Associate feature: Skills for a sustainable future
Warmworks’ role in tackling fuel poverty extends well beyond making homes warmer and more affordable to heat; it is also to ensure that our established national supply chain is fit for purpose, now and into the future.
Alongside our supply chain of 22 local SMEs, we have been providing opportunities and jobs for over five years through the delivery of Warmer Homes Scotland, the Scottish Government’s national fuel poverty scheme.
Together, we’re committed to ensuring wider communities benefit from the scheme’s delivery and that its legacy extends well beyond the scheme’s lifetime. That includes supporting people to develop and expand their horizons through high-quality, sustainable employment and access to new skills and trades.
This work touches upon a number of areas that are crucial to ensuring that Scotland achieves its net-zero ambitions: securing a just transition, building skills for the future, removing poor energy efficiency as a driver for fuel poverty and making renewable technologies accessible for all.
Building on the 135 apprentices already engaged by our supply chain companies, in March last year, Warmworks recruited our first directly employed Electrical Apprentice under the Skills Development Scotland ‘Adopt an Apprentice’ scheme.
George Smith, now 21, says: “I didn’t know anything about renewable technologies before I started at Warmworks. It’s so different to the job I was made redundant from. I now understand how heat pumps, solar PV and storage batteries can work together. Every job is different and I’m learning all the time.”
Now in his final year, George is on track to complete his Modern Apprenticeship (SVQ) in Electrical Installation at Perth College. George has also been supported by the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust, who referred him to Warmworks, and by a number of companies in our established supply chain that have offered practical work placements and guidance.
Of course, it is vital we recognise the range of roles required in the transition to a low carbon future.
Administrative staff play just as important a part as traditional trades in the field.
Seventeen-year-old Alice Pittman, an apprentice in Business Administration at South East Heating Services Ltd, a member of Warmworks’ supply chain, represents another route to a career in the industry.
Alice, who came straight from Selkirk High School, says: “It was all brand new to me when I first came in. I didn’t know anything about biomass boilers or heat pumps. Now I can talk about things like fuel pellets with more confidence. I can give different advice to customers that I couldn’t before.”
We must be clear on the scale of the task ahead and the need to attract more people to the industry. That’s why we’re pleased to see that there are new schemes available to support people to find work; the UK Government’s Kickstart UK scheme that is for unemployed 16-24 year olds and the Scottish Government’s Scottish Young Person's Guarantee.
We are working with our supply chain to discuss how to build on these schemes to create a sustainable pipeline of young talent as we move towards net-zero.
We have the framework for success and practical examples of how this can be achieved, but we know we need to continue to upskill our workforce, provide apprenticeships, create new jobs and deliver bespoke training opportunities. This is crucial, with an estimated 79,000 workers needed by 2029 to make up the current labour and skills shortages to meet net-zero targets.
Where there is challenge, there is opportunity and now is the time to be ambitious, to be relentless and to seize the chance to make a real and lasting difference to homes, communities and a growing workforce across Scotland.
This article was sponsored by Warmworks.