13.1 There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn from the research and the first is that although schemes such as CERT and SHQS have been operating for a number of years, there is still a significant amount of work to do to improve energy efficiency and microgeneration across the built environment for housing and non-housing. There is still scope for schemes to make a positive impact on meeting future energy reduction targets, especially as energy efficiency and microgeneration uptake is still at a formative stage for Scotland and the rest of the UK. Initiatives such as FIT, RHI and Green Deal will stimulate demand in the coming years whilst Scottish Building Standards and Scottish/ UK Government policy will provide the legislative push, and actions taken over the next few years will set the context for future work.
13.2 The scale of the task and the opportunity presented by work to improve energy efficiency of both housing and non-housing buildings is significant, and this will inevitably require a suitably skilled and experienced workforce to achieve it. The employment projections within the research show that there are occupations such as energy advisors; electricians, plumbers, heating engineers, ventilation and air conditioning specialists, and building insulation installers who will be essential for the work, therefore it is possible to identify critical occupations. Although there is some uncertainty around the pace of uptake for future energy efficiency measures across the built environment, it is evident that certain occupations will be influenced more than others and that skills will be required, largely by the existing workforce.
13.3 In setting out the EEAP, the Scottish Government is laying the foundations for future action, however there will be a need to revise and update the assumptions on which future employment projections have been made. Similar work carried out for the Welsh Assembly Government and work currently underway within DECC highlights that this same issue exists across the UK. It remains challenging to develop projections when the exact nature of energy efficiency uptake is far from certain and the conclusion here is that further work will be required to develop and quantify future projections using a methodology that is clear and transparent.
13.4 Energy advisors and energy assessors will be heavily involved in the initial advice and guidance, as well as providing energy performance certificates, with these occupations under the remit of Asset Skills. Energy assessors are an established occupation with clear qualifications, accreditation and competence requirements, although different implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in Scotland give rise to some differences within the UK. For energy advisors, Asset Skills is currently developing both the qualifications for Scotland, in conjunction with SQA, and the accreditation/competence requirements with stakeholders.
13.5 Each SSC has a clearly defined set of National Occupational Standards for each identified occupation. This provides the basis from which qualifications are derived, and there are a series of qualifications already in existence that broadly cover skills over the range of energy efficiency and microgeneration technology occupations. All SSCs are looking to address gaps which have been identified and then address this as a matter of urgency through the development of new, and amendments to existing, qualifications.
13.6 Insulation installers (loft, cavity and solid wall) will be required, especially for the retrofitting of existing housing stock to improve energy performance, and these occupations are the remit of ConstructionSkills. Although loft and cavity wall insulation have been available for numerous years, there are still a significant number of houses that can benefit from these measures, and this type of insulation will play a significant part in energy efficiency improvements. Both loft and cavity wall insulation are cost effective, with minimal disruption in terms of work carried out, however there will be a point when further insulation and/or other measures have to be used alongside them to give improved energy efficiency. Solid wall insulation will become increasingly important, especially for homes that are not suitable for cavity wall insulation, and there will be a significant increase in demand for this type of insulation work. The conclusion here is that further work is required to develop and ensure that formal qualifications are in place to support this occupation, something that ConstructionSkills is starting to work on in partnership with relevant trade federations such as INCA and NIA. ConstructionSkills will continue to review and update solid wall qualifications in light of the expected increase in demand.
13.7 Electrical; plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning occupations will be some of the main beneficiaries from the installation of microgeneration measures that are forecasted to take place in coming years. These occupations are within the remit of SummitSkills. In addition to carrying out core tasks associated with each occupation, 'topping up' core skills with appropriate microgeneration skills will allow workers to work across the range of energy efficiency and microgeneration measures that will be installed, from ground source heat pumps through to solar hot water and photovoltaic systems. SummitSkills has been working on, and will continue to work towards the development of qualifications and standards that support microgeneration installation. The main conclusion here is that microgeneration technology skills are top-up skills required by a significant proportion of the existing workforce, however core skills will still be required to carry out the work.
13.8 In addition to the specific installation and advice skills, there is a need for improved general awareness of energy efficiency and microgeneration across the built environment. This applies to all occupations involved in the built environment, from planning and designers, through to site specific trades, and the final clients who will live or work within the building. The reduction of carbon emissions across the built environment will impact all involved, from those that will build the fabric through to those that will operate it throughout its life, and this applied to all sectors of work, from new housing through to repair and maintenance. Low carbon, energy efficient buildings will become the norm for the built environment, especially with increasingly stringent emissions reductions targets.
13.9 The use of recognised accreditation schemes to guarantee competence of work will be an important aspect in shaping the demand for skills and training. This will be heavily influenced by decisions that will be made around the Green Deal and here there needs to be greater clarity and understanding of the role that accreditation will play going forward.
13.10 Employment across the built environment, will be influenced by workload, as is the case in most industries. In light of the challenging economic climate and public sector cuts, and with forecasts for the next five years indicating tough conditions, work related to energy efficiency and microgeneration is set to be a key contributor to future growth as the UK and Scotland looks to meet climate change targets.
13.11 Whilst energy efficiency and microgeneration work is set to show employment growth opportunities, the built environment over the next few years will still be coming to terms with falling employment and reduced confidence. At the moment, especially for small to medium sized companies, the focus is on surviving the economic downturn and remaining competitive .
13.12 In developing the employment projections for the report current and emerging details that are available from bodies such as CERT, FITs, material from BRE, Energy Saving Trust, EEPH and each contributing SSC have been accessed. However, as earlier work established, there is still a range of material with differing employment estimates upon which to make judgements on future employment.. A conclusion here would be a fuller identification of the range of material that currently exists, then developing a clear and cohesive way that develops insights as to the future uptake of energy efficiency and microgeneration. The demand led aspects will inevitably mean assumptions having to be made, however developing current data will act as a better base to inform future scenarios.
13.13 The current gap is therefore one of knowledge and intelligence about energy efficiency and microgeneration, in relation to how this links to employment and also how influence future policy decisions. It is worth noting that to some extent this gap will often occur with emerging issues, as individuals seek to understand them in more detail. However BESA Scotland would provide a useful starting point in providing a co-ordinated view of how to address these knowledge gaps.