De Tijd: August 29, 2023 20:08
New Education Program: EV Charging Station Installer
Starting September 1st, all secondary schools in the Flemish Provincial Education system will launch the EV charging station installer training program. They are receiving assistance from several EV charging station producers. "Education is becoming the biggest challenge in the EV charging station sector."
With pride, the director and the practical instructor gaze at their brand-new toy: a black-and-white EV charging station placed prominently in the impressive practical classroom at the PISO school in Tienen. Soon, fifth and sixth-year students will step in here. For the first time, they will immerse themselves in the intricacies of an EV charging station.
This is a first in Flanders. For the first time, a training program for EV charging station installers is being organized in high schools, often as part of the electrical technician and industrial building automation curriculum. In 13 secondary schools of the Flemish Provincial Education system, around 500 students will engage with 60 state-of-the-art EV charging stations.
The shortage of manpower often leads to high waiting times. "Customers often have to wait for a long time," says Vercammen. "That's a bit absurd. An individual who has set their eyes on an electric car and wants a charging station should be able to get assistance within two weeks. The same goes for the public sector, which often needs to meet sustainability quotas."
By supporting the program, companies aim to have young and well-trained professionals enter the job market in a relatively short time. Today, installers learn the trade "on the job," but that's no longer feasible. "We urgently need installers who have mastered all the expertise related to charging stations through regular education and are immediately deployable."
Waiting lists for technical and vocational education
Jochen De Smet, chairman of the EV Belgium sector association, considers education to be the biggest challenge in the EV charging station sector. "Charging stations are a combination of hardware and software. This hasn't been integrated into the education until now. It was possible through adult education, but if we want significantly more workers, we need to address the core issue: secondary education."
The job prospects are at 100 percent, says De Smet. He refers to promising figures for the sector. The number of charging stations in Flanders has nearly tripled in a year. Today, there are more than 7,500 places where electric vehicles can quickly recharge their batteries. Both public and private charging stations are on the rise. From major energy giants like Engie and TotalEnergies to startups like Sparki and Electra, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
"Let's also look to the future," says De Smet. "By the end of this year, the 200,000th electric vehicle should be on Belgian roads. By 2027, we could have 1 million, and by 2030, 2 million. That's half of all vehicles in Belgium. When you consider that you need one charging station for every ten electric cars, the calculation is quickly made." But no matter how promising the figures for the sector are, it won't work without installers.
To align the program with the latest techniques, the provincial education system sent its practical instructors for training in three provinces in collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. They must pass on their expertise to the students.
Such training was not a luxury, say the practical instructors at PISO. An EV charging station is more complex than it appears. In addition to the physical installation, the station, as a high-consumer, must also be intelligent. It needs to communicate with other electrical points in the house, with the solar panels, with the heat pump, and possibly with the employer if they are paying the charging bill. "It's more than just screwing the station into the ground," says De Smet.
The Flemish Provincial Education system, a smaller player in the education landscape, hopes to take a leading role with this program. "This logical program should urgently find its way into other networks as well," says Griet Mathieu, director of the Flemish Provincial Education system.
And Wallonia must also jump on board, says the sector. Belgium is one of the EV charging station leaders, but three-quarters of them are in Flanders. "A cautious catch-up movement has begun in Wallonia," says Vercammen. "There's a massive market waiting there."