The Low Carbon Apprenticeship is a miss-step says Mark Krull

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  Posted by: electime      16th May 2024

Mark Krull, Director for Logic4training and LCL Awards, criticises the recently launched ‘Low Carbon Apprenticeships’ as a PR exercise that ignores the needs and opportunities in the building services sector.

As a long-time member of Greenpeace and Director of the UK’s leading Awarding Organisation for renewable qualifications you might be surprised that I’m not a big fan of the new ‘Low Carbon

Apprenticeship’. While there is no doubt that we need more installers with the skills to fit heat pumps and other renewable technologies (and more new entrants to the sector in general), the UK is a long way off from becoming fossil fuel free. Most homes are still heated by gas, and this is not going to change anytime soon.

In fact, by offering this route to young people keen to forge a career in our exciting a varied sector, we are doing them a disservice and limiting their options. Making apprentices choose between traditional or low carbon routes is the wrong approach for all concerned.

At the UK’s current stage in its path to Net Zero we need multi-skilled installers, that can install heat pumps and, for a short time at least, new gas boilers. Once no longer installed, there will still be servicing and maintenance requirements for the millions of gas boilers that will be in use for 20 – 30 years to come. These multi-skilled installers will also be kept busy removing and decommissioning gas appliances from properties making the switch the heat pumps and other low carbon technologies. Only knowing about renewables is extremely limiting.

I imagine a Low Carbon Apprenticeship is more appealing to the younger generation, it sounds progressive, eco conscious and on the face of it, better for the world at large than choosing the plumbing and gas route. What we need, however, is a ‘Heating Apprenticeship’ that offers multi-technology pathways, with plumbing and gas at its core alongside heat pumps, biomass and/or solar thermal options.

At the moment, gas apprentices can of course go on to add heat pumps (something we will championing at Logic4training with the launch of our own apprenticeships later this year), what would be better is if the low carbon arm of our industry was explicitly included from the beginning.

Polarising the installer-base does our sector no favours

Its time we stopped polarising our sector and served the building services landscape as it currently stands. Consumers need installers trained to understand their heating requirements now and in the future; they’re looking for guidance on what’s best for their individual circumstance – only someone with a good understanding of the different options available can provide this guidance suitably.

The role of the installer should not be underestimated in the path to Net Zero. We have a real opportunity with our young apprentices to create installers that meet the UK’s current and future needs. The Low Carbon Apprenticeship is far too narrow a view.