The study

Human capacity in Local governments:

the bottleneck of the building stock transition

Local governments are at the forefront of managing crises. It has been true with the COVID crisis, it is still true with the war in Ukraine and the massive immigration which has resulted. The climate emergency is a crisis and should be treated as such. To be able to do so, local governments rely on their staff, which implies having a large enough local workforce to carry out the necessary tasks.

However, municipalities are having trouble recruiting the staff they need because of several hurdles: limited operating budgets, strict rules on local government debts, a need to increase the attractiveness of employment, etc.

The European Union and national governments need strong local energy-related public services to drive the climate transition. Decarbonising cities requires the involvement of many different stakeholders and touches upon various sectors. This is especially true for the built environment, which is a hyper-local matter. In the Netherlands, a study was conducted to estimate the number of additional staff that will be needed between 2022 and 2030. The results were clear: staffing needs will be more than double the current capacity, even tripling for small cities. The positions to be filled are diverse: energy analysts, project managers, urban developers, engineers, experts in citizen and stakeholder engagement, energy advisers, communication officers, public building experts, social housing experts…

How does it look like at the European level? Around 2.5 additional full-time positions per municipality per year over the next 9 years (including 2022), or 214,000 new local employment positions across the European Union. In terms of costs for municipalities, this will be around €16 billion per year at the EU level, which, in 2019, represented only 3% of local governments’ public expenditures.

Around 2.5 additional full-time positions per municipality per year over the next 9 years


AT Austria | BE Belgium | BG Bulgaria | CY Cyprus | CZ Czechia | DE Germany | DK Denmark | EE | Estonia | EL Greece | ES Spain | FI Finland | FR | rance | ES Spain | HR Croatia | HU Hungary | IE | Ireland | IT Italy | LT Lithuania | LU Luxembourg | LV Latvia | MT Malta | NL Netherlands | PL | Poland | PT Portugal | RO Romania | SE Sweden | SI Slovenia | SK Slovakia

However, local governments will have to face a 53% increase in employee expenditures in their building and climate departments, which represents a massive shift in investment priority. However, investing in staff locally can result in more investment and thus accelerate decarbonisation. Experiences in France and Spain are encouraging and show the way, benefitting not only citizens, but also municipalities.

It is therefore necessary to recruit and train local staff to have strong local energy public services, to achieve the climate transition in buildings, and to increase local investments and jobs. So, what are the keys to move forward in recruiting more local staff?


  1. Provide funding and encourage local cooperation by reallocating budgets to finance local job positions, encouraging the local or regional coordination to pool local workforces, sharing extensively of local best practices related to the issue.
  2. Develop a human resources strategy for local workforces by assessing the staffing needs of each subnational government, developing plans to attract and facilitate the recruitment by local or regional administrations and their public bodies, providing training to climate and energy staff members, adapting education and training programs to meet the demands of the labour market.
  3. Enable local and regional governments to develop their own green budgets and workforce by rethinking budget organisation within cities to boost energy and climate expenditures; removing regulatory barriers to facilitate energy and climate investments, in particular human resources; empowering cities via local environmental taxes.