Need for Labour Force in the Estonian Energy Sector and the Possibilities for Covering It in 2011–2020 *
The article focuses on the labour demand in the Estonian energy sector in a 10-year perspective.
The energy sector is a key to every country’s economic development, but so far the demand for labour in this sector has not been studied explicitly; in fact, earlier the sector had not even been defined. The combining of both quantitative and qualitative methods in the analysis upgrades the value of results and enables to make suggestions regarding the coop-eration of educational establishments and the enterprises of the sector, while also providing an elaborate methodology for conducting similar studies in other sectors when the sector comprises more than one single industry.
The quantitative part of the analysis uses microdata collected directly from enterprises, and covers altogether 55% of the labour force in the sector. It consists of three steps: charting the current structure of the labour force, forecasting growth demand (with a scenario-based approach), and forecasting replacement demand. The qualitative analysis is based on interviews with managers and personnel managers from the sector and focuses on the quality of the labour force.
The supplementary labour demand in the next 10 years varies from 4900 to 7400 employees, depending on the scenario. Most likely, the actual need for additional workforce will be between 6600 and 7000 employees. The scarcity of specialists with higher education and the excess of graduates of vocational schools can be expected in the fields of mining and beneficiation, mechanics and metal work, and electronics and automatics. As in the next 15 years the share of people reaching the age of retirement will be above average in the energy sector, more than 70% of the supplementary labour demand accrues from the need to replace current employees.
Therefore, it is important to increase the attractiveness of the curricula related to energetics and reduce the numbers of dropouts. Graduates of vocational schools should also be encouraged to continue their studies and get higher education. Continuous cooperation is required between educational establishments and the companies in the sector in order to increase the quality of traineeships, which are crucial for acquiring the necessary skills for working in the sector. Another opportunity would be introducing Industrial Master’s programmes which would enable to associate work and studies. The existing curricula should incorporate more components related to entrepreneurship, marketing, management, planning and automation of production, IT, and quality management, all of which would need to consider the specifics of the sector.
It is crucial to develop curricula in cooperation with entrepreneurs, which could be done with the assistance of industry associations. The managers and top specialists of different fields should be involved in teaching, as their experience would help create a link between theo-retical knowledge and its application in practice. At the same time, practice should be more valued in the career models of the teaching staff. Teachers and lecturers should regularly attend training days or internships in enterprises to keep their knowledge of new technologies and practices up-do-date.
*Peer-reviewed research paper.