While computer science is attracting ever greater numbers due to "hip topics" such as artificial intelligence or big data, the numbers in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering are falling. In electrical engineering in particular, the gap between the successful training of students and the rising demand is assuming dramatic proportions. This is the conclusion of the VDE study Labor Market 2022.
The fact is that, analogous to the trend of software-driven engineering, the share of hardware is growing as an important integral component. Software does not work without high-end hardware. "We need a change of image in electrical engineering to encourage more students to study. At the same time, math skills need to be increased in high schools; the dropout rate is too high at over 50% in electrical engineering," Burkhard Holder of VDE Renewables quoted from the VDE study. The fact is that there is no software without hardware.
Cybersecurity: VDE, BSKI and GreenTEC Campus train career changers
With the energy transition, the degree of digitization is increasing. As the number of decentralized structures increases, so does the risk of disruption. Wind farms in particular offer hackers a target. "If we don't step up our game here and train specialists, I foresee serious problems from cyberattacks that could, for example, put entire wind farms out of operation and then lead to blackouts as a result," said Marten Jensen of GreenTEC Campus. To make sure that doesn't happen, his campus is currently working with VDE and BSKI to build IT training programs on cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection. Now all that's left is to find those interested in the training.
The three organizations see great potential among employees in the Rhenish lignite mining region. "Not everyone has to be a computer scientist. We train lateral entrants in our IT training programs for cyber security and critical infrastructure protection accordingly for their jobs," explain VDE, GreenTEC Campus and BSKI in unison. Together with the Quirinus Academy at the BSKI office in the lignite mining area, the corresponding programs are being set up on site. In 2021, about 18,000 people (including employees in general supply lignite-fired power plants) were employed in lignite mining in Germany (Statista 2022). Concrete further training is needed here to meet the challenges in the lignite mining area. Above all, municipalities are critical infrastructures, as they are responsible for providing services of general interest to the population, including hospitals, water and municipal utilities. A security network would have to be set up within the municipalities to develop a centralized defense strategy. And this requires personnel.
Investors and insurers demand standards and certification
In order to provide additional protection for regional and local energy supply and to give investors and insurers security, VDE, the companies in the energy industry and the German Federal Ministry of Economics are currently defining the technical cornerstones and the resulting standards of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). "We want to give investors, insurers and the industry confidence in their decision-making with implemented security processes and methods and a professionally conducted certification of the processes, e.g. according to ISO 27001," explained Burkhard Holder, VDE Renewables.