The Government’s new Net Zero Strategy could create thousands of new jobs in the trades sector – but we need to start training them now, the HomeServe Foundation has warned.
The plan, unveiled this week, includes an investment of £3.95bn to support low emission homes including new £5,000 grants to replace gas boilers with clean alternatives such as heat pumps.
The Government’s own estimates suggest carrying out the work will support 100,000 jobs in the mid 2020s and 175,000 in 2030.
But the charity warns the recruitment and training process will need to start now, if we are to reach the targets.
Helen Booth, director of the HomeServe Foundation, the charity of home repairs and improvement firm HomeServe PLC, said:
“The Government’s commitment to decarbonising the nation’s homes is crucial to us achieving our nation’s binding Net Zero targets, and represents a wonderful opportunity for the industry.
“But we need to tackle the fact that the skills needed to deliver these technologies do not yet exist in enough volume.
“The vast majority of boiler engineering work is undertaken by small, local businesses. Most don’t yet have the skills to transfer from traditional to renewable technologies like heat pumps. And the reality is that the trades sector is already experiencing high demand due to an existing skills shortage.
“More thought needs to be given to where the skills to deliver on this plan will come from. Put simply, if the demand is there, we could have a major supply issue.
“We need to see a commitment now to train the next generation of trades and heating engineers to not only install heat pumps or hydrogen boilers in the longer term, but to also have the skills to service and repair this new technology.”
Nearly a quarter of the UK’s emissions comes from heating buildings, with the majority of that from people’s homes. The Climate Change Committee estimates 19 million UK homes are currently ranked in the lowest band for energy efficiency and will need broader work to increase insulation before heat pumps can be fitted.
According to the UK Domestic Trades Skills Index, the UK needs to train 305,000 apprentices in the construction and trades sector by 2030 to cope with the increase in demand – that’s a 44 per cent increase year-on-year.
Helen added: “For many of the skills needed to carry out this important work, good quality training is required. Heat engineering apprenticeships currently take 18 months to complete, or four years for an electrician.
“We’d like to see some progress in developing adaptations to the existing professional qualifications for skilled trades people including apprenticeships, together with a robust set of industry standards to ensure we have safe green engineering skills in place on the ground.”
For more details on recruiting a trades apprentice.