France must tackle labour shortages to deliver hydrogen potential - report

FILE PHOTO: The opening ceremony of the Hynamics hydrogen station in Auxerre

By Forrest Crellin

PARIS (Reuters) - France's hydrogen sector will need tens of thousands of general and specialist workers this decade and specific training will be vital to fill experience gaps, industry body France Hydrogene said in a report on Thursday.

More than 100,000 jobs are projected to be available in the field by 2030, the organisation said, but the sharp increase in job offers combined with general labour shortages in industry is creating tensions as companies look for workers.

Training could help fill the gaps, and while courses are currently on offer, a majority of hydrogen development companies polled for the report consider them insufficient.

"A major issue is the flexibility of the training from the beginning and the capacity to evolve and adapt the training and certification with the production of the project," Ludovic Bertrand, director of the Carif-Oref employment network, said at a France Hydrogene event to display the results.

"We will have to work together to respond to these challenges," he added.

The report said one way to overcome shortages was to develop positions based on regions and allow for "job passes" to ensure skills and employees can be transferred between businesses.

These passes could encourage the retraining of nuclear and petrochemical engineers so they can fill openings in cleaner energy sectors, the report said.

Currently, since most projects are still in the design phase, "head of project" tops job offers in the hydrogen sector, representing about 17% of the total. Commercial or account managers is in second at 9% of job offers.

There were 6,800 positions in the French hydrogen field in 2022, up 77% from 2019.

(Reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by Mark Potter)