To content
Department of Social Sciences

SPIRE-SAIS: Skills Alliance for Industrial Symbiosis (SAIS) – A Cross-sectoral Blueprint for a Sustainable Process Industry (SPIRE)

01/01/2020 - 06/30/2024

SPIRE-SAIS is developing the blueprint “European Energy Intensive Industry Skills Agenda and Strategy” for an ongoing and short-termed implementation of new skills demands concerning cross-sectoral industrial symbiosis (IS) and energy efficiency in the eight sectors of the public-private-partnership SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency): steel, chemicals, cement, non-ferrous metals, water, minerals, engineering, and ceramics.

Flag of the EU


The main objective of the project is to create a blueprint of a European agenda and strategy for new competences in energy-intensive industry, which will help to address competence needs related to industrial symbiosis (IS) and energy efficiency on an ongoing and short-term basis. Economic, digital and business developments as well as increasing demands for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability confront European and global industry with many challenges, not least of which is the continuous updating of competence, knowledge and capability profiles of the workforce. Against the backdrop of multiple, cumulative and constantly changing economic challenges and digital developments, HR policy can only be successful by involving all relevant actors and stakeholders. As part of a (social) innovation process, a blueprint strategy for human capital development will be realized through a cross-sector Skills Alliance of energy-intensive industries (EII). This will involve a broad range of key stakeholders from the eight sectors of the SPIRE public-private partnership (steel, chemicals, minerals, non-ferrous metals, water, engineering, ceramics and cement). This project will provide a common approach to cross-sector skills needs and challenges, focusing in particular on the skills required for industrial symbiosis and energy efficiency. It will develop concrete and practical strategies and programs (modules and tools) in light of the needs. Through this strategy framework, two main objectives will be pursued:

  1. Proactively identify skills needs to design appropriate training and curricula, including new educational content and cross-industry pedagogies (so that skills and educational content are mutually recognized), both within companies and educational providers;
  2. Identifying, developing, and promoting successful industry-specific recruitment and training schemes, including initial (teaching) methodologies for i) effectively managing knowledge among highly skilled workers and ii) addressing recruitment difficulties (e.g., industry attractiveness) to expand the talent pool and establish diverse workforces;

The two previously stated goals are supported by:

  • The creation of a database of industrial occupations, specific roles in jobs, and skill needs that will support: i) recruitment; ii) job search; iii) educational opportunities at the local, member state, and EU industry levels; and; iv) facilitating or enabling skill needs assessments;
  • Measures to secure policy support from the Skills Alliance by mobilizing and engaging (sector) stakeholders and policy makers at EU and member state levels;
  • Development of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within the framework of an established Skills Alliance to continuously track success in terms of Objectives 1 and 2 and to proactively adapt SPIRE-SAIS as new challenges arise (e.g., in quality management).

Building on the existing SPIRE coordination, SPIRE projects and activities, a cross-industry industrial symbiosis approach covering all eight energy-intensive SPIRE industries and combining European, national and regional perspectives on industrial symbiosis will enhance "cross-cultural" exchange between different industry sectors and the different skill levels (blue collar and white collar, generational exchange and green skills as cross-cutting themes). For this purpose, the included industry associations are key communication and dissemination units that improve and exploit the project results and generate attention to cross-industry energy efficiency and industrial symbiosis.

Company, industry and sector representatives:

  • European Aluminium Association AISBL (EA)
  • Industrial Minerals Association Europe (IMA)
  • The European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP)
  • Ferriere Nord Spa
  • Sidenor Aceros Especiales SL
  • European Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WSSTP)
  • Instytut Metali Niezelaznych (IMN)
  • Covestro Germany AG
  • Suez Groupe
  • Carmeuse
  • European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG)

Training and education provider:

  • Rina Consulting - Centro Sviluppo Materiali Spa (RINA/CSM)
  • Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di perfezionamento SA (SSSA)
  • Instituto de Soldadura e Qualidade (ISQ)
  • Asociacion de Investigacion de Lasindustrias Ceramicas aice (ITC)
  • International Synergies LTD (ISL)
  • Institutul National de Cercetare-Dezvoltare Pentru Metale NEFE (IMNR)
  • H20-People B.V.
  • ART-ER

Research Institutions:

  • TU Dortmund
  • Fundacion Circe Centro de Investigacion de Recursos y Consumos (CIRCE)
  • Visionary Analytics UAB

Associated partners:

  • IndustriALL (European Industry Union)
  • EIT Raw Materials
  • ThyssenKruppSteel Europe
  • CEFIC The European Chemical Industry Council
  • CEMBUREAU The European Cement Association
  • Creamie-Unie The European Ceramic Industry Association
  • Carbon Market Watch
  • Instituto de Technología Química Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) - Consejo Duperior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

SPIRE-SAIS is developing a blueprint for an agenda to address new competence needs related to cross-sector industrial symbiosis (IS) and energy efficiency in energy-intensive industries on a continuous and short-term basis. The key objectives are:

  • Proactively identify competence needs both in companies and in education and training institutions.
  • Identify, develop and promote successful industry strategies for recruitment and skills development
  • Create a database of industrial occupations, specific roles in jobs and skills needs
  • Measures to secure political support
  • Development of key performance indicators (KPIs)

The project is designed as a social innovation process, which means that technological, organizational and social aspects and influences are included directly from the beginning in a parallel, interrelated way. Key components of SPIRE-SAIS are:

  • Building on existing SPIRE coordination, SPIRE projects and activities (on industrial symbiosis and energy efficiency).
  • Evolve the industry-based blueprint perspective into a cross-sectoral approach, paying attention to all eight energy-intensive SPIRE industries.
  • Engage industry associations as key communication and dissemination entities (including for feedback, quality assurance entities).
  • Take stock of the extensive experience and expertise of partners, as evidenced by the large number of projects on industrial symbiosis, energy efficiency, and other vocational training
  • Last but not least: enable cross-sectoral development and exchange between industry representatives, companies, policy makers, science and education.

This will be realized through the following eight work packages ("WPs"):

  • WP1: Management and quality assurance
  • WP2: Technological and economic development and outlook
  • WP3: (Company) requirements for skills and outlook
  • WP4: Systems of vocational education and training: Anticipating future requirements and regulations of national vocational education and training systems
  • WP5: Development of a European blueprint
  • WP6: Transfer and implementation - EU and member state level (industry associations, VET representatives, preparation of national implementation, cooperation with other industries developing blueprints)
  • WP7: Policy recommendations and dissemination (incl. cooperation with stakeholders from EU and member states and national funding institutions)
  • WP8: Monitoring and evaluation