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New investment North and South in retrofit and 'green jobs'

This week the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared a 'retrofit revolution' in the Capital, announcing a new package of measures that will make buildings more energy efficient and tackle climate emergency. Led by the Mayor working with London Councils and social housing providers, the plans will boost London's Green New Deal mission and sustain and create new green jobs in the Capital.

According to the Mayor's office, London's homes and workplaces are responsible for 78% of the Capital's carbon emissions and virtually all will need some level of retrofitting over this decade. London's social housing urgently needs upgrading to be as energy efficient as possible with improvements including better insulation, low-carbon heat and clean power sources, such as solar energy, to deliver the Mayor's climate targets and tackle growing fuel poverty. London has the third highest level of fuel poverty in the country, with Barking and Dagenham having the highest of any local authority in England.

The Mayor's new Innovation Partnership will make it easier for social landlords and UK building firms to work together to upgrade ageing homes in the Capital. The scheme will link up housing providers and builders through all stages of home retrofitting, from planning through to large-scale delivery. This will increase the pace of projects that upgrade cold, damp housing stock to homes fit for the future. The partnership has the potential value of £10 billion in retrofit works, which would create around 150,000 jobs over the decade. The Innovation Partnership is open to social housing providers across the UK, with at least an estimated £5 billion that could be spent in London.

The Mayor has also been backed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for London to lead the country by creating a national retrofit centre of excellence to help assist social housing providers gain access to funding for major retrofit projects. The centre will build on the Mayor's successful Retrofit Accelerator - Homes which aims to transform the way London retrofits its ageing and energy-inefficient housing to create warm, affordable and ultra-low carbon homes. it will also directly help social housing providers develop plans to improve their chances of being successful through the next round of the £160 million Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund

As a key part of the Mayor's target of reaching net zero by 2030, he is also seizing the opportunity for more solar energy on London's rooftops. Sadiq's energy programmes alone are expected to more than double the amount of clean energy London generates from solar, but more investment is needed to ensure the Capital goes much further.

To lay these foundations, the Mayor is working with Solar Energy UK to invest in the solar workforce. A new programme - Solar Skills London - will focus on skills and training to enable Londoners to learn more about solar technologies and help to create more green jobs. Training and apprenticeships will focus on battery storage, electric vehicle charging and related smart technologies. The programme will also include a placement programme to get trainees into solar businesses and targeted grant schemes to deliver quality training to staff at around 100 solar installation companies in London.

At Future Cities Forum's energy and sustainability event in March, Mike Cooke, Managing Director for the North & Scotland, at Vital Energi, talked about the importance of supporting the creation of new jobs in the energy sector:

'We are on the threshold of an amazing amount of these new jobs and it is one of our normal key performance indicators to deliver a level of 65% of people working on projects directly from that local area, therefore contributing to that economy. We have launched a training academy in Liverpool - a community college to deliver the engineering and commercial training and jobs skilling for practical trades. It is a great opportunity with support from the government to fill in a huge void in this area.'

Vital Energi announced in April this year that 'having pledged to recruit 20 apprentices across the UK, it is proud to be joining forces with The City of Liverpool College, which will deliver the curriculum from the £2m state-of-the-art Training Academy located at Vital’s Blackburn headquarters, for two pathways: Craft and Technical.

Vital Energi says that both pathways will take apprentices on an energy journey where they will learn and work within the renewable energy and heat networks market. They will discover, it says, how energy is generated and distributed, and how to manage and reduce consumption for residential and commercial clients. Apprentices will also learn how carbon emissions are reduced through Vital’s renewable technologies and the innovative products they have developed.

The programmes, the firm states, will be delivered via a blended mix of virtual online teaching and a minimum of 25 days curriculum learning each year within the Training Academy. Apprentices will spend the majority of their time on-site working on projects, where they will pick up a wealth of skills through hands-on experience and support from Vital’s experienced and knowledgeable team.

Mike Cooke, completed an apprenticeship at The City of Liverpool College and he believes this formed a great foundation for his successful career path:

'I loved the apprentice programme at The City of Liverpool College. At 18 years old this was my first opportunity to experience independence and life in the city. My apprenticeship provided me with social, interpersonal, and technical skills which have been the platform of my career, and even though the pay was significantly less than Vital’s offer today, I’ve been able to progress through my career without being saddled with tuition fees and student loans. A real and genuine upside.

'Liverpool City Region has an ambition to reach net zero carbon by 2040 and The City of Liverpool College is focussed on developing its curriculum around the needs of industry, creating a workforce for the future by developing the skills needed to enter the world of work in sustainable careers. '

Sophie Park, Director of Workforce Skills at The City of Liverpool College, commented:

'Our partnership with Vital Energi is built on the knowledge and skills of its engineers and our innovative curriculum leaders at The City of Liverpool College. Working with progressive, exciting organisations such as Vital Energi helps us to continue to innovate and provide our students with the skills they need to enter the workforce and forge successful, sustainable careers.

“This new state of the art training centre will play an essential role in developing the skills needed to deliver our low carbon future.'

'Vital are forward-thinking, agile and strategic in the deployment of our resources,' added Mike. 'As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 creates an opportunity to support apprentice recruitment and shape the workforce of the future, enabling a journey to net zero for our customers and the UK as a whole.

'We’re really excited to be working with The City of Liverpool College to deliver our new renewable apprenticeships, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our first cohort in September.'

During the three-year Craft programme, apprentices will study for a Level 3 Building Services Engineering Craftsperson qualification. They will learn a range of key skills from pipework fabrication and jointing techniques such as electro fusion jointing, to welding, the installation of plumbing and heating systems, and more.

At the end of the Technical programme, apprentices will achieve a Level 3 Building Services Design Technician qualification, after developing their understanding of building services design principles. As well as using project management systems to ensure timeframes and budgets are adhered to, apprentices will work alongside the commercial team to understand contractual agreements and review the financial performance of a project, produce technical reports, plus more.

Vital Energi are working on nationwide projects and are looking to recruit apprentices from all over the UK. The curriculum learning will take place in the North West, so depending on your location, this may require residential attendance which will be funded by the company.

Future Cities Forum will be talking about the planning and sustainability of our science cities in the UK on 24th June.


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