#GreenSkills a serious barrier

The RAE (Royal Academy of Engineering) have today published their report:

Heat: Degrees of Comfort, Options for heating home in a low carbon economy. 

There is no possibility that the UK can meet its 2050 target for CO2 emissions without a fundamental change to the way our homes are heated, according to a report published today (12 January) by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Even with the most modern gas boilers and state-of-the art insulation, we cannot continue to heat so many homes by natural gas and still achieve an 80% cut in emissions as laid down in the Climate Change Act 2008.

Plumbers unprepared for move to energy-efficient homes, report warns (from the Guardian 12/01/12)

In addition to the technical options and considerations, throughout the report there are a number of important and timely comments around the skills issue for installation, AND, for behavioural operation, as the following extracts show:

… skills shortages will be a serious barrier to decarbonising heating unless addressed effectively

… behavioural aspects are very important. Studies in the UK and overseas tend
to reveal a variation of typically 3:1 between the upper and lower tails of the
energy use (between the 5% and 95% cases in the distribution) in technically
similar dwellings occupied by people from demographically similar
backgrounds. To make radical changes, it will therefore be essential to engage the occupiers.

… the lack of inter-discplinary work:

(A Cautionary Tale Case study): The initial problem they faced was finding a single contractor who would take responsibility for the whole installation including the GSHP, ground coils, underloor heating and the integration of the new system with their existing heating and DHW installations. Eventually, despite having contacted the Low Carbon Partnership and the Energy Savings Trust, they had to place separate contracts with a heat pump installer, a groundwork contractor, a plumber and an electrician for different parts of the work.

The work went ahead and a 16kW heat pump, 150m of slinkies, a thermostore tank, solar collectors, two underfloor heating coils and room thermostats were installed.

When the system was operational the householder was shocked to find the electricity bill increased from £30 per month to £250. After 18 months of high electricity consumption and many visits by the different companies involved, it emerged that the heat pump had been wrongly connected so it was providing heat to the underfloor heating at the temperature required by the storage cylinder for DHW and, although the room thermostats were controlling the pumps on the underfloor heating manifold, they had not been interlocked with the heat pump which, in consequence, was running continuously at its maximum return temperature.

… often there was no single contractor responsible for the installation, which might involve a ground works contractor, a plumber, a heat pump installer and an electrician. As a result of there being no ‘design authority’ for the whole system, there was no single point of responsibility or any liability for the eventual performance of the installation

… there is clearly a need for many more engineers and technicians who understand the systems engineering that has to go into a heat pump installation and who can integrate the various energy systems in a customer’s house. The present provision in higher education and further education is well below what will be required. This could be a significant brake on the deployment of low-energy systems

“Our building performance studies show unmanageable complication is the enemy of good performance. So why are we making things more complicated in the name of sustainability?” – Bill Bordass,  The Usable Buildings Trust

and in conclusion:

17.4  Skills
The levels of applications engineering required to integrate a heat pump in a property along with local energy sources and other intelligent loads, such as chargers for electric cars, is much higher than is generally available in the trades that traditionally provide heating and related services to domestic consumers. A new type of energy use professional will be needed. Recruiting these will compete with the demands of new nuclear power, offshore wind and other energy industries that are already flagging-up staff shortages.

Skills shortage will potentially be a serious barrier to decarbonising heating unless addressed effectively.

6 thoughts on “#GreenSkills a serious barrier

  1. Pingback: #GreenSkills a serious barrier - isite - External Blogs - Construction Blogs & Opinion - ConstructionSpace from CareerStructure.com

  2. judi k (@xjudi)

    No qualified heating engineer can be prepared –
    How can they introduce a business plan with no information?

    Do we quote/install for solar panel heating systems? Is this a requirement to be included on every installation regardless of cost difference for standard installations?

    The majority of boiler upgrades are a result of an emergency are the client going to be waiting six months for the work to be carried out like the warmfront scheme?
    Because a family with no heating will take the cheapest /fastest option

    How long is it going to be for the GDP to work out the finance for the work life time of the boiler est. 8yrs x interest on a sub-prime non-credit scored –unsecured loan?

    And who is going to finance the materials and labour to complete the work?.
    Many engineers are self employed .

    To comply with Gas safe/oftec regulations engineers have to be trained work to high standards for that individual to sign off .
    It is very complex to allow trainees and ensure that they do not compromise yourself ,reputation & Livelihood ?

    Is fair Under the Green Deal landlords will be able to make the improvements without having to pay for them upfront. Tenants will repay the cost of the measures through their energy bill savings whilst enjoying a more energy efficient home.(but the landlord still owns an energy efficient home !)

    So many unanswered questions and discussions to be prepared ..


  3. Chris Flaherty (@VietecHeating)

    This is a bit of a generalised statement “plumbers unprepared for move to energy-efficient homes” well some of us are well prepared, just because the Government think the “energy-efficient home” is some sort of new tag line, some installers have been striving to provide this for their customers for years, and are well trained and skilled in their fields, there are plenty of skilleed tradesmen who can provide the installation skills required for energy efficient homes, but the problem is those in power are talking to the wrong people, it is no good asking someone high up in some corporation their opinion, because they don’t know, it is no good asking training establishments their opinion, as they will say that the skill set is low, as it will be beneficial to their business to have more training, but then the training is written by someone else who does not know, so the training is poor and leads to poorly qualified installers, the people that need to be appproached are the installers who have the knowledge and skills, it is us who are better informed to say what is needed, it is us who are better skilled to pass on our knowledge, but the Government would rather busy itself talking to people who think they are important, but have no knowledge of the industry they claim they represent.


  4. judi k (@xjudi)

    Thank you Im booked for the manchester connection but its two months away

    I have also contacted the
    The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies BUT membership for a sole trader or 1-5 is £500 per year for an initial commitment of three years !!

    The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies comprises a network of 20 Hub training providers with over 100 cluster members developing provision to deliver accredited environmental technologies training.

    All provision is matched by mapping to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) and aims to provide employers with training which meet the Legislation currently under development, to be introduced in 2012, to meet the requirements of the European Directive 2009/28/EC relating to Individual Competence for the Installation of Renewable Energy Installations, for which an announcement, awaited from MCS, will indicate how these requirements are expected to be integrated into the MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme).

    Only individual competence certificated assessment provision (currently EAL, City & Guilds and BPEC for Solar PV and Solar Thermal only and appropriate Universities and providers offering Foundation Degree Units mapped to SummitSkills FD Framework) will meet the Individual Competence requirements that will be announced by MCS in November 2011, in line with the Microgeneration Strategy and Government Industry Action Plan (Action 13 -17 in Strategy and Working Group 3 item c in Action Plan at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/microgen/strategy/strategy.aspx).

    Discussions are ongoing and it is identified that all three schemes:

    · MCS (DECC)

    · Competent Persons Scheme (DCLG)

    · Green Deal (DECC)

    will be using the same criteria.

    Discussions with devolved administrations indicate they are likely to mirror requirements.

    The Skills Academy will provide a step-change from existing training, much of which is not matched to the National Occupational Standards and does not deliver to meet the future requirements of the Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS) related to individual competence.

    The Skills Academy is developing common Trainer and Learners Material, which will be used across the Skills Academy network and as part of that process is carrying out an appropriate Train the Trainer process with a network of Trainers and Master Trainers already in development across the Skills Academy, to support ongoing quality development.

    In addition, in preparation for the introduction of the legislation in 2012 all individuals undertaking training for recognized Environmental Technologies Training, matched to the competence requirements of the National Occupational Standards, will be registered on a central database of individual competence administered by the Skills Academy.

    Shape your future with membership of the
    National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies
    The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies is a unique
    opportunity for you to help shape, influence and drive forward training in
    environmental technologies, and transform the future of skills and competence
    in the sector.
    Run in partnership with employers and manufacturers, the Skills Academy addresses
    current and future skills challenges and take a national approach to training needs and
    related provision. Employers will be consulted and trained at local level but have the
    benefit of receiving nationally-coordinated training from providers who are plugged into a
    wider, quality-assured network.
    Becoming a member of the National Skills Academy is the perfect way to not only
    demonstrate your own commitment to the future’s low carbon workforce, but also gain
    some valuable benefits in the process.
    What would being part of the Skills Academy offer you?
    Ø More business opportunities – greater competitive advantage through better
    training which has been developed based on your needs
    Ø Enhanced reputation – be known in the marketplace as a supporter and
    provider of quality installations
    Ø Greater customer satisfaction – quality installations mean fewer complaints
    and happier customers
    Ø Easier up-skilling of operatives – access to approved qualifications and
    continued professional development
    Ø Credibility – the Skills Academy is endorsed by the Government-funded Skills
    Funding Agency
    Ø Partnership – your views heard by other like-minded individuals who
    committed to supporting the industry
    Ø Recognised qualifications – development of qualifications that meet industry
    standards for existing technologies, plus new technologies as they emerge
    Ø High quality provision – information about your local network of training
    Ø Progression – gives you access to a bigger pool of qualified operatives through
    the promotion of building services engineering as a career of choice
    Ø Competence leveraging – training recognised by the Microgeneration
    Certification Scheme, and the funding requirements for Feed in Tariffs and the
    Renewable Heat Incentive
    Ø Knowledge retention – help you keep your business’ expertise which would
    otherwise be lost as workers retire and new technology is introduced
    What kind of companies would enjoy being members?
    Ø Those with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, as well as a vision that can inspire and
    Ø Financially capable of supporting the endeavours of the Skills Academy
    Ø An understanding of the sector’s businesses
    Ø An in-depth understanding of the education and training needs of employers
    Ø A record of business success to share with learning providers
    Your financial commitment – which will be matched pound for pound by
    the Skills Funding Agency – is vital to ensure the successful launch and
    continued achievement of the Skills Academy.
    Benefits of membership
    There are three membership levels for you to choose from:
    • Four vouchers worth £100 each towards training delivered through the Skills
    • A dedicated regional operations manager for you to consult with
    • Access to the regional steering groups
    • Opportunity to nominate programmes or training courses for Skills Academy
    • Access to Skills Academy products and services and member-only events
    • Opportunity to partner with the Skills Academy for funding bids
    • Access to the Skills Academy online knowledge hub
    • Membership certificate and bespoke logo to add to your own promotional materials
    • Regular updates by email on the activity of the Skills Academy
    Gold – all the benefits of Silver membership plus:
    • Promotion of your organisation through a dedicated entry on the Skills Academy
    website and a direct link to your own site
    • Six additional training vouchers (10 in total) *
    • Discounted opportunities at events, conferences and award ceremonies
    Platinum – all benefits of Gold membership plus:
    • Individual recognition of your organisation as a significant founding investor of the
    Skills Academy
    • Your name and logo on all of the Skills Academy brochures and promotional
    • Ten additional training vouchers (20 in total) *
    * training vouchers are awarded during and valid for the first year of your membership only
    Membership fees
    Membership of the Skills Academy is available to all sector employers for an initial
    commitment of three years as follows:
    Platinum – a very limited number of companies at £30,000 per year
    Gold – a limited number of companies at £10,000 per year
    Silver – unlimited and based on number of employees:
    Ø 1 – 15 employees – £500 per year
    Ø 16 – 25 employees – £1,000 per year
    Ø 26 – 49 employees – £3,000 per year
    Ø 50 + employees – £5,000 per year
    all fees exclude VAT at the current rate
    Become a member today
    Speak to your regional operations manager today (www.summitskills.org.uk/nations) to
    discuss which level of participation is right for your business.



Please add your comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s