Estonian energy sector has undergone significant changes over the last decade. Despite changes the structure of energy production has remained almost the same. Still about 80% of the energy is produced from oil shale. It is expected in the development plan of energy industry that the importance of energy produced from oil shale would decrease and the importance of renewable energy would increase by the year 2020. This may lead to major changes in the structure of energy production and labour demand. The aim of the study was to conduct labour force survey in the enterprises of Estonian energy sector in order to verify the occurrence of the before mentioned trends.

„If the number of engineering graduates or their recruitment in energy sector will not change then the shortage of specialists with higher education can be expected over the next ten years.“ – Katrin Pihor

About 20,200 employees were engaged in mining, electrical equipment manufacturing, electricity, heat and oil production, electricity contribution, sale, network construction and installation in the years 2009 and 2010 which represents approximately 3.5% of all the employment in Estonia.


  • If you look at the employment structure by the level of education then there is an offset compared to the average of the Estonian manufacturing industry. 31% of employees have higher, 65% have secondary and 4% have basic education.
  • There are major differences between the sub-activities in energy sector. There are less people with higher education in the oil shale production than the average but in the wind power industry, electricity distribution and sale the number of people with higher education is much higher.
  • The key specialties of the branch are engineering, manufacturing and construction specialties – 53% of the employees with secondary and 62% of the employees with higher education have special education.
  • 63% of the energy sector’s employees have the suitable work for their profession and educational level.

Exploring future scenarios showed that:

  • If there are no significant changes in the Estonian energy sector and current development continues then the number of jobs in the entire sector would increase by 600 to 1000 over ten years.
  • A negative scenario assumes negative growth in demand, behind which is a decrease of employment in almost all business areas, so that in total 1,200 jobs would disappear.

In order to solve the problem of qualified labour:

  • The energy sector specialisations should be popularised.
  • Schools should cooperate with companies while popularising their specialties in order to introduce their specialties and energy sector as an area with very secure future.
  • Companies should train their employees themselves or look for them straight from schools in accordance with the specialties.
  • Already existing staff should be continuously offered additional training as the technology renews.