The EU has set itself a 20% energy savings target by 2020. Buildings have a central role in the achievement of this target as they are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. While new buildings generally need less than 5 litres of heating oil per square metre per year, older buildings consume about 25 litres on average. Currently, about 35% of the EU's buildings are over 50 years old. By improving the energy efficiency of buildings, we could reduce total EU energy consumption by 6% and lower CO2 emissions by about 5%. Recent studies also demonstrate that 90% of buildings existing in the EU todays is destined to remain and the renovation is, sooner or later, inevitable.

This means that the redevelopment of buildings has a great potential to stimulate the economy and professionals able to offer an innovative contribution to this large scale strategy are strongly needed. The labour market will present a growing demand for qualified professionals who are capable of performing energy audits and who can design competitive and innovative strategies for energy retrofitting on existing buildings - it is estimated that this process could create 2 million jobs.

This represents a real potential for architects, meeting the shared concern for the lack of job opportunities at European level.

A 2014 ACE (Architects’ Council of Europe) study shows some encouraging trends and positive perspectives: unemployment has fallen, practice revenues have risen slightly, more architects are working full-time, and workloads for the next year are expected to increase. However, these positive developments must not hide the fact that the situation differs greatly from one country to another. The market remains at a standstill in several countries and underemployment and unemployment remain a major concern. From the three countries represented in the study, the findings show how the architecture market has decreased against an overall value of 14 billion € in Europe, meanwhile the UK has the highest architectural market value (1.9m € with 57.000 €/architect), followed by Italy (1.9m € but with 12.000 €/architect) and the Czech Republic (139.000 € and 17.000 €/architect).

This data underlines architects' need to widen and differentiate their competences in a market saturated by too many architects encountering difficulties in accessing the profession and being competitive.

NET_Learning, thus, aims to create a workforce of qualified professionals, whose skills are recognized and who are able to operate and contribute at European level to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, by providing training programmes and tools, able to fill the gap in required competences to work on the energy auditing of existing buildings.