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Study will address net-zero skills shortage

UK: Engineering services alliance Actuate UK is working with Energy Systems Catapult, a UK energy systems innovation company, to address the net-zero skills challenge.

Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) is an independent, not for profit, centre of excellence for energy systems innovation and transformation, helping innovators and industry to decarbonise the energy system across the UK.

With the built environment responsible for more than 40% of all carbon emissions, skills shortages in key engineering professions could derail the UK’s plans for decarbonising buildings and preparing the UK for a net zero economy. 

In addition, Actuate UK recognises that the net zero challenge will require the sector to look to people with IT/digital, creative, energy systems, and AI skills, as well as more ‘traditional’ engineering. 

These are the issues to be tackled by this new strategic research project, funded by the Engineering Services Training Trust Ltd (ESTTL), with the outcomes to be shared with partner industry organisations in the umbrella body Actuate UK so the improved understanding and training innovations can benefit the whole engineering services sector. 

The research will also seek to quantify the benefits to business from having well-trained, competent people, and the business case for companies to be involved in skills development.

The Energy Systems Catapult capabilities director, Richard Halsey, said: “We’re embarking on an in-depth study of the built environment sector, aiming to take a once in a generation opportunity to produce ‘a robust strategy’ to transform the culture to encourage upskilling and unleash innovation.” 

Helen Yeulet, director of training and skills of Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), who also leads the Actuate UK Skills Group, will be working with ESC and industry stakeholders on the project. 

“To remain at the heart of the net zero discussion we must ensure we have a suitably trained workforce with a range of new skills to go with the technical and process innovations our sector has already developed,” she said.

“Employers will need to recruit from a much wider demographic than we do currently – to meet our responsibilities and take advantage of the huge business opportunities. Our work with the ESC will help to clarify what strategies and innovations we need to make progress.”

The ESC has been working on understanding the skills needed to address the transition to net zero for more than two years. It has already set in motion a process of first defining the causes of the problem and then working with stakeholders to trial potential solutions. Key considerations include securing the buy-in of stakeholders by ensuring the commercial and technical feasibility of its ideas leading to better training and recruitment outcomes.

Companies and individuals willing to support the future skills development of the industry are asked to contact the ESC by filling out this survey form.

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