Monday, 2 June 2014

Training voucher scheme to help cross-skill heating engineers to renewable heating systems

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced a £650,000 fund aimed at expanding the skill set of domestic heating engineers to include the installation and maintenance of renewable heating systems. 

Many of the people installing renewable heat technologies today come from the heating and plumbing sectors and most of the experience is related to oil, gas and LPG systems.

Whilst most conventional renewable technologies are based on familiar electrical, mechanical and hydraulic principles, renewable technologies bring with them a range of additional technical considerations that may not have been encountered during conventional oil, gas or LPG projects.  

Biomass heating, for example, is a proven and reliable technology, but a lack of installation experience can lead to technical difficulties, additional costs and sub-optimal performance.  For example, poorly designed fuel stores can lead to fuel degradation and high fuel delivery costs.

Giving consumers and installers reliable information is an important part of helping them make decisions about their heating system. With the launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive it is important to ensure that consumers have a range of installers to consult, and that these installers are trained to the very latest standards.

The two main areas of support are as follows:

Short course vouchers for existing heating installers

  • The short course vouchers are aimed at existing plumbing and heating engineers in order to encourage them to undertake training in renewable heating technologies.
  • This part of the scheme will deliver vouchers worth 75% of the cost of the training and assessment, up to a maximum of £500 per voucher (including VAT).
  • A maximum of ten vouchers per company will be available. To be eligible the company must be a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Vouchers will be available for:

  • Solar thermal
  • Heat pumps (both air source and ground source)
  • Biomass
  • For solar thermal and heat pump training courses to be eligible, the training must include a QCF assessment that leads to a qualification that is accredited by an awarding organisation. 

Apprenticeship support vouchers

  • The apprenticeship support scheme will support those nearing the end of their plumbing/heating apprenticeship to become skilled with one or more renewable technologies.
  • The apprenticeship support vouchers are worth up to £2,500(including VAT).
  • A maximum of ten vouchers per company will be available. To be eligible the company must be a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME).
  • If an apprentice has already chosen to take the “renewable technology” pathway, they can apply to extend the number of technologies within that pathway and use the funding to support that training.
  • If an apprentice has already selected a non-renewable pathway such as oil or gas, they can still apply and use the funding to take one or more of the QCF units in the renewable technology pathway.

Eligible training includes:

  • Understand the fundamental principles and requirements of environmental technology systems
  • Solar thermal (installation & service and maintenance)
  • Heat pump (installation & service and maintenance)
  • Biomass [solid fuel] (installation & service and maintenance)
  • In addition applications can be made from apprentices to support them in other ways, such as the provision of learning materials and, if required, assistance to enable them to access work types that they may require to complete their apprenticeship programme.

Full details can be found here.

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