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Green Skills and Training Special: Preparing for the Green Deal

8th September 2011
In the light of Government plans to improve energy efficiency in our homes and businesses, David Pierpoint Event Director at InstallerLive 2011, explains why upskilling the workforce of installers with 'training they can trust’ is essential for the future.
The Government’s Green Deal is nothing short of a revolution in the heating industry. When it’s introduced in Autumn 2012, it will establish a framework for private firms to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses at no upfront cost, and recoup payments through a charge in installments on their energy bill.

If the UK’s estimated 26 million households take up the Green Deal over the next 20 years, then employment in the heating and plumbing sector, currently at 27,000, could rise to something approaching 250,000, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The Green Deal complements other consumer incentive schemes in the renewable technology sector, such as Feed-in Tariffs, and the Renewable Heat Incentive. All will create new work for installers who hold the right qualifications and accreditations, and who are connected to the right providers and advisors.

Our own research indicates that around three quarters of installers currently see low carbon as a business opportunity and recognise that they need to know more about it in the next twelve months. But most installers polled in our survey were not sure which qualifications they needed, and where to go for help in learning new skills for fitting technologies, such as, solar PV and solar thermal heating, air source and ground source heat pumps, biomass units, micro-CHP (Combined Heat and Power) and wind turbines.

Yes, the Green Deal is a huge opportunity, but the green skills gap threatens its success. A sufficient number of competent, well-trained and qualified installers who can be trusted by specifiers, consumers and business end-users is essential if the shift to renewable heating technologies is going to work.

The good news is that industry training bodies are moving forward to bridge the knowledge gap in advance of the Green Deal. In partnership with the National Skills Academy For Environmental Technologies, we will be providing the training at this year’s InstallerLive event which will help installers make a successful transition towards low carbon technologies.

"It is important that installers are prepared for future changes – legislation to be implemented in 2012 will emphasise the requirements of individual competence in both MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), Competent Persons Schemes and the Green Deal," says Dr Cathryn Hickey, executive director of SummitSkills and interim director of the Skills Academy. "The Skills Academy network of 14 hubs (with over 80 providers) across England, only provides training and assessment that is mapped to industry standards to meet these future changes. Academy training enables installers to be ready and ahead of the game, without requiring any additional upskilling at a later date."

Both hard and soft training options will be available at the show in an extensive programme of more than 70 free sessions. Alongside content from the Skills Academy, other training providers and industry associations are taking part in the show. They include NAPIT (the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers), the Micropower Council who are responsible for MCS Certification, EAL, the Energy Savings Trust, the HVCA (Heating & Ventilating Contractors Association), the NICEIC, the Solar Trade Association, City and Guilds, the Underfloor Heating Manufacturers Association, the CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineers), the APHE (Association of Plumbing & Heating Engineers), HETAS, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and the Rainwater Harvesting Association.

Representative bodies from industries and training providers are pulling together to ensure installers can rise to the renewables challenge. Frankly, they need to. With the advent of the Green Deal and the huge demand for training that exists within our industry, InstallerLive will be a key platform for sharing knowledge and delivering on the requirements of the sector as never before. It will help to equip installers with qualifications, accreditation and information they need from providers they can trust.

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