Lancashire heating firm supports training scheme for greener technology

A Lancashire heating manufacturer is backing a new scheme to train the next generation of low carbon technology engineers.

By Tim Gavell
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 4:55 am

Baxi Heating, which makes heating and hot water solutions from its site in Bamber Bridge, is working with Preston College to train heating engineers on how to install and maintain air source heat pumps as part of the Strategic Development Fund Pilot being run by The Lancashire Colleges.

The training is part of the Constructing Low Carbon Lancashire project - one of seven projects under the SDF Pilot - to increase the skillset of construction related businesses and workers across Lancashire, so they can benefit from the move to low carbon technologies and production methods.

Air source heat pumps have been identified by the government as vital to reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and the plan is to install 600,000 a year by 2028.

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A Baxi engineer with air source heat pump

However, while air source heat pumps can lower heating bills and cut carbon emissions in the home, a lack of professionally trained installers means the average cost to fit one in Lancashire can still be as high as £10,000.

As a result of the scheme, Preston College has expanded its training facilities, as well as buying air source heat pumps for training across the county, available to all heating businesses and installers across the area.

Steve Owen, National Training Manager at Baxi, said: “Having such high-quality facilities and technology at Preston College allows us to ensure that heating engineers can train and qualify on the best equipment, which will prepare them for the future challenges and opportunities in the heating industry, as we move towards a net zero carbon future.

“It is imperative that we increase the number of accredited heat pump installers as today’s MCS registered operatives will not be able to cope with the expected growth in demand without support like this.”

The college is also working to create apprenticeships and training programmes on installing low carbon, environmentally friendly heating systems, with a view to helping more young people to find work in the industry.

A recent study found that over half of gas engineers were over 50. If we are to meet the UK government’s target for installing heat pumps, 50,000 new heat pump installers need to be trained to fill the skills gap.

Mick Noblett, Vice Principal at Preston College, said: “The SDF allows us to purchase modern air source heat pumps to ensure that installers can practice and qualify on the latest equipment, while the construction of our building skills zone will allow companies from across Lancashire to benefit from low carbon skills to make sure that they are prepared for the future.

“This investment in skills will also benefit young people here in Lancashire, creating opportunities for them to train on the best equipment so they can find permanent, high-quality work that allows them to stay in Lancashire and thrive.”

The Constructing Low Carbon Lancashire project is being led by Preston College, alongside partner colleges across the county including: Blackburn College, Blackpool & The Fylde College, Burnley College, Lancaster & Morecambe College, Nelson & Colne College Group, Runshaw College, West Lancashire College.

The £8.4m SDF pilot aims to meet the needs of the low to zero carbon economy of the future through a programme delivered by the county’s colleges.

Employers can find out more details about how the programme can work to meet their own specific business needs at www.tlc.ac.uk/sdf.

The trailblazing pilot is one of the biggest of its kind in England, part of the Government’s Skills Accelerator Programme which also sees the North and Western Chamber of Commerce and the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce leading the Local Skills Improvement Plan to create a joined-up skills strategy that will help the county become a leading region for zero-low carbon technologies.

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