26 April 2023
In 2020, the UK Government’s 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution set a target to install 600,000 heat pumps each year by 2028. It is estimated that 100,000 heat pump installers are required to meet this ambition, however latest figures show that there are currently just 1,500 MCS accredited businesses in the UK.
Vaillant recently surveyed more than 1,300 installers, registered on Vaillant’s loyalty programme Advance, to get a deeper understanding of their barriers and motivators behind retraining to be able to offer customers low carbon technologies such as heat pumps.
Most recently, an inquiry into the success of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme revealed that the uptake of retrofit heat pump technology in UK homes is slower than anticipated.
This was also reflected in the research, with 82% of installers surveyed currently not installing heat pumps. Encouragingly, the majority of those who took part in the survey recognised a need to train, with 87% of installers answering ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ when asked if they were interested in undertaking air source heat pump training in the next 12 months.
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 the benefits for the environment by supporting the net zero agenda.
These motivators were largely similar for the 18% of installers who were already installing heat pumps, with their top three motivators being future-proofing their business, readying themselves for an expected increase in customer demand for heat pumps, and the environmental credentials installing heat pumps provides.
The design of a heat pump system is incredibly important, both in meeting end user expectations and to ensure 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 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.
What’s more, 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.
A lack of support from the Government appeared to be the biggest barrier to undertaking heat pump training, with more than 70% of those surveyed saying they felt the Government needed to do more. More than 40% of installers surveyed also felt that the Government should cover the cost of heat pump training in order to achieve the 600,000 heat pump installations target.
Vaillant’s research was conducted prior to 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, and 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.”
For more information on Vaillant’s current training offer for installers, please visit: www.vaillant.co.uk/for-installers/training