Training to deliver renewable business opportunities

Published:  06 July, 2011

SummitSkills, training, renewble energy
Solar photo-voltaic technology, such as this photo-voltaic farm, is one of a host of renewable-energy technologies covered by the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies.

Benefiting from the business opportunities provided by renewable energy demands that the skills of engineers are up to standard — a need meet by the setting up of the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies, as explained by Cathryn Hickey.

Non-domestic ‘green’ heating projects have been given a boost with the launch of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), with customers in this sector benefiting from the cash-back scheme straight away. This is great news for larger-scale heating engineers but highlights a growing need for standardisation in training to ensure equipment works properly and safety measures are met. End-users will be more aware than ever of their potential savings, and if a system is badly installed, its efficiency will be compromised.

Answering this need is the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies — a new, nationwide network of accredited training provision for low carbon and renewable skills.

Commercial M&E installers already undergo rigorous training. However, until recently, training has mainly focused on traditional building-services engineering technologies. Unlike the domestic arm of the Renewable Heat Incentive, engineers for non-domestic heating projects over 45 kW do not require accreditation under the Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS) — but it is still vital that they undertake the proper training. The reputation of renewable-energy technologies, scope for growth and long-term take-up relies on end-users having a good experience, so building-services engineers have a big part to play in promoting and moving towards a low-carbon Britain.

While training in environmental technologies has been available for many years, but with little standardisation, choosing reputable providers has sometimes been difficult. Prior to the launch of the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies, installers ran the risk of attending courses that were not industry-recognised and delivered insufficient levels of practical competence. With moves to dramatically cut the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels firmly in place, there is no room for unskilled engineers; getting the right knowledge is more important than ever before.

The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies consists of 14 accredited hub colleges located nationwide. They work with 80 training providers to ensure renewables qualifications meet the requirements of current and future legislation. Installers and engineers using the Skills Academy will receive the highest quality training, delivered by providers with state-of-the-art green facilities and taught by tutors with the most up-to-date knowledge.

Unparalleled in its offering, the academy sets a new quality benchmark and provides a single point of contact for renewables training and qualifications. With the network structure of the academy, employers can have peace of mind that their employees are gaining accredited, industry-recognised renewable skills closer to their business.

Established by SummitSkills, the Skills Academy is at the heart of the sector’s drive to promote a low carbon workforce. SummitSkills has worked closely with employers to ensure the academy meets their needs and will regularly engage with the industry so it can continue to set and maintain high standards in environmental technology training.

SummitSkills, training, renewble energy

Via the Skills Academy, those with existing competence in building services engineering will be able to access NVQ Level 3 training in a range of environmental technology courses — including solar thermal, heat pumps, solar photo-voltaics and rainwater harvesting, with micro-CHP, micro-wind, micro-hydro and biofuels (including biomass) available later in the year.

For building-services engineers and technicians specifically, it is also important they understand the principles and relevant applications for each environmental technology to ensure clients are being advised and specified the best systems for their buildings. A Level 3 qualification in understanding the principles and requirements of environmental technology systems is embedded into all the awards, but can also be taken as a stand-alone unit — ideal for managers and non-technical staff.

All qualifications available via the Skills Academy lead to an award within the Qualifications & Curriculum Framework structure and have been designed against National Occupational Standards.

As well as accessing individual courses, companies will be given the opportunity to become members of the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technology. Becoming a member is the perfect way to demonstrate a commitment to a low-carbon workforce, while also gaining some valuable benefits such as training vouchers for use against courses in environmental technologies, access to regional steering groups, bespoke Skills Academy products and services — plus opportunities to partner with the academy for funding bids.

Cutting corners when it comes to training is a false economy, one which will be damaging to your business and, on a wider-scale, damaging to the on-going success of environmental technologies. The building-services engineering sector has a responsibility and interest in pushing forward the green agenda — helping to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and create a much-needed injection of business activity.

For more information about the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies and to find your nearest centre, visit the website below.

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