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OPINION Your views from across the built environment SKILLING UP

Achieving the green agenda means having the right toolkit – which is where a new academy for environmental technologies comes in, writes Keith Marshall

With so much focus on budget deficit reduction, it’s sometimes

too easy to overlook other pressing concerns facing the UK. From the many challenges to be met over the coming years, the task of ensuring we have a sustainable, low carbon economy – along with the skills to support it – remains a defining issue. It is accepted that there need to be

alterations in how we use energy and water in our homes and commercial buildings, if we are to meet this challenge, but how? Inspiring individuals to change their approach to energy conservation provides part of the answer. The other critical part is ensuring we live in a nation with effective environmental technology infrastructures that are fit for purpose in the future low carbon age. It is an issue we cannot afford to lose sight of and, thanks to a new skills academy for the sector, we won’t. The National Skills Academy

for Environmental Technologies (NSAET) will transform the ability of businesses in the sector to meet the increased demand for the design, installation and maintenance of renewable technologies in the UK. By providing a single focal point for green skills and qualifications in the building services engineering sector, the new academy will be the route to ensure that the UK’s workforce can deliver the low carbon strategies needed for the future. As an employer-led Sector Skills

Council, we strive to further the skills of the plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilating engineers in the sector. We recognised some time ago the role these individuals would play

18 CIBSE Journal June 2011

to make sure the most appropriate environmental technologies are used in the best way for each building. It will also ensure maintenance skills are in place so renewable technologies continue to deliver full, cost-effective benefits throughout their lifespan. In addition to improving skills

in helping to reduce the use of non-renewable natural resources by driving the adoption of environmental technologies in the built environment. The new academy will support them in doing this, as well as help the sector achieve the right mix of competences required by identifying skills needs, creating qualifications standards, and ensuring suitable training provision is available. Working to meet the needs identified by employers, the new academy will equip the sector workforce with the right level of product knowledge and design skills

Delivering a mix of skills and knowledge is essential to creating long-term sustainability and wealth in the UK’s emerging low carbon economy

and training, the new academy will also focus on increasing business knowledge. The next generation of jobs in the sector will revolve around dealing with renewable technologies, so the new academy will work to ensure the sector’s workforce is aware of the business opportunities that could arise from the installation of them. It’s important to engender a spirit of entrepreneurship among businesses and their employees, so they feel comfortable embracing both new ways of working and new technology. In this way, they don’t stand still and risk business obsolescence, but continually seek to strengthen their position in the marketplace and adopt new environmental technologies as they are developed. Delivering this mix of skills and knowledge isn’t just important for the building services engineering sector; it is essential for unlocking the innovation and skills essential to creating long-term sustainability and wealth in the UK’s emerging low carbon economy. This is not only a time of challenge, it is also one of opportunity for those who can step up and take it.

l Keith Marshall OBE is chief executive of SummitSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the building services engineering sector


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