City Plumbing survey shows ‘urgent’ need to address heat pump skills gap

City Plumbing survey shows ‘urgent’ need to address heat pump skills gap

City Plumbing says that its latest research “lays bare” the UK’s heat pump skills gap with only 18% of installers currently installing them and 44% not knowing where to go for training.

Commissioned by Energy Efficiency at City Plumbing, and conducted by Censuswide, the survey polled installers about their current knowledge of renewable technologies in the heating market and whether they planned to become certified to install them.

The results show there is significant work to provide installers with all the information they require about the topic, inspire them to seek training, and address their concerns.

The government has a target for 600,000 heat pumps to be installed per year by 2028 in a bid to achieve national Net Zero targets. However, last year the figure was between 60,000 and 70,000 – and installers need more information on how to get involved.

The survey revealed:

44% of installers don’t know where to go to get trained and only 27% say it’s easy to find a course near where they live

Just 18% of installers currently install heat pumps and only 6% are MCS certified

32% of installers are unaware of the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme in England and Wales (which offers discounts for homeowners switching to a heat pump if they use a certified installer)

Only 45% of installers say they are confident they know enough about heat pumps to explain their benefits to customers

Adam Foy, Managing Director of Energy Efficiency at City Plumbing, said: “This is a significant issue for everyone if we want to achieve net zero targets and it is one that we should be talking about urgently. As an industry we need to make training more accessible. We should be there for installers who are interested in upskilling and encouraging others that doing so will be good for their business.

“The underlying interest is there. Our survey also revealed that 49% of installers would consider becoming MCS certified if there was a course available locally. Moreover, when we asked installers if becoming certified would be good for their careers, 82% agreed.”

He added: “It’s not possible to achieve government targets without trained installers, so now is the time to act.”

Energy Efficiency at City Plumbing says it has started the ball rolling by launching its first Energy Efficiency Centre, in Farnborough, Hampshire, where installers can go for training. This follows the announcement of a new partnership with GTEC Training.

However, it contends that the entire industry will need to work together to achieve national goals.

Heating in UK homes produces as much as 17% of the country’s greenhouse emissions according to the Climate Change Committee, and Adam continued: “We need installers to be ambassadors for renewable technologies, especially in the domestic market where many homeowners are yet to be convinced, so education and effective communication is vital.

“Ultimately, Net Zero targets are going to be difficult to achieve without the right number of trained installers.”

Current numbers of MCS certified installers are around the 1,500 mark – but the Heat Pump Association estimates 30,000 will be needed in the long term.

The survey also revealed:

53% of installers say customers are increasingly interested in finding out about heat pumps

76% agree customers are more interested than a year ago.

42% expect energy efficient heating will boom by 2025

The survey fieldwork was conducted by Censuswide from a base of 350 installers from December 2022-Januray 2023.

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