2017 when European Commission Vice President Šefčovič launched the European Battery Alliance and mandated EIT InnoEnergy to lead the industrial ecosystem. It is also a leading example of how Europe is succeeding in addressing the upskilling of our people and creates the new added value jobs required by the green transition.”

Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the European Battery Alliance, added: “2021 could be another defining year for the European Battery Alliance – also thanks to our resolute collective action to address the fast-emerging skills challenge. The new battery industry requires a new set of skills. Reskilling and upskilling programmes, such as the EBA250 Academy, will therefore help match skills with labour market needs as well as reinforce the social dimension of Europe’s recovery. In this context, I am glad to see that Europe continues to be a global hotspot for battery investment. By 2025, we are set to manufacture enough battery cells each year to power at least six million electric cars.” 

Along with France, EIT InnoEnergy is already implementing the EBA250 Academy in Spain and plans to roll out the programme across Europe during 2021.