SummitSkills plans for training
A report into microgeneration in Wales by SummitSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the building services engineering sector, has revealed a lack of skilled workers and warns the country may be left behind in the race to gain a share in the renewable energy market, unless steps are taken now.
SummitSkills project-managed the report at the request of the Welsh Assembly Government, in conjunction with Sector Skills Council Energy and Utility Skills, to assess the microgeneration requirements of the renewable energy sector in Wales. The report, a Skills for Business Network funded project, also determined the sector’s current and future skills and training requirements to raise the productivity and sustainability of the Welsh workforce.
Forty interviews conducted across Wales concluded that more work must be undertaken by the Welsh Assembly Government to bring supply and demand together. The Assembly is unlikely to achieve its policy objectives of greener and more carbon neutral technologies, and ultimately reduce Wales’ carbon footprint, without a more structured and systematic approach to the microgeneration issues.
The biggest single issue facing a company wishing to move into the microgeneration market is the lack of trained staff. The report reveals there is only one major provider of microgeneration technology training in Wales. Most training is coming from England, and significant investment is needed to train the trainers within the Further Education Colleges (FEC) and private training provider areas.
The report found that 68% of the companies needed training in microgeneration, 73% identified a skills gap in microgeneration installation skills, and 68% found it difficult to recruit staff with the relevant skills in microgeneration.
Kathryn Hopkins-Morgan, SummitSkills’ Operations Manager in Wales, said: “The report was supported and led by employers. If you don’t invest in training and qualifications, you will be forever importing skills from elsewhere. The amount of training provision Wales had was minimal when the report started but there has been an awakening of the requirements and the need. Initiatives are now in place to stimulate employers and kick-start the operators in Wales to further develop it across FHE networks and use the technology to its full capacity.”
Kathryn concluded: “Every time we have a technology jump we have a basic skills issue. If more is not done it will leave Wales in a vulnerable position, as there is a very well established market in Europe and people will come from outside the country to do the work. Government targets have to be met. It’s all right jumping on the green bandwagon but not if there is no one who knows how to do it.”