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Green Deal poses skills challenges

‘Challenge of upskilling workforce for Green Deal cannot be underestimated, but SMEs can profit’, says research.

Keith Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of SummitSkills

The scale of the challenge to upskill and accredit the workforce and training providers in time for the Green Deal cannot be under-estimated – but SMEs can profit from the scheme.

Published this week, the ‘Research to support the development of a Green Deal Competency Framework’ study surveyed more than 400 employers and training providers from the energy assessment, advice and construction and built environment sectors across England, Wales and Scotland.

Commissioned by the Green Deal Skills Alliance (GDSA) – a collaboration between SummitSkills, Asset Skills and CITB-ConstructionSkills – the study gathered views on the skills, knowledge and training that will be needed to deliver the Green Deal.

The majority of employers thought that although larger firms were more likely to dominate the Green Deal market, real opportunities for SMEs to win work would be made available through subcontracting for larger firms. Respondents also indicated that the scheme had the potential to boost firms’ turnover by up to 20%, and nearly a third of the workforce has the basic skills needed to deliver the scheme.

However, amongst the concerns raised was that the workforce lacked knowledge in areas such as building fabrics and the impact of energy efficiency measures on different types of buildings; so upskilling the workforce was still an urgent priority to make the scheme a success.

Other issues highlighted in the report include:
· There is a lack of training in place to equip firms with Green Deal-type skills
· There is a low awareness of the Green Deal amongst the workforce
· In this economic climate neither SMEs nor training providers will begin upskilling for the scheme unless there is a demand from consumers
· The current training is too generic and lacks detail about certain specific areas including insulation, building regulations an energy performance assessment

Keith Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of SummitSkills (pictured), said: “Green Deal offers real opportunities for growth, so we are working with our partner sector skills councils to identify training requirements and provide development opportunities that could help employers in our sector through these tough times, as well as meeting the predicted consumer demand for renewable energy.

“Our National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies is already at the coalface, helping to equip installers with the skills that will be needed if the Green Deal is to achieve its potential to help the UK meet its challenging carbon reduction targets.”

Sarah Bentley, Chief Executive of Asset Skills, added: “This report gives a frank appraisal of both the skills needed for the Green Deal and the concerns surrounding its introduction.
“Our work with Green Deal Energy Assessors and Advisors concentrates on ensuring quality and consistency of learning which will help address some of these concerns and encourage consumer confidence.

“A well-trained Green Deal workforce will know their responsibilities and will be aware of the code of practices that exist. Asset Skills is pleased to be working with ConstructionSkills and SummitSkills on delivering good-quality training and skills for Green Deal.”

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills commented: “We know there is disquiet within the industry about larger firms dominating the Green Deal market. We are working to support SMEs so they can discover and unlock the scheme’s commercial and employment opportunities through our Cut the Carbon campaign and our work as part of the Green Deal Skills Alliance.

“We also recognise that there has to be training available before upskilling can begin, and without consumer demand training providers cannot afford to develop training. To address this issue we are working with the Government to ensure there are no shortfalls of Green Deal type training.

“Finally, with our GDSA partners, we are developing the standards and qualifications in the form of our Green Deal Competency Framework to ensure assessors and installers have the right skills to carry out Green Deal work.”

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