Deal Dive: Training the workforce for the clean energy transition

Innovation in clean tech and renewable energy is moving fast — maybe a bit too fast.

While there is no shortage of clean tech solutions available in today’s market (and in the works for the future), we now have a new problem: A shortage of folks who can install and maintain the tech.

The clean tech industry is expected to create 8 million jobs by the end of 2030, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency. These numbers are apparently based on current policies, and if more resources go toward the clean energy transition, the report’s authors expect the number to rise, too. But the creation of more jobs doesn’t mean there will be enough trained folks to fill them.

Berlin-based Montamo wants to solve this problem. The startup hires and trains folks to install and maintain sustainable heat pumps. It trains people new to the trades, provides upskilling training to those who have some experience, and has its workers install and maintain equipment for other companies. The company hopes to expand into other areas, like solar power, as it grows.

Montamo wants to have a positive social impact as well, co-founder Alexander Boehm told TechCrunch+. Boehm said the company wants to be intentional about hiring and training migrant workers, as it can be hard for migrants to get a good job in Germany regardless of their skills or background. That’s something Boehm witnessed firsthand when he was working as a director of operations for quick-grocery delivery startup Gorillas, and he doesn’t want their skills to go to waste.

“There is a lot of talent that’s coming to Germany; [they] have a migration background, they are super willing to work,” Boehm said, recalling his time hiring migrant workers at Gorillas. “They have drive and passion. They might have done a ton of work in the trades in their home countries, and we are leveraging these people for delivering our groceries in 10 minutes. I [thought] we could leverage them in a whole new way.”

The company was only founded this November and has already raised a €2.1 million pre-seed round, led by Project A Ventures, with participation from several angel investors. The startup is also building a tech stack that will help train its workers so they can franchise or strike out on their own in the future, co-founder Ole Schaumberg said.

I find Montamo’s approach really interesting for a few reasons. For one, its focus on migrant workers is a great way to do some good while working to solve the clean tech labor shortage. Giving folks an opportunity to learn a skill that is in demand is a great way to help put people on a career path with more potential upside.

Plus, these industries need a lot of trained workers. The lack of people trained in this sector is a global pain point — here in the U.S., we’ve seen numerous state and federal initiatives try to solve this gap. Last year’s federal infrastructure bill earmarked $72 million for business and trade schools to help upskill workers for clean tech jobs. And back in 2019, New York set aside more than $170 million to upskill workers in the state for these jobs.

“If no one is tackling the shortage of labor and skilled labor in climate trades, we definitely won’t reach any of our goals,” Boehm said. “We believe that there is a big market and money to be made, but even better, we can make a positive impact on our world and our planet. That’s very important.”

We know of at least one other startup trying to solve the clean tech labor shortage. ChargerHelp! is a Los Angeles–based startup that trains and employs folks to install and maintain electric vehicle chargers. As the clean tech industry continues to grow, hopefully we’ll see more.

Montamo’s a bit similar to the startup we talked about last week, Nth Cycle. The latter is working to make it easier and more efficient to refine and recycle rare metals and is helping build the infrastructure the clean tech industry needs to maximize its impact. Montamo is no different.

The clean energy transition can’t happen without a trained workforce, and Montamo can help build one.