Thursday, March 08, 2012

£3.5m for Green Deal apprenticeships

external insulation on a block of flats

The Coalition Government has announced a new fund of £3.5m to train Green Deal assessors and installers, and a further £10m to improve the energy efficiency of non-domestic buildings.

In the wake of complaints from the Green Deal Skills Alliance (GDSA) about a lack of awareness amongst contractors of energy efficiency measures and the Green Deal, a fund of £3.5million has been announced today by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey to help train hundreds of people in key green skills ahead of its launch.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, had promised a year ago to create 1,000 Green Deal apprenticeships, and this funding, offered together with CITB-ConstructionSkills, is intended to make good on this promise.

That organisation, a member of the Green Deal Skills Alliance, is contributing £500,000 towards training installers of insulation, while DECC itself is putting forward the remaining £3m.

As pointed out by Brian Smithers, business development director of Rexel UK, there is still a widespread lack of understanding and awareness of how green technologies can help people improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce bills.

This is despite the fact that since October 2010, the government has been running a "Cut the Carbon campaign in partnership with the Federation of Master Builders and National Specialist Contractors Council, to raise construction companies’ awareness of the Green Deal legislation.

"Rexel’s recent energy efficiency survey found that over a quarter of Brits would be motivated to save energy if they had access to financial subsidies, yet 90% hadn’t heard of schemes such as Carbon Trust Loans," Mr Smithers said today.

The news was welcomed by industry bodies, including the National Insulation Association, and even greeted enthusiastically by Andrew Warren, Director of the Association of the Conservation of Energy, normally a critic of the government's action on energy efficiency, who said: “Whilst the energy efficiency industry has a proud track record on training, it is excellent news that the enormous size of the task before us is being recognised by the Secretary of State in such an immensely practical way”.

Solid wall insulation will be central to the success of Green Deal and ECO. Mike Threadgold, Chairman of the INCA Training Committee said, “this funding will help to increase capacity within the industry to meet the surge in demand. SWI requires highly specialist skills and, by investing in the training and qualification of the workforce, the industry will be able to continue to deliver the highest quality standards.”

The Green Deal is the Government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme aimed at renovating millions of draughty, energy-inefficient homes and office buildings across the UK.

The scheme will begin in the autumn of this year and will support an estimated 65,000 jobs by 2015, but the financial details have yet to be announced.

Ed Davey said: “This money will help hundreds of people gear up for the Green Deal and ensure this scheme is a real success on the ground. We hope this will encourage businesses across the country to fully prepare their staff for the launch of the Green Deal later this year.”

CITB-ConstructionSkills CEO Mark Farrar called on employers and the supply chain to also invest in sustainable skills training for their workforce, so they too can capitalise on the Green Deal.

A Green Deal Competency Framework is being prepared, which will be an integrated portfolio of National Occupational Standards and qualifications to identify the standards of work and knowledge required to become an energy assessor, adviser or installer; these standards and qualifications will span a range of occupations.

The British Standards Institute (BSI) recently launched a new PAS2030 standard for all installers. Co-developed between DECC and industry representatives to ensure robust and deliverable standards as well as peace of mind and protection for consumers; details can be found on the BSI website.

To raise awareness of the Green Deal, the alliance is running events and other schemes to help employers, trade unions, learners and providers to identify opportunities for them; details of these are available on its website.

The new training will be administered by the Sector Skills Councils on behalf of the Green Deal Alliance. This group is made up of several existing skills groups - Construction Skills, Asset Skills, Summit Skills, whose members themselves are made up of representatives of the industries concerned.

£10 million competition

In addition, DECC is also funding a £10m competition to be launched in early May to support the incorporation of innovative technologies which can achieve significant energy savings in existing non-domestic buildings.

Non-domestic buildings, such as schools, shops, offices, hotels, are associated with 18% of the UK’s total carbon emissions so reducing energy demand in this sector will help the country meet its climate targets.

This programme will be delivered in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board. Details of how to apply will appear on DECC and TSB’s respective websites by early May. Innovative solutions will be encouraged from consortia of key supply chain players, including building owners and technology suppliers, to demonstrate the energy performance of innovative products or processes which could ultimately be accredited under the Green Deal.

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