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Seven in 10 M&E firms lack ‘low carbon’ workers

10 September 2020

Seven in ten building services businesses do not have enough competent employees to undertake ‘low to no carbon’ work.

That’s according to an industry-wide ‘skills for climate’ survey by the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and other building services trade organisations.

Some 39% of businesses said they believe they can hire more competent employees to meet the current demand, while 19% do not believe such a step is possible. 11% do not know whether they have enough competent employees at present.

In terms of particular technologies facing a shortfall of workers, solar PV, heat pumps, energy storage systems and smart buildings were cited by many businesses as being the most problematic.

If demand were to increase ‘substantially’ over the next two years, just 10% of businesses said they would have enough competent employees. One in four respondents (25%) said they would ‘struggle’ to meet this increase in demand.

ECA director of skills and employment Andrew Eldred said: “Our industry consultation highlights the growing scale of the skills challenge in the low carbon arena, which comes on top of broader skills shortages in many engineering and skilled trades.

“Engineering services businesses, most of which are SMEs, are key to the delivery of low carbon technologies. There is an urgent need for government and industry to work more effectively together to build the skills-base that will be required.”

Almost half of the respondents (48%) said that there was a lack of ‘sufficient industry training’ for those involved in low carbon work.

But many businesses said that they would be willing to consider hiring individuals who have previously worked in traditional energy sectors, such as oil and gas. Almost two-thirds (65%) said they would hire from the fossil fuels industry, and just 9% said no, while 26% were unsure.

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