UK’s first low-carbon heating apprenticeship secures funding from Westminster

Pictured: A home fitted with a heat pump

Standards body MSC and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) co-developed the Low-Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship with input from several of the UK’s largest heat pump installation firms.

It is a course that will prepare those looking to enter technician roles in the heat pump sector, whereby their day-to-day job will involve installing and maintaining low-carbon heating systems for buildings.

MCS estimates that the UK will need to play home to 57,000 full-time heat pump technicians by 2030 if the nation is to meet its installation targets.

Westminster has set out a vision for 600,000 heat pump installations annually by 2028 but policymakers have repeatedly been warned of looming skills gaps potentially jeapordising delivery. For context, fewer than 850 people completed related training during 2022.

The Department for Education has this week confirmed the funding band for the new, first-of-its-kind Low-Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship. Colleges will be able to claim up to £22,000 for every apprentice they take on. This is a higher funding band than is currently on offer for apprenticeships relating to boiler installation and maintenance.

The Department’s confirmation of funding comes after the King marked the apprenticeship with his Coronation emblem earlier this year. This decision was taken to highlight the need to grow green skills as the UK works towards its climate goals and levelling up ambitions.

MCS’s chief executive Ian Rippin said: “Until now, the country’s efforts to increase our number of low-carbon heating installers have been delivered through short bolt-on courses after completion of a traditional fossil fuel heating installation course.

“It is critical that we have dedicated courses to develop an army of renewable heating installers with certifiable skills who know how to design and fit these systems efficiently. Most importantly, this workforce will know how to support British homeowners in heating and decarbonising their homes.”

An MCS spokesperson told edie that it may not be possible to start training the first apprentices this year, as it will take colleges time to prepare. However, several, including New City College in London, have already expressed an interest in offering the course.

Cost concerns

According to MCS, a record 122,155 homes in Britain installed low-carbon heating and/or rooftop solar during the first half of 2023.

While these technologies are proving popular, research has revealed repeatedly that the upfront costs of heat pumps are still prohibitively high for most homes.

The Government is currently consulting on changes to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to make it easier for a wider range of households to claim grants for heat pumps, and to increase the maximum grant for some properties. The consultations will run until 12 October.

Comments (1)

  1. David Dundas says:

    Increasing the number of trained engineers to install heat pumps are their support equipment is great news long overdue, but Government financial support is still inadequate, particularly for ground source which are more energy efficient than air source in winter. With only 26 years for the world to stop the rise of global air temperatures, a greater financial incentive is essential, and the UK needs to set a good example for the rest of the world and help less fortunate nations to do their bit, after all we started the first indistrial revolution fuelled by fossil fuels.

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