Government support perceived as key barrier in heat pump training, survey reveals 

A recent survey by Vaillant reveals that a lack of government support is considered the main obstacle to heat pump training, with more than 70% of respondents believing the government need to do more.

Survey by Vaillant reveals that government support is seen as a major barrier in heat pump training. What do you believe are the main obstacles?

Over 40% believed the government should cover the cost of heat pump training to achieve the 600,000 installations target. 

With the UK Government’s target of 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028, a significant increase in the number of heat pump installers is essential. However, only 1,500 MCS-accredited businesses currently exist in the UK. 

Vaillant surveyed to understand the factors influencing installers’ decisions to retrain in low carbon technologies, such as heat pumps. Collecting responses from over 1,300 installers registered with their Advance loyalty programme, the study aimed to identify the primary barriers and motivators for installer retraining. 

Uptake slower than anticipated 

Most recently, an inquiry into the Boiler Upgrade Scheme’s success revealed that retrofit heat pump technology uptake in UK homes is slower than anticipated.  

The survey results also highlighted that 82% of polled installers do not install heat pumps. However, a positive outlook emerged as most respondents acknowledged the need for training. When asked about their interest in undertaking air source heat pump training within the next 12 months, 87% of installers responded with ‘yes’ or ‘maybe.’ 

The top three motivators of these installers looking to undertake heat pump training were future-proofing their business or career development, personal financial benefits from installing a diverse range of heating technologies, and environmental benefits by supporting the net zero agenda. 

These motivators were largely similar for the 18% of installers already installing heat pumps. Their top three motivators were future-proofing their business, readying themselves for an expected increase in customer demand for heat pumps, and the environmental credentials installing heat pumps provides.  

Time away from the tools 

The design of a heat pump system is incredibly important, both in meeting end-user expectations and in ensuring effective operation. Vaillant estimates that heat pump training for an existing heating engineer can take up to 9.5 days – however, on average, the installers surveyed only needed a further 6.5 days of training, as they already had some skills required to fit a heat pump.  

Time away from the tools also didn’t appear to be an immediate barrier to undertaking heat pump training. Out of the 994 installers who expressed an interest in upskilling, almost two-thirds (64%) said they would still be interested in undertaking training after learning the required training time.  

Moreover, 55% of installers felt that they would prefer ‘entirely in-person training’ when it came to air-source heat pumps, whilst ‘a combination of in-person and online’ was preferred by 40% of those surveyed.  

Low demand from customers

Vaillant’s research was conducted before the announcement of a £5 million Heat Training Grant fund by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, in which installers can apply for up to £500 towards heat pump training. Further details are expected in Spring. 

Mark Wilkins, technologies and training director for Vaillant, said: “Whilst it’s encouraging to see that most installers are keen to upskill with additional heat pump training, some are also wary about the demand from consumers being low – and we’ve seen this through the recent BUS inquiry. In our response to this inquiry, we have urged the Government to set a clear strategy for consumer education and awareness to help drive demand for heat pumps and, therefore, the training required for installers.  

“The Heat Training Grant is a significant step towards making heat pump training more accessible for the installer community, wherever they are in their career. I’m delighted that Vaillant is also supporting this scheme.

“We are working diligently with our training partners and internal teams to enhance our current heat pump training offer to ensure it simplifies the process for installers, providing them with cost-effective and accessible training to gain the relevant qualifications to take a heat pump installation through from the design stage all the way to commissioning.”