UK first-ever heat pump apprenticeship

The UK’s first dedicated low-carbon heating apprenticeship is poised to launch with the backing of government funding. 

The UK is paving the way for a sustainable future with its first-ever low carbon heating technician apprenticeship, supported by government funding.

The low-carbon heating technician apprenticeship aims to equip a new generation of workers to support the government’s ambitious goal of installing 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028. This initiative aligns with the nation’s shift from fossil fuel heating systems to renewable alternatives. 

Meeting the demand for skilled heat pump installers

To meet government targets for installing renewable energy-powered heating systems, the UK will require 57,000 qualified heat pump installers by the decade’s end. A dedicated pipeline of future talent is crucial to make the electrification of the country’s heat supply feasible. 

Currently, there is no specialised training provision for heat pump engineers. The low-carbon heating technician apprenticeship is a UK-first and tailored to develop the skills needed to design, install, and commission low-carbon heating technologies. 

This groundbreaking apprenticeship was developed through collaboration between the standards body for renewables, MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), and a trailblazer group of heat pump installers. 

Pioneering collaboration and recognition

Earlier this year, the apprenticeship earned recognition from industry experts at IfATE in honour of King Charles III’s Coronation. It was selected as a key contributor to encouraging more individuals to pursue careers in green industries, becoming one of six green apprenticeships to carry the coronation emblem. 

The Department for Education has now allocated a funding band for this apprenticeship, granting colleges up to £22,000 for each apprentice. Experts in the industry believe this generous funding will ensure that colleges have the necessary resources to support apprentices from diverse backgrounds seeking careers in the renewables sector. Notably, the funding band exceeds that of equivalent apprenticeships for fossil fuel heating systems. 

MCS CEO Ian Rippin said of the apprenticeship: “We are pleased that the UK’s first ever heat pump apprenticeship received government approval.  

“Until now, the country’s efforts to increase our number of low-carbon heating installers have been delivered through short bolt-on courses after completion of a traditional fossil fuel heating installation course. 

“It is critical that we have dedicated pathways to develop an army of renewable heating installers with certifiable skills who know how to design and fit these systems efficiently. Most importantly, this workforce will know how to support homeowners in heating and decarbonising their homes.” 

Chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, Jennifer Coupland, said: “Low carbon heating is at the cutting edge of green tech, and it has been inspiring to work closely with expert employers to create this new opportunity for environmentally minded apprentices.” 

Gold standard for green skills

“This apprenticeship is one of the six IfATE marked with the Coronation emblem earlier this year because it represents the gold standard for green skills and will ensure employers can access the skilled workforce needed to support the UK in its critical transition to Net Zero. 

“We look forward to seeing it being implemented and urge many employers to offer placements as we all have a role to play in tackling climate change and creating green careers that will stand the test of time.” 

Andy Louth, MD of heat pump installer Groundtherm and chair of the employer trailblazer group said: “It is vitally important that today’s learners are equipped with skills that are fit-for-the-future to help them develop futureproof career paths. 

Removing the need for employers to retrain

“As an employer, it is reassuring to know that the people I hire will have the necessary skills and access to the right training is the most important part of that. Removing the need for employers to retrain plumbers in low-carbon technology is a huge step in the right direction. 

“The employer trailblazer group provided input into the creation and design of the apprenticeship to ensure learning reflects the real world of work as a renewable heating technician.” 

Stephen McGreevy, head of school, sustainable construction and building services, at the City of Liverpool College, said: “It is fantastic to see the delivery of the Low Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship. This course will be vital in providing learners with hands-on technical skill development for a future-proof career in the green sector while also allowing them to earn a living while learning. 

“We are particularly pleased to see the apprenticeship receive the funding band it deserves from the Government. It will allow colleges like us to take on learners at a time when every penny matters.”