- Buildings Guide
- Policy Guide
- Appliances Guide
A lack of qualified sales persons with sufficient knowledge and skills to advise their customers on energy-efficient appliances and energy saving techniques for using them is regarded to be one of the major barriers to increasing the energy efficiency of appliances. Particularly, smaller manufacturers in developing countries may also lack knowledge on how to design and market energy-efficient appliances.
Education and training programmes are essential for overcoming this barrier. These programmes aim to provide workforce knowledge on designing, constructing, marketing, selling, operating, monitoring, and assessing energy-efficient appliances.
The aim is, on the one hand, to establish knowledge on the status quo of energy-efficient appliances and to establish a base of trained retailers, manufacturers and workers. On the other hand, the long-term aim is to reach the consumers and to inform them with reliable and comprehensive information about energy-efficient solutions. The sales staff should be adequately trained when confronted with consumer questions.
Many countries have already started to adapt their education and training systems to the current demand for energy-efficient appliances and to respond to the lack of workforce. Activities include the development of new curricula and adaptation of existing ones in lifelong training programmes or short-time training programmes outside workplace etc. (UNEP 2007; IEA 2010).
Governments play a key role by either providing development of knowledge and skill on appliance energy efficiency issues through formal education and training systems, or by setting up new institutions, such as authorities, commissions or working groups, or providing funds.
Since the public system may be slow in responding to the market demand, the involvement of social partners, such as industry associations and workers’ organizations, or public-and-private initiatives that provide more flexible and short-term specialized training, is essential (ILO 2011).
Education and training programmes for supply chain actors should include elements that incentivise participation. For example, in order to make consumers aware that a particular retailer participated in a capacity building measure, a logo can function as a visible sign for consumers.
With the help of a logo, programme participants can set themselves apart from other retailers.
For example, the programme “Energy Saving Trust” (EST) in the United Kingdom has found that 63% of consumers are more willing to believe in advice “if it is endorsed by an independent expert body” (EST 2012).
Education and training increase the effectiveness of other policy instruments (Levine et al. 2012). Training contents should be linked to the requirements and energy performance specifications of other policies, particularly MEPS, and financial incentive programmes.
Evidence shows that training can have a very high leverage effect and can thus be very cost-effective due to the creation of new business opportunities (EC 2011).
Sales staff are the interface between manufacturer, product, and consumer. Thus, they are found in a strategic position where purchases of less efficient devices can be redirected towards efficient appliances. This policy multiplies efforts by training, not only a particular target group, like sales staff in retail companies, but also a manufacturers’ workforce. It aims to provide the workforce with knowledge about designing, marketing, selling, operating, monitoring and assessing energy-efficient appliances.
It contributes to phasing out less energy-efficient appliances, reducing rebound effects, as well as avoiding lost opportunities.
Worldwide implementation status
Measures for education and training are implemented all over the world.
Education and training programmes can be implemented at international, national and local level.
In order to avoid losing opportunities, an education and training programme for retail staff should include as many appliance groups as possible and focus on those with the highest potential energy savings.
Education and training programmes can increase the effectiveness of other policy instruments (Levine et al 2012). These programmes should be linked to the requirements and energy performance specifications of other policies, particularly MEPS and financial incentives.
Another policy instrument, which should be combined with education and training programmes, is a label which should be used as an informative tool to which sales staff can refer. The label is a substantial help to the programme if they provide reliable and comparable information.
However, consumers should receive additional information fitting to their needs.
A logo for programme participants and an award for best-practice examples can increase the uptake rate because both distinguish companies from ordinary appliance retailers. For example in Japan, retailers can apply for the “e-Shop”-logo, which is for “appliance retailers who are active in selling and promoting energy-efficient products” (ECCJ NA, p.62; see also the bigEE good practice package file on Japan’s appliance energy efficiency policies and the bigEE good practice file on Japan’s Top Runner programme.).
The following pre-conditions are necessary to implement Education and Training for Supply Chain Actors:
Agencies or other actors responsible for implementation
It is likely that a government’s energy agency will be the key actor in the process of setting up an education and training programme. In co-operation with relevant stakeholders, it is necessary to find a common position with regard to the costs or incentives especially for retail companies, the training facilitators and the monitoring system.
At the strategic level, a working group with members from public administration, industry associations and workers’ organisations, and education institutions, can be established to assess the skill and training needs for appliance energy efficiency (EC 2011).
At the operational level, a sufficient number of qualified training and education providers prioritising building energy efficiency should be available.
Education and training programmes consist of two ability levels, for experts and for sales staff. So costs need to be differentiated between those two levels.
In order to guarantee that experts have an in-depth knowledge of energy-using appliances, the government should implement a nationally uniform examination system for those experts. Although this makes it easier for retail companies to identify reliable information providers, it will require government funding in order to develop and maintain adequate knowledge building measures (seminars, training sessions etc.) and testing/ certification schemes. In part, experts that take part in respective measures can also cover costs.
With regard to the second capacity building level, which affects retail companies directly, two cost factors are to be taken into account: a) experts that will train the sales staff and b) salaries for sales staff participating in education and training sessions.
Financial incentives by the government might increase the uptake rate of the policy.
No specific test procedures are required for the education and training, but the existing test procedures and energy consumption and efficiency of equipment, are important subjects for the education and training.
An ex-ante study of the national or regional status-quo of skill needs and training gaps within the sales staff and workforce, and costs of training needs, is essential before the policy design. Bringing together relevant stakeholders (e.g. retailers, manufacturers and government officials) is another important task before the policy can be implemented.
Then a set of actions should be developed listing elements on how the needs of sales staff and other actors can be addressed. The concept of an education programme needs to be developed. Furthermore there should be a clear view of how the programme is to be funded, who the programme operator will be, of the training facilities, the training content and curriculum material. The link to other policies should also be clarified.
It is probably very important for retail companies to know the potential distribution of expenses. If the government does not provide financial support for education and training programmes, retailers must cover the full costs for the appliance expert and further cost which may arise, as well as the salary for the staff. Costs may be distributed between the government, manufacturers of efficient appliances and retailers.
The first stage of the education and training measures consists of increasing the capacity to train (‘train the trainers’). These experts can then carry out seminars, workshops or other training sessions so that the participants are adequately trained.
If a national uniform certification system for appliance experts training retail companies’ sales staff is to be implemented, it is necessary to develop a criteria catalogue of what areas of expertise such service providers must be proficient in..
Ex-ante impact and cost assessment are necessary in order to measure the potential success of the programme.
Education and training can have a quantified target: The number of education and training sessions including the number of participants might function as a quantified target.
However, it may not be feasible to set an energy saving target for education and training alone.
Retail companies operating on a transnational level might be interested in promoting successful programmes abroad. This may foster cross-border co-operation and dialogue with regard to education and training measures.
There are significant differences in the training capacity on energy-efficient appliances between different countries. International technical assistance can have a high leverage effect.
Monitoring of the programmes is an important step. To guarantee that sales staff act according to the set of criteria established between governmental and non-governmental actors, the education and training programmes can be monitored by conducing spot checks. Indicators can include the number of training sessions and participants, the number of participants passing tests required for certification of qualified actors, and the costs and income from fees.
If a logo is introduced showing that a company participated in an education and training programme, failing in spot checks may result in withdrawal of the logo.
However, it is difficult to evaluate energy savings solely based on the effectiveness of education and training programmes alone. Currently, no robust assessment of the impact of qualifying the workforce to give information and advice on the energy savings, has yet been conducted (EC 2011).
Apart from the costs, which the government has to meet, the average value (or, if it exists, the standard value) for an education and training session paid for by the retail company may be taken to calculate the costs.
Design for sustainability aspects
Education and training programmes are not restricted to minimising the energy consumption of appliances. Programmes may also include aspects such as water and other resource efficiency and health aspects. Note that the more comprehensive the policy becomes the higher the expenses for increased capacity measures, because education and training staff need additional seminars/ training courses, as well. The training for sales staff probably will become longer.
Various co-benefits, e.g. employee productivity, reduced maintenance costs, etc. may arise from education and training programmes.
The following barriers are possible during the implementation of the policy
Retail companies may decide not to participate in the programme because the costs for having their staff trained are too high.
Another barrier may be a lack of qualified trainers in general.
The number of experts responsible for training retail staff might prove insufficient, so that supply does not meet respective demand.
The following measures can be undertaken to overcome the barriers
In order to figure out whether it is too expensive for retail companies, it is necessary to involve relevant stakeholders in the pre-implementation phase. It might be necessary that the government supports the policy in the initial phase.
E-learning programmes can be a good means for providing continuing training if the designing of the programmes take account of its limitations (ILO 2011).
Currently, no robust assessments of the impact of qualifying the workforce to give information or advice on the energy savings, have been conducted. The European Commission (2011) gives a conservative estimate for the building sector and mention that 10% of the energy saving potential in the EU building sector is dependant on the building workforce being fully skilled. Lack of skills also endangers compliance with policy requirements. The loss of energy savings due to an unskilled workforce would amount to 78Mt of CO2.
For the appliance sector these figures cannot be transferred due to the differences in the two different sectors but it gives a first impression of how relevant education and training programmes are.
The costs of education and training varies significantly, depending on the programme content, time scale, number of workforce to be trained, form of training, etc.
In general, however, the costs are much lower than those of financial incentive programmes.
While costs for the overall implementation are unknown, in the UK programme “Endorsed Advice Service”, which is not only designed for retail companies, but for companies in general, wishing to provide energy-information to their costumers, costs start at 12,000 EUR per organisation.
Successful training provided for actors in the supply chain can create new business opportunities and have a very high leverage effect.
Furthermore, as education and training improves compliance with many other policies, it will increase the energy savings from those policies and thus improve the overall cost-effectiveness of the policy package
Try the following external libraries:
|Energy Efficiency Policy Database of the IEA|
|Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures Database of the World Energy Council|
|CLASP’s Global S&L Database|