Renewable energy skills event a success, more to be held

Organisers of the "Closing the Renewable Energy Skills Gap" event held earlier this month have reported that the workshop proved to be “very well attended, interesting and useful". The event, which aimed to identify where potential skills gaps lie in the UK’s renewable energy industry and how they can be filled, attracted around 80 participants.

The event organisers, Skills2Learn, recognised some time ago that a growing skills gap exists in the renewable energy sector in the UK as demand from the public increases. As a result, the company decided to make readily accessible and reasonably priced learning resources to support tutors as well as for use by independent learners and professionals wishing to upskill themselves. Three titles are already available covering an Introduction to Renewable Energies, Solar Thermal, and Heat Pumps, while a course on Solar PV is in development and additional titles, including one on Wind Turbines, will be published over the coming months.

“During the course of production, our subject matter experts and consortium members agreed that an event to focus on this issue would be valuable,” explains Sue Gibbs, Head of Business Development at Skills2Learn, which led to the event organised and sponsored by Skills2Learn and the "elearning-shop" held in London on 18 November.

Closing the Renewable Energy Skills Gap brought together people from all over the UK involved in education and training provision, as well as government officials and representative from the renewable energies industry to share vital information about the UK government's renewable energy agenda and how the targets and aspirations will be addressed. “It was a really good event,” says Sue Gibbs. “About 80 people attended from all over and we had plenty of positive feedback”.

Attendees were given presentations by a number of speakers from SummitSkills (the UK’s Sector Skills Council for building services engineering ), EU Skills (the UK’s Sector Skills Council for the gas, power, waste management and water industries), the UK’s Solar Trade Association and Ground Source Heat Pumps Association, The College of North West London, and the built environment consultancy firm, BRE, who provided up to the minute information on skills requirements, available training, accreditation and current qualifications.

Nigel Hollett, Head of Environmental Technologies at SummitSkills, kicked off with a presentation on identifying the skills gap and an update on the QCF Awards and the National Skills Academy. Mike Carty (Skills Director, EUSkills) looked at workforce planning model development with a focus on sustainability and apprentices for the waste sector, while Kate Symons (Director of Refurbishment and Regeneration, BRE) talked about bringing manufacturers skills and learning on a single national platform to the CoRE project.

Further presentations where given by David Matthews (Chief Executive, Solar Trade Association and Ground Source Heat Pumps Association), who provided an overview of the skills requirements in the renewables industry; and Dr Majid Al-Kader (Managing Director, Skills2Learn) who looked at some of the latest renewable energy learning materials using 3D and virtual reality technology.

Thanks to the success of the event, Sue Gibbs reveals that Skills2Learn is considering holding another similar event in March or April next year, probably in the north of England.

Later this week, Renewable Energy Magazine will be publishing an interview with Nigel Hollett on the latest research his organisation has published (Potential Training Demand in Environmental Technologies in Building Services Engineering: Stage 1): the first of a set of three reports analysing trends in the sector’s engagement with renewables and the potential impact of these trends on training demands across the UK. Nigel will also discuss how the UK must react to ensure its labour market can plug the emerging skills gap in the renewable energy industry before it has a negative effect on productivity.

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