The Low Carbon Academy (LCA) provide training to upskill workers in the construction industry so that they can carry out green home improvements to make houses more energy efficient and reduce household bills.
Their Retrofit Skills Hub, launched in September 2021, provides people who live or work in Greater Manchester with the green skills and a range of qualifications needed to retrofit homes and carry out other energy efficiency services.
This innovative alliance, which is forecast to upskill 1,140 people over two years, offers a concrete solution to fill the current job gaps affecting the installation rates for retrofit upgrades across the country.
This means that the housing stock in Greater Manchester can be upgraded faster, reducing carbon emissions and the impact of energy price rises.
The hub, commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), is delivered online and face to face, in partnership with local colleges.
Interactive advice sessions provide college tutors with the opportunity to share knowledge on incorporating energy efficiency into their training programmes. This offers a solution to gaps in tutor-based skills training currently blocking the expansion of retrofit training in the further education sector.
Improving living conditions
Furthermore, this will allow for a faster rollout of local authority retrofit projects amongst social housing, improving living conditions for the most vulnerable.
There are courses available on insulation, domestic retrofit, solar panel and heat pump installation, amongst others.
Joe Crolla, Industry Skills Intelligence Lead, GMCA, says that the authority has identified the green economy and decarbonising transport and housing as key focus areas.
He said: “Working with CLA has been eye-opening because they have identified what skills trainees need and how these can make them more employable. Their relationship with colleges has proved instrumental in allowing broader engagement levels.”
Recruitment onto courses happens through marketing campaigns, both digitally through social media, as well as e-marketing and word of mouth.
LCA staff are improving and adapting the skills agenda by taking up key roles on multiple retrofit task forces and steering groups. The senior management team review their entire skills training catalogue every six months, consulting trainers, assessors and learners so the courses are up to date and relevant for employees in the low carbon sector.
Bootcamps for jobs
They work with the unemployed, delivering skills training through a series of bootcamps in areas of high deprivation, in partnership with Procure Plus who work with communities, local homeless charities and job centres to engage potential trainees.
These include two weeks of skills training on construction within a workshop setting, targeted at those currently outside the jobs market. Training content was devised following consultation with employers on specific retrofit skills identified as a priority to boost job prospects. All attendees are guaranteed a job interview with a construction provider delivering retrofit projects.
And by working with recruitment firms, such as Checkatrade and Trade Up, they can reach more construction workers. They match potential trainees with the most appropriate courses through a ‘skills scan’. LCA also provides learning support for trainees struggling to complete their courses and those with personal and mental health issues.
Kate Parker, is senior regeneration manager at Procure Plus who have extensive networks within local communities to reach potential trainees and create jobs through their procurement contracts with local authorities.
She said: “The Low Carbon Academy are amazing at what they do and we have a successful partnership through which they manage the actual skills training.
“We’ve found that they go above and beyond in their flexibility to work with learners and keep them engaged on training courses, adapting their approach to meet the specific needs of the individual.”
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