Women account for just 2% of the heating industry workforce 

A new report by Energy Systems Catapult has revealed that just 2% of the workforce in the heating business is made up of women, and only 5% of those who work in the sector are from an ethnic minority.

A new report by Energy Systems Catapult reveals that women make up just 2% of the workforce in the heating industry and just 5% are of ethnic minority.

The paper’s results reveal that diversity could be an opportunity for the heating industry as it aims to overcome the skills shortage and meet net-zero targets. The sector could address skills shortages by increasing recruitment and hiring employees with diverse backgrounds. 

The research highlights that the key needs for women and ethnic minorities entering or staying in the heating sector are: 

  • Increased availability and awareness of fair job opportunities. 
  • It is possible to train and work in a flexible environment. 
  • A healthy and inclusive environment gives them a sense of belonging. 

“The latest data indicates that the median age of heating engineers today is 55, meaning many professionals will – over the coming decade – leave the workforce. This, coupled with the large skills gap, means that the heating sector is on a cliff edge.  

Heating sector is on a cliff edge 

“We must tap into a broader talent pool and bring more women and ethnic minorities into the fold,” said Dr Vivien Kizilcec, consumer research manager at Energy Systems Catapult and co-author of the report. 

This lack of diversity can be attributed to women and men lacking adequate training. The report states that women and ethnic minorities continue to be limited by financial barriers and a lack of flexible work schedules. Often, training is expensive, and there is little available funding for this. 

Many individuals experiencing barriers to furthering their careers cannot access training due to inflexible scheduling, making it difficult to gain access to training. 

Tackling discrimination 

There are currently 120,000 gas boiler installers, but to meet net zero targets, the number of heat pump installers will likely need to rise from 2000 to around 50,000-100,000. More skilled labour is already needed, as the industry is starting to experience rising consumer demand for low-carbon heating installations as gas prices soar. 

A new report by Energy Systems Catapult reveals some eye-opening facts

To solve these problems, it suggested several ways to address the diversity issue. This includes calling on employers, industry bodies, training providers, and political bodies to increase the availability and awareness of fair job opportunities. They should tailor training to individual needs, prior experiences, and ambitions and tackle discrimination to achieve a healthy and inclusive environment. 

Women and ethnic minorities represent an untapped talent pool

The report was produced in partnership with Livework, and conducted both desk research and structured interviews with participants across the heating industry. A mix of participants was sought, with men, women, and ethnic minorities interviewed for the report. 

A tradesperson and industry expert commented: “When in school it’s clear you’re not an academic, boys get sent into trades and girls get sent into beauty.” 

Dr Vivien Kizilcec continued: “The report points to clear actions we can take to overcome the many barriers to entry that individuals face when exploring a career in the heating sector. From making recruitment content more inclusive and accessible to providing inclusive work environments and physical spaces, there are a number of tangible actions, not tokenistic interventions that we can make”. 

Read the full report here: Increasing diversity in the heating sector to address the skills shortage and meet net zero.