First green skills training centre opens in the UK

First green skills training centre opens in the UK

British Gas has opened the first UK green skills training centre in partnership with the Welsh Assembly, job agencies and local authorities to train more than 1 300 people a year.

The British Gas Green Skills Training Centre in Tredegar was opened in May 2010 and will play an important role in achieving the aims of the Green Jobs Strategy for Wales, according to First Minister Carwyn Jones. This initiative was launched by the Welsh Assembly Government in July 2009 – see Box.

As well as promoting green energy, the centre will also bring welcome skills to a particularly deprived area of the UK. The Heads of the Valleys area has an extremely low employment rate of just 64% compared with 71% in the rest of Wales. It is also hoped the project will help the Welsh Assembly’s programme to improve 40 000 homes in the area.

Hands-on experience

The centre will focus on hands-on practical experience with fully-functioning heating installations in specially designed-bungalows to teach trainees about renewable and energy-efficient systems. They will be taught the skills needed to become energy-efficiency assessors and installers of new technologies including micro-generation technologies, solar photovoltaic panels, high-technology smart meters, biomass boilers and combined heat and power boilers and solar thermal panels.

“We want to help equip local people with the skills to deliver emerging technologies in the communities in which they live,” explains Gearóid Lane, managing director for communities and new energy at British Gas. The centre will also provide opportunities for current British Gas engineers to increase their skills. British Gas is investing heavily in this sector through the creation of thousands of smart meter and insulation engineer jobs.

Keith Marshall, chief executive of SummitSkills, said future employment in the emerging green economy depends on being able to access training that will allow people to develop the skills that will be required. “The Green Skills Training Centre will play a key role in ensuring that this capability is developed. As a direct result, energy suppliers will be able to be more positive in promoting the green agenda to consumers and acting as trailblazers for green skills.”

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