Horizontal aspects

Social Sciences and Humanities - Education Training and skills

Social Sciences and Humanities

Social sciences and humanities research will help us better understand issues which will arise while Europe transitions to a low-carbon energy system.

Specific focus will be on these social sciences and humanities issues:

  • socioeconomic
  • gender
  • socio-cultural
  • socio-political

To complete the transition to a low-carbon energy system a better understanding of the energy choices and behaviour of citizens is needed, including the governance, institutional, and other frameworks conditioning these choices.

Accepting the change to come

This understanding is crucial to society's acceptance of the many ongoing changes in the energy sector. As well, research can help us better understand why citizens may resist these changes.

Knowing what problems may arise, we can plan mitigating strategies or alternatives.

Social sciences and humanities are fully integrated into each of the priorities of the current funding programme Horizon 2020, including the societal challenge – Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy. This means that these disciplines contribute to the evidence base for policy making that results from the EU's funding for research and innovation.

Social Sciences and Humanities platform

The Commission is setting up a Social Sciences and Humanities platform in the energy field. This is because energy-related social sciences and humanities research communities are still quite fragmented and interdisciplinary work needs more support.

This will ensure better interaction between different social sciences and humanities communities, as well as between these communities and other energy-research disciplines.


Education Training and skills

The energy sector is an evolving field which is creating new job opportunities. These jobs need new skills and competences.

The energy sector needs a steady flow of researchers, engineers and technicians who can meet the requirements of new technologies and evolving labour markets.

Needs for education, training and skills

This is a considerable challenge. In 2012 the main low-carbon energy field employed around 9 million people. To reach the targets laid out in EU's 2050 vision, the workforce in this field would need to double by 2030.

In addition, the workforce in the energy sector needs to be retrained.

Existing education and training programmes must be updated and new programmes developed with a focus on research, industrial knowledge and adequate interdisciplinary integration of knowledge.

Roadmap on education and training

A SET-Plan roadmap on education and training was published in 2014. It addresses the human resource challenge for the energy research and innovation sector and is an integral part of the SET-Plan agenda.

It contains recommendations on education and training activities and on assisting the development of the necessary cooperation frameworks among academia, research institutes and business.

European Platform of Universities in Energy Research & Education

The European Platform of Universities in Energy Research & Education (EUA-EPUE) was set up in 2009, under the SET-Plan umbrella. EUA-EPUE is involved in the activities of the UNI-SET project, which is supported by the EU.

Within this project, EUA-EPUE and KIC InnoEnergy are mapping energy higher education and research capacities and identifying emerging skills and job profiles.

Their aim is to:

  • develop clusters of activities among academia and industries
  • build collaborative higher education and research programmes along the SET-Plan priorities

Other Networks

Under the SET Plan two education networks were launched in 2015 thanks to the support of Horizon 2020 programme – BioEnergyTrain and INPATH-TES. One of the aims of the STEP-UP Smart Cities project is to develop two new master's programmes to tackle smart cities issues.