The transition to Net Zero means there is a need to train over 1 million people in the coming 20-30 years. Similarly, urgent action is required to encourage a more diverse pool of entrants into the heating workforce, where women account for only 2% and those with ethnic minority backgrounds make up 5%.
With 29 million homes needing to be decarbonised by 2050, the UK faces multiple challenges including a complex, disruptive and inefficient consumer journey, lack of quality control, and an underprepared education sector. These issues need to be overcome in order to redress the skills gap and meet demand in the UK’s energy workforce.
Existing education in the energy and construction sectors is essentially about new buildings and gas heating. The current set of skills in the market will need significant upgrades and new occupations will have to be created such as controls systems engineers and retrofit advisors.
A whole building and systems approach, digital tools and innovation are required but are not currently integrated into syllabuses. Coordination at national and regional levels will need to be underpinned by Net Zero skills in order to meet UK decarbonisation targets.
Energy Systems Catapult’s mission to help the UK realise Net Zero requires a skilled workforce to make it easy and desirable for people to decarbonise buildings, particularly domestic ones. The Catapult has conducted foresighting on the retrofit process using forecasts on emerging skills to identify the gaps in current provision and future need; determining the potential to future-proof the UK’s workforce.
Energy Systems Catapult focuses on identifying the skills and knowledge required to create a Net-Zero mission-driven, customer-focused workforce that employs a whole-systems approach to both the supply chain and individual properties; embracing the use of innovative digital tools.
A satisfactory customer journey in retrofit will only happen if the workforce has the requisite skills and the challenge now is to work with training providers and industry to prepare learning resources for practitioners that are accessible, informative, and demonstrably worthy of investing in for the future success of their business.
Energy Systems Catapult has also contributed towards a Retrofit Training and Skills Assessment for the Greater South-East Net Zero Hub (GSENZH). To assess the shortfall in the skills required to deliver Net Zero, the Catapult estimated the work required to transform housing in the region and the skills required to do it. This was completed by modelling the performance of all homes (c.10 million) in the GSENZH area and assessing what work is required to bring them up to Net Zero standard. The analysis indicated that meeting Net Zero requirements across all housing in this specific area requires around 46,500 full-time equivalent workers each year to 2050, enabling the GSENZH to develop achievable plans towards their Net Zero future.