• Achieving the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 requires a radical change in people's training
  • Italians still seem unaware of the opportunities the energy transition offers in terms of employment benefits and opportunities for the inclusion of women
  • The full contents of the study presented on December 12 during the proceedings of COP 28

Dubai,12December, 2023 - In order to lead the energy transition, a strong technological background is not enough. It is necessary to train new skills that combine creativity and problem solving, critical thinking and a multidisciplinary approach with elements such as an understanding of sustainability issues, the analysis of environmental impact and knowledge of alternative raw materials, the circular economy and renewable energy sources. Therefore, there will be more humanists among the engineers who will take the reins of this new transformation. These findings are contained in the study by MAIRE Foundation, the foundation of the MAIRE Group, presented during the COP 28 proceedings as part of a panel discussion led by Ilaria Catastini, General Manager, MAIRE Foundation, and Nando Pagnoncelli, President, Ipsos Italy. Participating in the proceedings were Francesco La Camera, Director General, International Renewable Energy Agency; Daniela Bernacchi, Executive Director, Global Compact Network Italy; Lorenzo Fanara, Italian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates; Divya Reddy, International Energy Agency.

The content, contributed by IPSOS, is based on 1,700 interviews conducted in 10 countries (Italy, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, India, Algeria, the United States, and Chile) with highly educated professionals and input from 15 experts at the international level.

For this transition to happen, there needs to be a joint effort made by all the players in the field. The goal must be not only to steer the energy transition process, but also to harness the wealth of opportunities that would be created in the area of employment.

Among the individuals interviewed, overall:

- 96% have heard of the energy transition and about two out of three respondents consider it a priority with a broad understanding of the fact that implementing this transition will create new roles and jobs;

- 83% said they needed training to improve their skills in the area of the energy transition;

- About two-fifths (37%) said that companies should prioritize the innovation of sustainable products and services.

    Italians demonstrate an excellent level of knowledge about the energy transition: 97% have at least heard of it while 60% report some familiarity with the topic.

    Just as in other Western countries (the UK and USA), in Italy the energy transition is not necessarily a top priority (57%) but is certainly considered a crucial area of engagement (41%). In addition, there appears to be less awareness than in other countries of the employment benefits and the inclusion of women that could be generated.

    In fact, in our country, only 37% of the sample say they are aware of the positive impact of the energy transition on employment, while 55% of Saudis, 63% of Indians, 67% of Algerians and 53% of Chileans are. Moreover, 18% of Italians surveyed know its positive impact on women's inclusion compared to 46% of Saudis, 51% of Indians, 32% of Algerians and 36% of Chileans. Nevertheless, a need for specific training also emerges in Italy, although the perception of its importance and urgency is, on average, lower.

    Conversely, it is the Middle Eastern countries, along with Algeria and Chile, that feel a greater need to focus on the skills training front. The fear, however, is that the progress being made is marching at too slow a pace compared to that of the transformation. Italians consider their country to be further behind in the decarbonization journey than others, only surpassed by Chile, Algeria, and Turkey in this regard. Efforts by government and private companies are perceived as less adequate than in all other countries of the research.

    But what are the skills required of these energy transition professionals of the future? They vary from country to country, but it is clear that technical and cross-disciplinary skills, hard skills and soft skills are all crucial and must converge.

    The emphasis on creativity (in the UK, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, India, and the UAE), problem-solving skills (in Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, the United States, and Chile), critical thinking (in the UK), and analytical skills signals the need for a new kind of professional with a different mindset. Hence, it will be multidisciplinary and flexible humanistic engineers who will take the reins of this new transformation.

    According to the MAIRE Foundation, the use of technology is as important as the development of new solutions, and a broader technical response to climate change is needed, focusing both on how people use technology, products, and infrastructure and on the design of next-generation low-carbon technologies, products, and services.​

    Closing the proceedings, Fabrizio Di Amato, Chairman of the MAIRE Group and the MAIRE Foundation, commented on the contents of the study with these words: “To address the energy transition and the shift to Net Zero, we must embrace the concept of the ‘humanist engineer’ as a new agent of transformation. These people will know how to navigate complexity and find solutions that include technological innovation, attention to economic, environmental and social needs, and cultural aspects. Our Group is personally committed to the training and involvement of new generations who will be the effective drivers of change. We are also paying specific attention to the potential that innovation in the area of the energy transition has for the inclusion of female talent. All of these are priorities for our strategic plan with the goal of generating a positive impact both through our technologies and through the work of our foundation. The skills we are able to build today will make a real difference in achieving the goals we have set for 2050.”