Industry, colleges and stakeholders came together today to discuss the challenges of the growing skills gaps in the green and retrofit sector – and the potential solutions.
The Local London Green Jobs and Skills Partnership (a collaboration of nine FE colleges, employers and local authorities and led by London South East Colleges,) in partnership with Retrofit London (an award-winning collaboration between London’s 33 local authorities, led by the London Boroughs of Enfield and Waltham Forest) headed up the special event.
Retrofit is a crucial vehicle in the work being done to meet net zero targets. It involves the introduction of new materials and technologies within an existing building to improve the energy efficiency – making them easier to heat, retain heat for longer and even generate their own energy.
There are likely to be over 100,000 new and sustainable jobs in retrofit specific trades by 2030. This event brought industry and educators together to explore this opportunity, ensuring commitment and accelerated action towards a shared retrofit skills and training delivery plan for London.
Hannah Jameson from London Councils led a panel discussion, with representatives from LSEC, Business LDN and Retrofit London. Panellists provided insightful, highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaboration to increase skills provision and take up.
This was followed by several breakout events to discuss specific issues being faced – such as how we can reskill and upskill at pace to meet delivery targets and what is required to boost market confidence in this area.
Case studies were shared from Wates Group and Better Placed Partnership and longer-term solutions were considered – including ways in which Local Authorities and FE Colleges can work effectively together and how retrofit can be promoted as a profession.
Sitting on the panel discussion, Dominic Millen, Retrofit London, explained the context of the challenge the retrofit industry is facing. He said:
“The skills needed to support the retrofit revolution in London are a huge challenge with a potential ramping up from around 4,000 people in the sector now to 110,000 in 2030.
“This is being made harder as retrofitting projects are competing for labour at a time when the number of people employed in construction is decreasing. In short, there are not enough people working in the retrofit sector, with heating engineers, glazers and insulation specialists the most in demand.
“However, this is also a huge opportunity to support new entrants into the sector and make it more diverse and resilient. We can reskill people working in ‘at risk’ industries to provide career routes offering better pay and attract and retain money in the London economy as spend on retrofit grows.
Louise Wolsey, Group Chief Strategy Officer at London South East Colleges and representing the Local London Green Jobs and Skills Partnership, added:
“As a large FE College, with sites across London, we are focused on ensuring our students have access to the many exciting job opportunities that the capital has to offer them. Green skills, in particular, retrofit skills, are crucial if we are to meet our Net Zero targets – and this requires a cohesive and collaborative approach to training.
“It’s fantastic to bring together employers, colleges and Local Authorities in this way. It is clear that we have a shared purpose to tackle green skills issues and working together will help us to achieve this ambition.”
Hannah Jameson, Climate Change Programme Director at London Councils, added:
“The green economy is a crucial part of London’s future – providing high quality jobs and skills for Londoners. London Councils’ award-winning Retrofit London programme is helping the capital to build a thriving retrofit sector, but we cannot do that without the right set of in-demand skills for people in the industry.
“Today’s event brings together employers, colleges and local authorities to find the solutions we need to support the retrofit revolution.”
This event is one of a series being led by The Local London Green Jobs and Skills Partnership, which the DfE’s Strategic Development Fund funds. This is providing much-needed capital and revenue investment to develop and promote teaching and learning environments dedicated to green technologies.
For more information about this initiative, Click here
Retrofit London is one of the seven major cross-borough climate change programmes that London Councils is taking forward, which aims to achieve deep reductions in carbon emissions and demonstrate the key role that local authorities play in delivering the net zero transition. This event is a great demonstration of how these programmes look to collaborate across sectors and in this instance address significant skills gaps and constrained supply chains making the scale-up of retrofit delivery in London more difficult.