Rishi Sunak with installer Darren Jones, of Jones Plumbing & Heating, testing a solar thermal system to make sure it can work all year round
At the end of last year, GTEC won a bid to provide heavily discounted training and certification to individuals and companies looking to upskill into heat-based renewables, backed by The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through Midlands Energy Hub (MEH).
Named the Renewable Heat Installer Training & Support Scheme (RHITSS), the scheme offers vouchers which provide up to 70% off the cost of becoming a renewables installer. There are currently 1,000 training places and 150 businesses signed-up to RHITSS - spaces that were filled within 10 days of the schemes launch. Vouchers can be used at GTEC and also other LCL Awards and BPEC approved centres throughout the UK.
While at the centre, Mr Sunak met with candidates to find out how training was helping them and reviewed the range of renewable technologies available at GTEC including heat pumps, solar thermal with battery storage coming soon. He also chatted to other industry representatives - Awarding Organisation LCL Awards, NAPIT an installer certification body, and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), all of which GTEC has worked with to make the RHITSS scheme a success.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) gave GTEC the confidence to put together the winning bid for RHITTS, a scheme which has created jobs in the local area - at GTEC and for the installers benefitting from the new business opportunities that the training has led to.
Mr Sunak's visit coincided with confirmation from Midlands Energy Hub and BEIS that the RHITSS scheme has had its deadline extended to 30 September 2021. The extension was granted in recognition of the difficulties that some candidates have had in securing a place due to COVID-19 restrictions.
He said: 'Despite COVID-19, and with the knowledge that there is a framework of national funding support introduced by government, GTEC has really seized an opportunity and is now a key player in the UK's national strategy to achieve Net Zero.
'The RHITSS scheme has been a great success; GTEC has been able to pull together many different parts of the low carbon sector to deliver this ambitious programme very quickly. It's been great to meet a local company playing its part in such an important national cause.
Griff Thomas, managing director of GTEC, said: 'It was a pleasure to meet Rishi and see his obvious enthusiasm for a low carbon future. We discussed the need for long-term and sustainable support to give to installers the confidence to invest in career development and the green agenda. The achievements of RHITSS is an example of what can happen when industry collaborates.'
Mark Krull, director for LCL Awards, said: 'To ensure net zero is met, a long-term and well-defined plan is needed so that installers, manufacturers and training companies are able to warrant future investment. Recognised, high quality qualifications are key to this approach, and the UK has an opportunity to lead in this field.'
Michael Gallagher, regional energy project manager for MEH, said: 'We recognise the hard work invested by GTEC in delivering such a large-scale and time limited project, which not only looks to support a national low carbon economy deliver, but also the Government's longer term decarbonisation objectives.'