The path for recovery as laid out in the Chancellors of the Exchequer's budget released on the 3rd of March highlighted the UK Governments Plan for Jobs. Increasing support with £126 million of investment, the Chancellor described the plan as a process to support, protect and create jobs offering 40,000 more traineeships and doubling cash incentives to organisations that assist with apprentice schemes.
Mark Wilkins, technologies and training director at Vaillant, has emphasised the importance of using this government funding to aid progression in delivering a green economy. "The Government’s proposed investment in creating new traineeships and further incentives for employers to hire apprentices is to be welcomed," said Wilkins. "Especially at a time when there is an urgent need to address the skills gap in industries such as ours.
“However, if the Government is to achieve its ambition to drive a ‘green industrial revolution’ in this country, it is vital that these apprenticeships are geared towards delivering the types of sustainable technologies that will lower the UK’s carbon emissions and help it to reach net zero."
Cleaner heating is at the heart of the UK’s efforts to combat climate change. Heating and generating hot water is the biggest source of household greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Energy Saving Trust, those emissions need to be reduced by 95% to meet 2050 Net Zero targets.
As part of the government’s 10-point plan to drive a Green Industrial Revolution, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028, alongside other renewable solutions, with heating systems powered by fossil fuels scheduled to be banned in new-build homes by 2025.
Wilkins explains: “Decarbonising heat in buildings is one of the key areas that need further support if we are to achieve the 2050 net zero target. But at the moment, there are not enough qualified engineers on the ground to deliver low carbon heating at the scale required. That’s why more needs to be done to incentivise the current and next generation of installers to undertake the necessary training.
“Vaillant already offers courses and works with industry bodies in developing formal training programmes and frameworks, but part of the traineeship investment should go towards supporting more engineers to train in designing and installing low carbon heating solutions, whether that’s for heat pump or hydrogen-based systems. If the Government plans to use £12bn to create a UK Infrastructure Bank and invest in long-term projects like renewable energy, it also needs to ensure that there are sufficient engineers on the ground to install the associated systems at the point of use.
"The Green Homes Grant’s failure to meet the targets promised serves as an example of what can happen if the number of skilled professionals does not match funding to deliver what’s needed."
“As ever, the devil will be in the detail, and we await further announcements to see if the proposed programmes will help to bridge the skills gap that is currently limiting our ability to roll out energy-saving measures and low-carbon technologies.”