Low-carbon technologies – Plugging the skills gap

As demand for new low-carbon technologies continues to increase, the UK is being faced with a skills gap. While the government has set ambitious net-zero targets, there currently aren’t enough qualified individuals to support these initiatives and meet the fast-approaching low-carbon goals.

In this article, we’re going to explore the skills gap in the electrical sector, the low-carbon technologies that are on the rise, and the steps that are being taken to plug the skills gap.

The ever-increasing skills gap in the electrical sector

The electrical industry is just one of the many trades facing a shortage of workers. While employers have plenty of available vacancies, they don’t have enough applicants, and those who do apply are often lacking appropriate skills.

The increasing demand for low-carbon technologies means that this skills gap looks set to widen even further. However, with a proactive approach, electricians can turn this into an opportunity to expand their service offerings and attract new clients. With the demand for female tradespeople also on the rise, this is a great opportunity for women to take advantage of a gap in the market while helping to plug the skills gap for low-carbon technologies.


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Low-carbon electrical technologies

As pressure from the government and consumer demand increase, electricians will find themselves receiving more and more requests to install and maintain low-carbon technologies. In turn, the shift away from fossil fuels will see many of the technologies that currently make up an electrician’s daily workload becoming rarer, or even obsolete.

The earlier electricians can embrace low-carbon technologies and invest in the appropriate training and certification, the easier it will be for them to take advantage of this emerging market and increase profits in the long term. Here are some of the low-carbon technologies that electricians should be looking to expand into.


Solar & battery storage

While the UK has plans to reach 70GW of solar capacity by 2035, research from The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP) has found that there aren’t enough qualified electricians to support this. The report suggests that 4,800 to 5,600 more electricians will be needed to meet these solar installation demands.


Electric vehicles

Similarly, the UK’s goal of reaching 300,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging devices by 2030 is currently behind schedule. In January 2023, the Department for Transport estimated that there would need to be a 288% increase in monthly charge point installations to meet this target, which means that there is currently a huge demand for EV charge point fitters. Additionally, the ongoing maintenance of this extensive network of charge points will require skilled workers on a long-term basis, offering an ongoing stream of revenue for qualified tradespeople.


Electrification of heat

As the UK continues to move away from fossil fuels, more is being done to encourage the installation of electric heating. The UK government aims to install 600,000 thousand heat pumps by 2028. However, think tank Nesta estimates that we will need at least 27,000 heat pump engineers by 2028 to meet the government’s target. With only around 3,000 heat pump engineers currently working in the UK, there is a huge shortage of workers to carry out these installations.


What steps are being taken to plug the skills gap?

As the skills gap in the low-carbon industries becomes more apparent, the government and other key institutions have put in place a variety of different grants, bursaries and education initiatives. These steps aim to increase the uptake of skills and qualifications related to the installation and maintenance of low-carbon technologies, supporting both the UK’s Net Zero target and the long-term development of these low-carbon industries.

For those looking to upskill or benefit from an additional revenue stream, these initiatives offer a variety of financial and educational support. Let’s take a look at some of the steps that are being taken to plug this skills gap.


City & Guilds Green Skills Bursaries

City & Guilds offers a variety of bursaries to cover the total cost of studying qualifications for several industries that are facing skills shortages. The Green Skills Bursaries aim to support the transition to zero carbon and create a greener workforce by enabling more people to gain access to the skills they need to enter into a green job.

This includes automotive, building services, construction, employability, energy, environmental, land-based and utilities qualifications offered by City & Guilds. Qualifications vary from Entry Level to Level 4, and each has their own entry requirements.


Green Skills Bootcamps

Skills Bootcamps are government-funded flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, helping people to gain the necessary skills to secure or progress in a job in sectors where there is a shortage of workers. They are available to all adults aged 19 or older who are full-time or part-time employed, self-employed or unemployed, as well as adults returning to work after a break. At the end of the course, participants are guaranteed a job interview, or will be offered a new role or additional responsibilities by their current employer.

There are a variety of different Skills Bootcamps offered by training providers throughout the country, including many under the category of ‘Green skills’. This includes electric vehicle charging, fundamentals of renewable energy types, renewable energy heating, green electrical skills, and many more. Most Skills Bootcamps don’t require previous knowledge or experience in the sector, but they can also be undertaken by those looking to develop their skillset.


Low-Carbon Heating Technician Apprenticeships

The Low Carbon Heating Technician Apprenticeship is the first dedicated apprenticeship of its kind in the UK, helping to develop the skills needed to design, install and commission low-carbon heating technologies. The apprenticeship has been given government funding to support the target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. The maximum government funding for this apprenticeship is £22,000.

As with most apprenticeships, the majority of the training takes place on the job, offering hands-on experience and requiring the ability to work independently with minimal supervision, while also working closely with colleagues and members of the public. The apprenticeship typically takes 36 months to complete and is assessed through a practical evaluation, an interview with an independent assessor, and a multiple-choice test.


Solar Skills London

Solar Skills London is a grants scheme funded by the Mayor of London that aims to support the city’s solar supply chain by providing training for the employees of local businesses. The project offers grants of up to £1,000 for solar businesses and employees to receive training as part of their professional development. Grants are supplied on a reimbursement basis, meaning that trainees will have to cover the cost of the course themselves, before being reimbursed at a later date.

Grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible employees until the initial round of funding has been allocated. The grant is available for companies that have worked on more than four solar projects in London in the last 12 months, and that aren’t accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme to work with solar technologies on domestic or commercial rooftop projects. The individuals undertaking the training must be permanent employees of the company, but this can be full- or part-time.


Heat Training Grant

The government’s Heat Training Grant gives heating engineers up to £500 towards the cost of heat pump training. In most cases, this will be received as a discount on the cost of the training. You are eligible for this grant if you work for a business with 250 employees or fewer, you are a sole trader, or you are unemployed, and if you, or the business you work for, are certified by a competent person scheme for heating and hot water installations.

Courses will be available to trainees from October 2023 to April 2024. Certain heating manufacturers are also offering additional discounts to participating trainees, which you can benefit from in addition to the Heat Training Grant.


Help for consumers

There are many different renewable energy grants and incentives available for consumers, helping them to install low-carbon technologies in their homes and businesses, including:

Heat pump grants

– Solar panel grants

– Smart Export Guarantee

By increasing the demand, these incentives also push manufacturers, installers and tradespeople to focus on low-carbon technologies.

Looking to learn more about low-carbon technologies?

Interested in a career in low-carbon technologies but not sure where to begin? Take a look at our Domestic Installer Course, which will get you started on the right track! One of our most popular electrician courses, it’s designed for those looking to embark on a career as a domestic electrician. It’s the first stage in becoming a fully qualified electrician, and is a great option for those looking to take advantage of the current skills gap.

To find out more about this, or any of our other courses, please get in touch with us online or give us a call on 01444 872 145 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.