Training voucher scheme launched to help industry install renewable heating systems

Published:  24 October, 2013

Today, Energy Secretary Edward Davey set up a £500,000 fund aimed at raising the skill set of domestic heating engineers, to enable them to install and maintain renewable heating systems.

Today (24 October 2013) Energy Secretary Edward Davey set up a £500,000 fund aimed at raising the skill set of domestic heating engineers, to enable them to install and maintain renewable heating systems.

The voucher scheme will be backed up by an apprenticeship initiative, which will encourage people coming into the industry to develop the necessary expertise to work on these systems and gain relevant qualification credits. Based on the results of this initiative, the department will look to increase funding and support for the supply chain.

Giving consumers and installers reliable information is an important part of helping them make decisions about their heating system. The Energy Savings Trust is also later today publishing guides for consumers covering a range of low-carbon heat technologies.

Of the new voucher scheme, Davey said: “I hope this will encourage installers to get training in new renewable technology and make it a lot easier for them. Certainly it should cut the cost. The government wants to help installers to take new opportunities, and this is going to be a really growing market as the [domestic] RHI comes into place

“With the latest roll-outs of technology, inevitably you will need to retrain people and train new, young people through apprenticeships.”

Davey also acknowledged the crucial role of the installer in spreading awareness to consumers: “We know the installers are the key salesmen for renewable heat and we hope that those who go on these courses – when talking to people in their sitting rooms and kitchens, over a cup of tea – will be able to advise and give [consumers] all the choices. If they’re currently doing gas they may want them to do a very high-efficient gas boiler, or if they’re off the gas grid for example, then air-to-water heat pumps or biomass might be the best way for them to go.

"In many instances, not only will the engineers' advice and work reduce the environmental impact of heating our homes, but it will also reduce people's heating bills. A win-win situation for everyone."

Installers can register their interest now by visiting www.rhitraining.co.uk or by dialling 0844 870 9459.

Industry response

Industry members have welcomed the new voucher scheme.

Roger Webb, director of the Heating & Hotwater Industry Council, said: “This is excellent news; upskilling installers so that they are proficient in renewables technology is essential if we want these technologies to become commonplace. As an industry we are committed to promoting the right people with the right skills for the right job, and fully support any measures taken to help improve installers’ skills.”

Paul Hardy, managing director of Baxi, also commended the move. “The training support is a step in the right direction," he said. "Schemes like the domestic RHI are set to place increased importance on renewable products in the domestic market, but many installers lack the necessary qualifications or training to install this equipment. By making sure that heating engineers have the necessary expertise to properly explain, recommend and install renewable heating systems, homeowners are much more likely to become aware of the benefits and invest accordingly.

Lindsay Gillespie, executive director of SummitSkills, added: "SummitSkills is very pleased to welcome this scheme as it just the sort of support that businesses have been asking for. It should encourage the building services engineering sector to take the step of upskilling its workforce in anticipation of the domestic RHI coming into force in spring next year.

Lindsay Gillespie, executive director of SummitSkills, added: "SummitSkills is very pleased to welcome this scheme as it just the sort of support that businesses have been asking for. It should encourage the building services engineering sector to take the step of upskilling its workforce in anticipation of the domestic RHI coming into force in spring next year.

Graeme Dryden, technical services manager, APHC said: “The vouchers will be a big help to those who wish to undertake the relevant training, however I would urge all existing installers looking to apply for these vouchers to choose their training and assessment carefully. One of the key considerations is that the training must include a course that includes a QCF assessment that leads to a qualification that is accredited by an awarding organisation.”