Skills Demand in Energy Intensive Industries Targeting Industrial Symbiosis and Energy Efficiency
2. Methodological Approach for the Pursued Analysis
3. Skills Demand and Opportunities Related to Sustainable Energy Intensive Industries
- Due to the green transformation, industrial activities are moving toward more efficient and less polluting processes and practices. This process, indicated as “green restructuring”, can lead to structural shifts in economic activity and therefore in employment.
- Structural changes, new regulations, and new practices and technologies lead to some completely new occupations. This implies the need to provide new training courses and an adjustment of qualification and training systems.
- New skills will be required in many existing occupations and industries in the process of greening existing jobs. This implies stronger efforts to revise existing curricula, qualification standards and training programs of education and training.
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. The Workforce in Industrial Symbiosis
- Strategic: openness to participate in a multi-stakeholder approach, flexibility and creativity;
- Financial: the creation of new funding opportunities for new business models and innovative projects;
- Legal: different and flexible approach to overcome legal barriers for new business models and cooperation agreements;
- Commercial: engaging in CE offers new selling opportunities to companies.
- Openness for information sharing;
- Co-creation and cooperation to involve different stakeholders;
- Knowledge of the composition and development of products (e.g., in developing innovative products based on secondary raw materials, residual waste or recycled materials);
- Management of a diversity of tasks;
- Application of innovative management tools to favor the transition to CE.
- Networking—collaboration facilitation: developing the cooperation and commitment of stakeholders to establish and maintain strong relationships among companies and with local institutions and public bodies. In this context, the facilitator should bring the different actors together, establish contacts, gather opinions and ways for actions. These activities aim at implementing concrete synergies.
- System thinking: the IS facilitator work is based on cross-sectorial and multi-stakeholder approaches. As IS networks are complex systems, the general approach consists in subdividing problems into smaller or subproblems, despite being aware of the general framework. In addition, using system thinking approaches, it aims at solving possible problems or discovering possible “hidden” shared value. This can be obtained by defining common and realistic circular roadmaps, visions, interests and action plans at territorial level.
- Legislation (and environmental economics and policy): facilitators should be familiar with EU, national and regional regulations, legislation and policy on waste management and circular economy to develop regulatory compliance, and, consequently, to lead the project in the right direction.
- Waste and recycling, environmental skills: IS facilitators should have competences on waste management, waste prevention, re-use and recycling issues to assess impacts of the project. This is fundamental for helping facilitators to make bridges between different sectors.
- Soft skills: the most important soft skills for facilitators are team management, the ability to question oneself, change management, active listening skills, thinking outside the box, being willing to learn, creativity and negotiation skills.
- Entrepreneurship: this skill category includes significant competences, such as the ability to manage interpersonal relationships, creativity and innovation, goal setting, adaptability and flexibility (resilience), time management, willingness to take risks and to learn, leadership and teamwork.
- Financial management skills: information on the main relevant co-financing instruments available at regional, national and European level is very important for the facilitator, who should be able to prepare and submit different kinds of funding proposals.
- Material flow analysis (MFA) and life cycle assessment (LCA): these competences usually require technical skills. However, facilitators should essentially be able to understand the results of MFA and LCA analyses and to be confident with data collection and management.
- Marketing—communication: in order to gain trust and convince companies and public authorities of the relevance and importance of IS, facilitators should be able to have effective and empathetic communication skills. Furthermore, they have to promote the project and disseminate best practice processes in an effective way.
- IT skills: IT tools and skills are important for helping facilitators to be more efficient and organized in different tasks (e.g., data management and ecosystem mapping).
- Increasing the companies’ biodiversity and involving underrepresented companies;
- Providing technical information for the potential use of available resources to companies to improve their abilities in reusing residues in their production processes in a sustainable way;
- Increasing the local stakeholders and control authorities’ participation in operative meetings to ensure a greater confidence in the symbiotic approach as well as a greater awareness of stakeholders of the approach potentialities;
- Encouraging paths not financially attractive but that can have a significant positive impact on the environment.
- Trust, openness and cooperation among firm(s) personnel;
- Strong social network ties or social capital;
- Knowledge creation and sharing;
- Embeddedness (cognitive and social).
4.2. The Workforce in Energy Efficiency
- The development of educational and awareness programs, that can influence individual energy consumption patterns;
- The implementation of policies and regulations that aim at applying the adaptation of EE practices;
- The introduction of incentive programs that promote the implementation of EE measures.
- Update or realign skills in the existing workforce, and those increasingly in demand (upskilling and reskilling);
- Develop training capacity and equip the young, and disadvantaged people with relevant skills, for their integration into the workforce (skilling);
- Develop supporting activities for the effective matching of supply and demand of skills.
- Education and training courses for technical skills development through vocational training and education colleges and apprenticeship;
- University level courses changing the existing content or adding new ones to meet sector skill demand;
- Continuous education and training on technological advancements and a basic understanding of technological problems, and regulatory and legal implications;
- International linkages in renewable energy qualifications to standardize skills and qualifications requirements across countries and to allow international mobility.
4.3. Training and Education Examples
- Getting attractive and up-to-date training adapted to needs and with a hands-on methodology, based on European cooperation;
- Benefitting from a more adaptive market-oriented learning process;
- Learning about Circular Societies sectors skills requirements and being able to reach a knowledge of existing different jobs and careers offered by CE in Europe;
- Having the learning opportunity in close contact with industries and through in-company training;
- Getting an organized and certified training in CE issues, that is not currently available outside the university curricula;
- Increasing the possibilities of employability due to business and academy connections, and VET figures;
- Obtaining the validation of learning units and achieved learning outcomes, up to the recognition of credits in the case of attendance of further training courses, thanks to the coherence of the training program with EU standard and templates of ECVET.
- The introduction of the training with module on basic knowledge and concepts: IS core concepts, basic understandings, theoretical frameworks and methodologies;
- The most important skills are: interpersonal skills—the ability to network, collaborate, think systemically, develop an entrepreneurship mindset and other soft skills. These help to overcome social barriers;
- The trainees should have effective communication competences, and facilitation and collaboration tools;
- Legal barriers can be overcome by an in-depth knowledge of legislation (e.g., waste management, waste prevention, re-use and recycling) at EU, national and regional levels;
- Political support and financial incentives: the training should also take into consideration the development of a module on financial considerations, funding opportunities and business model skills.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Branca, T.A.; Fornai, B.; Colla, V.; Pistelli, M.I.; Faraci, E.L.; Cirilli, F.; Schröder, A.J. Skills Demand in Energy Intensive Industries Targeting Industrial Symbiosis and Energy Efficiency. Sustainability 2022, 14, 15615. https://doi.org/10.3390/su142315615
Branca TA, Fornai B, Colla V, Pistelli MI, Faraci EL, Cirilli F, Schröder AJ. Skills Demand in Energy Intensive Industries Targeting Industrial Symbiosis and Energy Efficiency. Sustainability. 2022; 14(23):15615. https://doi.org/10.3390/su142315615Chicago/Turabian Style
Branca, Teresa Annunziata, Barbara Fornai, Valentina Colla, Maria Ilaria Pistelli, Eros Luciano Faraci, Filippo Cirilli, and Antonius Johannes Schröder. 2022. "Skills Demand in Energy Intensive Industries Targeting Industrial Symbiosis and Energy Efficiency" Sustainability 14, no. 23: 15615. https://doi.org/10.3390/su142315615