Rishi Sunak, the MP for Richmond (Yorks), visited renewables training provider GTEC to learn more about efforts to create the ‘green' installers needed to meet carbon reduction targets.
At the end of last year, Hawes-based GTEC won a bid to provide discounted training and certification to individuals and companies looking to upskill into heat-based renewables, backed by The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through Midlands Energy Hub (MEH).
The Renewable Heat Installer Training & Support Scheme (RHITSS) offers vouchers which provide up to 70% off the cost of becoming a renewables installer. There are currently 1,000 training places and 150 businesses signed-up to RHITSS - spaces that were filled within 10 days of the schemes launch. Vouchers can be used at GTEC and also other LCL Awards and BPEC approved centres throughout the UK.
While at the centre, Sunak met with candidates to find out how training was helping them and reviewed the range of renewable technologies available at GTEC. He also chatted to other industry representatives: awarding organisation LCL Awards, installer certification body NAPIT, and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), all of which GTEC have worked with to make the RHITSS scheme a success.
He said: "Despite Covid, and with the knowledge that there is a framework of national funding support introduced by government, GTEC has really seized an opportunity and are now a key player in the UK's national strategy to achieve Net Zero.
Rishi Sunak with Darren Jones of Jones Plumbing & Heating
"The RHITSS scheme has been a great success; GTEC has been able to pull together many different parts of the low carbon sector to deliver this ambitious programme very quickly. It's been great to meet a local company playing their part in such an important national cause.''
The trip provided an opportunity to meet a constituency company that is thriving despite the challenges of Covid-19. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) gave GTEC the confidence to put together the winning bid for RHITTS, a scheme which has created jobs in the local area - at GTEC and for the installers benefitting from the new business opportunities that the training has led to.
GTEC's managing director, Griff Thomas, is a key representative for his industry, chairing the Decarbonising Housing Group for Richmondshire and having contributed to most of the national renewable technology standards.
He said: "It was a pleasure to meet Rishi and see his obvious enthusiasm for a low carbon future. We discussed the need for long-term and sustainable support to give to installers the confidence to invest in career development and the green agenda. The achievements of RHITSS is an example of what can happen when industry collaborates."
The visit coincided with confirmation from Midlands Energy Hub and BEIS that the RHITSS scheme has had its deadline extended to September 30 (previously May 14), in recognition of the difficulties that some candidates have had in securing a place due to Covid restrictions.
Mark Krull. director of LCL Awards, said: "To ensure Net Zero is met, a long term and well defined plan is needed so that installers, manufacturers and training companies are able to warrant future investment. Recognised, high quality qualifications are key to this approach, and as Griff's work globally is proving, the UK has an opportunity to lead in this field."
Michael Gallagher, regional energy project manager at MEH, added: "We recognise the hard work invested by GTEC in delivering such a large scale and time limited project, which not only looks to support a national low carbon economy deliver, but also the government's longer term decarbonisation objectives."