Education – investing in the future

A new course designed to develop the skills needed to design, install and commission low carbon heating technologies will be on offer from the Windsor Forest Colleges Group from September 2025.

“The UK has big plans to scale up energy efficiency and move away from fossil fuel heating, and to do this a high-skilled workforce is needed,” says Emma Raymond, head of business development at the group of further education colleges in Berkshire and Surrey.

“Worryingly, the number of plumbing and heating engineers is not increasing at the rate needed. There have been several initiatives aimed at increasing the number of trained heating installers, such as bolt-on short courses in renewables, in addition to the apprenticeship, which has been created with input from a trailblazer group of heat pump installers, which will help to train and upskill the sector.”

What’s covered?

The broad purpose of the occupational standard is to plan, select and size, install, commission, service and maintain (including fault finding, diagnosis and repair) zero-carbon central heating and hot water systems in buildings including dwellings and industrial and commercial premises. Zero-carbon heat sources may include, but are not limited to, ground and air source heat pumps and solar thermal collectors.

The occupational standard includes work on both new-build and existing properties and typically involves the installation, service, fault finding and repair of zero carbon heating and hot water appliances, storage vessels, pipework, heat emitters and associated components and their mechanical and electrical control systems. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with customers and end users, and as such requires a high level of customer service. The role is physical in nature and involves the manual handling of heavy equipment, working at height and in confined spaces.

“The course delivery will be both college-based – one day per week in the Green Skills Workshop – and work-based learning supported by a dedicated skills coach,” explains Raymond. “The suggested duration for the course is three years, with time allocated for an End Point Assessment. Learners with prior learning, or prior knowledge gained through time in industry, can complete the course in a shorter duration.”

The Government has an ambitious target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, and to reach this target MCS estimates that the UK will require 39,000 qualified heat pump installers. It’s therefore vital that businesses consider low carbon apprenticeships to upskill their workforce.

“Businesses in the UK will need to ensure their workforce has the right knowledge, skills and behaviours if they are to move with the times and support homeowners on how to heat and decarbonise their homes,” says Raymond. “The apprentices will graduate as Level 3 Low Carbon Heating Technicians with the latest heat pump and other low carbon technology skills needed in industry, and the ability to deliver an excellent customer experience.”

You might also like

Meet the member – David Gammage

Meet the member – David Gammage

Education - working as an FE teacher

Education - working as an FE teacher

Meet the member – Nigel Baldwin

Meet the member – Nigel Baldwin