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Environmental training still has way to go

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The amount of environmental technology training available is not enough to meet potential demand, and could lead to rogue traders and poorly installed kit, according to a new report by SummitSkills, the sector skills council for the building services engineering (BSE) sector.

In the final report of its Labour Market Intelligence series, Potential Training Demand in Environmental Technologies in Building Services Engineering: Stage 3 Demand and Supply Gap Analysis, SummitSkills has identified a worrying lack of appropriate environmental technology training to meet future demand, and a small number of training providers that are not checking the basic competencies of their students before allowing them to train.

The report found no region or devolved nation in the UK was anywhere near prepared to meet the potential demand for training that could occur in the next few years. Further, a small proportion of training providers don’t require trainees to be experienced or qualified in the relevant BSE trade that is appropriate to the technology being studied.

“The potential lack of provision is particularly worrying given the Government’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions from the UK’s housing stock by 2020 under the Green Deal,” says Dr Michael Hammond, research manager at SummitSkills.

“Also environmental technology training is not a skillset which can be singled out – it is an extension of the skills already learned by BSE sector operatives and should be treated as such, from the entry level learning stage right through to current operator training.”

Given the recent Green Deal announcements by the government, it is a cause for concern that a significant minority of the training providers surveyed were unaware of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). The impact of this could leave learners unable to apply for the MCS registration they will need if householders they work for are to get access to funding from the government.

Dr Hammond says: “There is a level of responsibility here for both employers and training providers. “Employers are already asking for existing tradesmen to be up-skilled to fit and maintain environmental technologies rather than introducing new environmental apprenticeships. When they choose their training provider, they need to bear in mind that only technologies fitted by MCS-accredited installers will be eligible to access Feed-In Tariffs and other financial incentives for their customers.

“At the training level, providers need to be more selective about the base competencies of entry level learners. In the same vein training providers need to be aware that their environmental technology training courses could be a springboard for MCS accreditation,” concluded Dr Hammond.

SummitSkills is already looking at ways it can work with the BSE sector to provide guidance on environmental technology training. In February it launched the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies, a network of accredited training providers.

For more information on the Stage 3 Report and the Skills Academy, visit

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