“The building services industry needs to get behind climate change targets and train-up to deliver low-carbon heating solutions,” says Griff. “There is no doubt that the government needs to do more to implement and fund installer training programmes to back up its ambitious policies. However, there are already some great opportunities out there for trades people with a positive mindset and an eye on the future.
“In the past, consumers have had very little choice when it comes to their heating – it’s gas if you’re on the grid or oil if not. In the very near future, net carbon zero status for all properties will be achieved through a combination of heating technologies and insulating materials. Installers will need to be trained, qualified and accredited in a variety of low-carbon technologies to specify appropriate heating solutions.
“It’s great to see the EAC emphasising the importance of installers in the journey to decarbonisation. The government has promised 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028 but we have nowhere near enough installers to scale-up to this level – currently there are around 1,000 MCS certified heat pump installers, compared to 130,000 Gas Safe registered installers.
“We know that heat pumps will play a significant role as we head towards 2050. To achieve carbon reduction targets, we will need to retrofit 27 million homes and 2 million commercial and industrial buildings with increased energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heating technologies. Without a healthy supply of skilled tradespeople, we will not be able to deliver on these legally binding aims.
“The EAC report also acknowledged the impact of poorly administered schemes on installers, including the Green Homes Grant Scheme. Combined with the fear mongering headlines we are all exposed to every day about gas boiler bans, it’s no wonder some installers are concerned about the future. We need to turn this thinking on its head – it’s an exciting time to be part of an industry that will make a tangible contribution to a more sustainable future.
“Building services installers need to be thinking about their next move now. Don’t just dismiss upskilling as something that is too expensive and time consuming – for most experienced installers, heat pump training takes just a week. The decarbonisation of heat is happening and its better to embrace it than get left behind.
“We recently ran the Renewable Heat Installer Training & Support Scheme (RHITSS) which offered installers the opportunity to upskill to become a heat pump or solar thermal with up to 70% of the total costs covered, including training and MCS certification fees.
The scheme issued vouchers to 1,000 installers worth up to £1,300 each, but disappointingly nearly 500 of the vouchers have now expired unused, demonstrative of the general apathy towards upskilling into low carbon technologies. These vouchers will now be reissued, anyone that’s interested in taking one up should call 01969 666111.”