Home » Green skills boost for UK’s first heat pump apprenticeship

Green skills boost for UK’s first heat pump apprenticeship

by Mark Cantrell
Government allocates £15m for heat pump innovations

The UK’s first ever dedicated low-carbon heating apprenticeship is set to be launched after the government confirmed funding for the scheme.

The Low-Carbon Heating Technician Apprenticeship is intended to equip a new generation of workers to help reach the government’s target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, as the nation shifts away from fossil fuel heating systems and onto renewables.

It has been developed by the standards body for renewables, MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), in collaboration with the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE) and a trailblazer group of heat pump installers.

Ian Rippin, chief executive of MCS, said: “We are pleased that the UK’s first ever heat pump apprenticeship received government approval.

“Until now, the country’s efforts to increase our number of low-carbon heating installers have been delivered through short bolt-on courses after completion of a traditional fossil fuel heating installation course.

“It is critical that we have dedicated pathways to develop an army of renewable heating installers with certifiable skills who know how to design and fit these systems efficiently. Most importantly, this workforce will know how to support homeowners in heating and decarbonising their homes.”

The UK will require 57,000 qualified heat pump installers by the end of the decade if it is to meet government targets for the installation of the renewable energy-powered heating systems. The UK needs to develop a dedicated pipeline of future talent now to make electrification of the country’s heat possible.

Currently, there is no dedicated training provision for heat pump engineers and the Low Carbon Heating Technician Apprenticeship will be a UK-first, dedicated to developing the skills needed to design, install and commission low-carbon heating technologies.

Earlier this year, the apprenticeship was hand-picked by industry experts from IfATE to mark King Charles III’s Coronation in recognition of the important contribution it can make towards encouraging more people to take up careers in green industries. It is one of six green apprenticeships to carry the coronation emblem.

Gold standard

The apprenticeship has now been allocated a funding band by the Department for Education, meaning colleges will receive up to £22,000 for every apprentice.

Industry experts say this funding support will help ensure that colleges have the resources they need to support apprentices from all backgrounds wanting a career in the renewables sector. The funding band is higher than that allocated for equivalent apprenticeships for fossil fuel heating systems.

Jennifer Coupland, IfATE’s chief executive, said the new apprenticeship represents the “gold-standard for green skills”.

“Low carbon heating is at the cutting edge of green tech, and it has been inspiring to work closely with expert employers to create this new opportunity for environmentally minded apprentices,” she added.

“We look forward to seeing it being implemented and urge many employers to offer placements as we all have a role to play in tackling climate change and creating green careers that will stand the test of time.”

Industry support

Andy Louth, managing director of heat pump installer Groundtherm and chair of the employer trailblazer group, said: “It is vitally important that today’s learners are equipped with skills that are fit-for-the-future to help them develop future-proof career paths.

“As an employer, it is reassuring to know that the people I hire will have the necessary skills and access to the right training is the most important part of that. Removing the need for employers to retrain plumbers in low-carbon technology is a huge step in the right direction.

“The employer trailblazer group provided input into the creation and design of the apprenticeship to ensure learning reflects the real world of work as a renewable heating technician.”

Stephen McGreevy, head of school, sustainable construction and building services, at the City of Liverpool College, said: “It is fantastic to see the delivery of the Low Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship. This course will be vital in providing learners with hands-on technical skill development for a future-proof career in the green sector while also allowing them to earn a living while learning.

“We are particularly pleased to see the apprenticeship receive the funding band it deserves from the Government. It will allow colleges like us to take on learners a time when every penny matters.”

Read next: Caldera looks to scale-up manufacture of low-carbon heat cells

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