We celebrate World Youth Skills Day, July 15th, 2019.
Young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Women are also more likely to be underemployed and under-paid. That is why education and training are key determiners of success in the labor market.
To raise awareness of the need to invest in youth skills development, the UN designated 15 July as World Youth Skills Day. Skills and training in the energy access sector must be a policy priority, not a government and donor afterthought. Africa has set a goal of creating 25 million jobs in the next decade, yet of the 13 million youth entering the job market annually, only 3 million find jobs.
Ensuring access to sustainable energy
By 2030, 674 million people will still not have access to energy. That is why the UN Development Program established Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) as a key initiative for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and efficient energy for all by 2030.
It is anticipated that this initiative will have a net positive effect on jobs creation in the energy industry around the world. A report launched by Power for All with the support of the Schneider Electric Foundation presents the results of the first annual jobs census for the decentralized renewable energy (DRE) generation sector. Scaling this sector—now widely acknowledged as a critical part of rural electrification and universal energy access—requires a skilled, engaged workforce. Power for All thus conducted an inaugural jobs census in 2018, which captures DRE company employment data for 2017 to establish a baseline of data that explores the link between clean, universal energy access, Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), and decent work (SDG 8).
Four key research findings:
Up to 450,000 more jobs by 2023 – the DRE sector has emerged as a significant employer in emerging markets. It has grown a workforce comparative to traditional utility-scale power sectors and is expected to more than double by 2023, with more than 450,000 thousand direct formal and informal jobs in just 3 countries.
DRE employs many times more workers – the DRE sector employs 2 to 4 times as many workers through the informal sector. Estimates of productive use jobs in 2017 were 470,000 in India, 65,000 in Kenya and 15,000 in Nigeria.
Mini grids create over half of all DRE jobs – DRE requires a highly skilled workforce. In Nigeria mini-grids are projected to create more than half of total DRE jobs by 2023.
Women/youth play a big part in informal DRE – women’s participation in the informal DRE workforce is high taking up to 60% of informal jobs in India. In India and Kenya, more than 40% of the workforce are youth.
These insights highlight the job creation potential of the DRE sector, its impacts on gender and youth, and their skills needs:
- Globally – there are 1.8 billion people from 10 to 24 years old. Nine out of 10 are living in developing countries
- Nigeria – 50% are between 15 and 34 years old
- Afghanistan, Angola, Chad, Timor Oriental, Niger, Somalia, Uganda – more than 67% are under 25 years old
- 2 more billion – in 35 years the global population will grow by 2 billion. 50% will live in Africa
- A city like Paris is created every 10 days somewhere in the world
Access to energy empowers people
Training people in energy management creates opportunities for a local populace. Energy empowers people to do activities that promote personal development. It creates opportunities to study and work before sunrise or after sunset. It also enables cell phone use and access to the Internet.
20K new DRE companies needed – technology improvements will not provide benefits unless investments are made in local populations. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) advocacy programs, as well as the technical and business skills of staff on the ground, are emerging as critical success factors.
Need for skilled energy workers – to support the Access to Energy aims of SDG7 by 2030, up to 20,000 decentralized renewable energy companies will be needed. Solutions are ready to provide electricity to three quarters of those living in energy poverty, but we need entrepreneurs and trained workers to deliver these solutions. Our Access to Energy program has already helped train 200,000 underprivileged people, and our goal is to train 400,000 globally by 2020. We will contribute to this by partnering with international NGO Power for All, on their #poweringjobs campaign. This initiative brings together large and small companies, multilateral agencies, trade associations, research institutions, and civil society organizations, all with the intent to elevate skills and training to ensure universal access to electricity for one billion people.
To learn more about these developments, you can access the full census report here.
Luc Rémont is in charge of South America, Africa, Middle East, India, East Asia and Pacific, and Member of the Executive Committee of Schneider Electric since April 2017. He is also the Chairman of Gimélec, which brings together 230 French companies providing power and automation solutions for the energy, building, industry and infrastructure markets.