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Training to fill Britain’s micro-renewable skills gap

Rob Wellman, Development Manager at the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies, introduces the academy and explains its remit to develop skills for a low carbon future.

To help the UK become a more sustainable place, a network of renewable and low carbon training provision has been introduced to ensure installers and others involved in building services engineering have access to high-quality, industry-leading training in a location close to their business. The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies has been approved by government and is tasked with standardising training in order to fill Britain’s micro-renewable skills gap.

Installing solar thermal units (Photo courtesy Kingspan Renewables)

About the Skills Academy:

The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies comprises a network of 21 Hubs; consisting mainly of FE Colleges, with over 120 cluster members; such as specialist centres and manufacturers; which all meet stringent criteria in order to deliver some of the best renewable training currently available in the country. Established by SummitSkills, the sector skills council for Building Services Engineering, the Skills Academy is at the heart of the sector’s drive to promote a low carbon workforce.

All provision is mapped to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) to ensure training meets current and future legislation. This includes changes in-line with the requirements of the European Directive 2009/28/EC, set to be introduced later in 2012, relating to Individual Competence for the Installation of Renewable Energy Installations and the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC).

In preparation for the introduction of this legislation, all individuals undertaking training through the Skills Academy are registered on a central register of individual competence, which can be accessed by the general public.

Qualifications in renewable technologies

The Skills Academy delivers level 3 technical qualifications in the main renewable technologies, including solar thermal hot water, solar photovoltaics, grey water re-use, rainwater harvesting and heat pumps, with bio-fuels, micro-CHP, micro-wind and micro-hydro being introduced later in the year.

The qualification in ‘Understanding the Fundamental Principles and Requirements of Environmental Technology Systems’ is designed specifically to help decision makers get to grips with the types of renewable and low carbon options available. Providing candidates with valuable knowledge about environmental technology systems and their implementation in buildings and properties, the course covers details on different equipment and an overview of how they operate, how these technologies can be integrated into existing systems and how to decide which technologies may be best for a particular application. The qualification is also embedded into all the technical awards.

Guides for business

In addition to training, the Skills Academy also publishes guides designed to help businesses get-ahead in a competitive marketplace. These include guides to tendering and completing Pre-Qualifying Questionnaires (PQQs).  Apart from assisting businesses in winning work, the Skills Academy’s portfolios are also useful for organisations looking for suppliers – the information included can be used to point potential service providers towards meeting qualifying criteria.

Fitting solar energy panels

The Skills Academy has also produced an introduction to environmental technologies which can be used as a standalone document or in support of the general awareness qualification previously mentioned.  This is a good starting point for anyone interested in renewables, providing the basics of how the main environmental technologies operate and the requirements for installation.


In addition to accessing the individual courses, companies have the opportunity to become National Skills Academy for Environmental Technology members. Becoming a member is the perfect way to demonstrate a commitment to a low carbon workforce, while also gaining some valuable benefits, including training vouchers for use against environmental technologies courses, access to regional steering groups and bespoke Skills Academy products and services and opportunities to partner with the Academy for funding bids.

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