John Renwick: How Scotland’s colleges are supporting the journey to net zero

John Renwick: How Scotland’s colleges are supporting the journey to net zero

John Renwick

As part of Scotland Excel’s ‘Supporting the journey to net zero’ campaign, John Renwick, sector manager construction at ESP, reveals how Scotland’s colleges are transitioning at pace to develop low carbon heat and energy efficiency training facilities.

The Scottish Government is investing £13 billion as part of the transition to become Net Zero by 2045.

It has also set legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 75% by 2030, and by 2040 they are committed to further reduce emissions by 90%. These targets are challenging, but it’s important as a nation that we work together and build upon our strengths to ensure Scotland becomes a greener environment for our future.

This investment will generate significant opportunities for communities across Scotland and support high value local jobs. As part of this transition, ESP is leading on developments in Scotland’s colleges enabling delivery of Scotland’s Heat In Building Strategy (HIBS). ESP has gained substantial investment over the last few years from the Scottish Government and SP Energy Network Green Economy Fund. This funding has allowed colleges to speed up the expansion of new and existing facilities ensuring that a national training infrastructure is in place to meet the demand.

There are around 3000 low and zero emissions heating systems installed in Scotland per year. By 2025, the projected install rate needs to be at least 64,000 per year and in the late 2020s, this figure is estimated to be around 200,000 annual installs in Scotland.

The Building Skills for Net Zero report highlights that 4,300 plumbing and HVAC engineers will be required by 2028 to meet the demand for heat pump installation. The report goes on to say that new Energy Efficiency measures will require retraining and creating new roles by 2028 affecting 22,500 people.

Working with our Energy Efficiency Training Network, ESP has increased colleges’ capability and capacity to deliver on Net Zero targets. In 2020 there were four colleges in Scotland offering low carbon heat training courses, there are now 17 colleges across Scotland offering a wide range of training in these subjects. Colleges train approximately 5000 students annually on entry level construction courses; these candidates are work ready to move into apprenticeships to address the skills gaps in the energy sector. Colleges remain committed to growing and expanding their training facilities to ensure a sustainable college infrastructure supporting the industry of the future.

ESP recognise that public procurement is the vehicle to improve the skills and quality within the supply chain and that this requires collaborative effort. In 2020 a group of trade bodies and standard setting organisations, led by ESP, developed a minimum competence for tradespeople to install energy efficiency and low carbon systems in Scotland. The Installer Skills Matrix was developed to help industry transition into this sector, this is now public and has been incorporated into the updated BSI PAS 2030 document that was published in February 2022.

For small-scale renewables, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) welcomes the Installers Skills Matrix. The scheme plans to link to the matrix to help installers understand the training and qualifications they need to demonstrate their competency.

Scotland Excel has adopted the minimum skills competencies. This collaboration between Scotland Excel, ESP, and a number of different agencies will help bridge gaps and ensure the supply chain is equipped to deal with demand in the coming years.

It’s time to address the skills needs as a nation. ESP is calling on the public and private sector companies to take on new starts or upskill the existing workforce to enable Scotland to have the skills in place to make Scotland Net Zero by 2045.

Funding is available to help the supply chain transition into this sector, contact your local college for details.

  • John Renwick, sector manager construction at ESP, recently spoke at Scotland Excel’s Energy Efficiency Conference and Expo ‘Building a Net Zero Scotland’ that took place in Edinburgh in May.

More than 200 people from across the built environment and energy efficiency sectors attended the one-day event held to launch the renewal of Scotland Excel’s Energy Efficiency Contractors framework. It brought together leading energy and climate experts to discuss how the public and private sectors can work together to combat the climate emergency and achieve the Scottish Government’s goal of a Net Zero Scotland by 2045.

You can view the films of the presentations and slides of each speaker through Scotland Excel’s website.

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