A trailblazing green energy college has this month thrown open its doors. It is aiming to deliver 'oven-ready' technicians capable of tackling the looming shortage of skilled contractors trained to install small-scale solar panels and heat pumps.
The Green Energy Training Centre (GETC) was officially opened last week at the premises of renewables manufacturer Stiebel Eltron in Wirral International Business Park, Merseyside.
The company said the £280,000 facility has been equipped with more than £60,000 worth of the latest renewable energy technology, and could be the first in a wave of new national microgeneration training centres.
Students will be able to enrol from the end of this month on courses that will teach them how to install ground source and air source heat pumps and solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.
Once they have completed the solar PV course, graduates will be eligible to apply for the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MSC), giving them the certification they need to install renewable energy systems that qualify for the UK's Feed-In Tariff incentive scheme.
BPEC-accredited courses will also be on offer to plumbers, electricians, and heating and ventilation specialists wanting to improve their green energy skills.
Mandi O'Shea, managing director of training provider Scientiam, urged installers to sign up for the week-long practical courses and help fill the skills gap that is expected to be created as a result of new national and European Union regulations.
"With strict building standards and European carbon reduction regulations it is essential to create a generation of renewable energy installation specialists," she said. "It is so vital that we train up installers now to meet the future demand for renewable energy systems in new builds."
Commenting on the course structure, she said: "All the partners wanted the GETC to be much more than a class or lecture room. To fulfil its purposes of delivering 'oven-ready' installers who can go straight into the market, it was essential that this was a hands-on programme."
The project is a partnership between Stiebel Eltron, Scientiam and the Skills Funding Agency.
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