SJIB joins other bodies to build low-carbon future

The Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) is among five leading construction bodies who have united to launch an industry-wide initiative to upskill the workforce and help meet UK net zero targets. 

Working under the umbrella of the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS), the SJIB has joined forces with the following organisations to help meet the expected rise in demand for renewables technology:

  • The Joint Industry Board (JIB)
  • The Scottish Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board (SNIJIB) 
  • The Joint Industry Board for Plumbing, Mechanical and Engineering Services (JIB-PMES)
  • The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)

The five CSCS Partner Schemes – which represent more than 300,000 operatives across the heating and ventilation, mechanical and electrotechnical sectors – will now work together to recognise and endorse their workforces’ green qualifications, skills and experience. 

By doing so, they aim to help achieve the net zero target dates of 2050 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 2045 for Scotland.

Discussions have taken place to agree a roadmap, including solutions for multi-occupation projects such as heat pump installation and maintenance, which cross boundaries between heating and ventilation, electrical and mechanical disciplines. 

In addition, the bodies have agreed that:

  • Qualifications and endorsements for heat pumps may be recognised under each body’s scheme. It will be dependent on the training route into the industry, apprenticeship or occupation for the individual and likely the skilled card already held as to their ‘base’ qualifications as to which will be most appropriate.

  • Heat pump upskilling is an extra, necessary endorsement for the schemes, e.g., in addition to VQ plumbing, heating and ventilation or electrical installation. This will be displayed on each card where individuals have obtained the relevant qualifications or standard for each scheme to readily identify these skills. 

  • The refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump engineering apprenticeship standard will also be recognised for air-to-air heat pump applications as a relevant entry route for this occupation. 

The groups say this understanding addresses the need for industry-recognised qualifications for qualified and competent personnel, and will prevent a “race to the bottom” for training and standards in an increasingly important part of the shared sector. 

They also say it will help to meet the expected surge in demand for low-carbon transport and energy efficient storage and heating, including the 600,000 heat pumps required every year by 2028, according to the UK Government’s Green Plan. 

Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB, said: “It is becoming clearer with each passing day that the rapidly changing world requires properly trained and qualified professionals to support the transition to net zero carbon. This is essential for improved safety and better consumer confidence and this work will ensure the necessary skills are recognised in each of the partner schemes.” 

Andy Reakes, Head of Growth at the JIB, explained: “Maintaining industry standards in this vital area is key and the five partner schemes are unified in recognising the need to be appropriately qualified, and that personnel have undertaken the necessary additional upskilling and training to the requirements of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.

Kevan Holmes, General Manager at JIB-PMES, added: “In line with UK Government policy there is an urgent need to upskill the existing workforce and encourage people down the correct training and career paths for these occupational roles.”

Rachel Davidson, Director of Certification at BESA, said: “One of the biggest barriers to adoption of heat pump technology is the lack of suitably qualified installers. It is important installations meet a high technical standard and that engineers fully understand the technology.”

Stephanie Lowe, Secretary of the SNIJIB, concluded: “The direction of travel is clearly towards low-carbon technologies and we have been working to encourage employers to enhance their workforce capability to play their part in creating a new environment of sustainable energy.”