France and EIT InnoEnergy, an independent body set up by the EU, have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the so-called EBA250 Academy to retrain and upskill tens of thousands of workers for the French battery industry.
Specifically, the partnership aims to put around 150,000 people through the academy by 2025. The background to this is that France is planning to open three gigafactories by 2023 and is therefore experiencing a growing need for specialised engineers and technicians. To fill this gap, a platform for sharing educational opportunities is to be created under the direction of EIT InnoEnergy, which coordinates industrial work within the European Battery Alliance (EBA). This should “drastically reduce” the cost of retraining and upskilling.
In addition to France, EIT InnoEnergy is already introducing the EBA250 Academy in Spain and plans to roll out the programme across Europe in the course of 2021. The initiators assume that around 800,000 qualified workers will be needed in the battery industry in Europe by 2025. According to the partners, the academy’s courses have been developed by experts working in the battery sector and cover topics ranging from electromobility, household storage and grid storage to recycling and data science. The modules are offered online by local training organisations, although some require physical attendance at local training facilities, they say. What’s more, any engineer or manager working in the energy sector could apply.
EIT InnoEnergy describes itself as an innovation community supported by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. The entity is organised as a public-private partnership and often acts as an investor in the climate and renewable energy sectors. According to its own information, it has invested in around 500 industrial companies since its foundation in 2010. EIT InnoEnergy is also involved in several European initiatives, including the aforementioned European Battery Alliance (EBA), the European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Centre (EGHAC) and the European Solar Initiative (ESI).
Diego Pavia, CEO of EIT InnoEnergy, stresses that the EBA250 Academy will ensure that “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 can succeed in taking care of people’s skills and creating the new, value-added jobs that the green transition requires, he said.
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for the European Battery Alliance, commented: “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.”
With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France.