CITB-ConstructionSkills has warned that thousands of small and medium-sized construction firms are not adequately trained to take advantage of government efforts to reduce carbon.
The industry training body has called for the Energy Bill to recognise that staff need to be trained in the sector in order to be able to carry out retrofitting work.
It warned that time was “running out”. The Green Deal aims to start retrofitting 14 million homes and buildings with energy saving measures from 2012.
The Green Deal is the centrepiece of the Energy Bill, which was published in December. Under the scheme, households take out loans to make energy efficiency improvements and pay back the money through a charge on their energy bills.
The training body said there are thousands of SMEs whose workforce does not possess the right skills to take advantage of the energy-saving measures to be implemented under the Green Deal.
In his Low Carbon Construction report last year, chief construction adviser to the government Paul Morrell stated: “Delivery of a low-carbon built environment will make demands on the industry that it is currently under-equipped to meet.
“It will need new skills and an increased quantity of existing skills from conceptual thinking to operation and use, in all layers of the supply chain - all to be found at a time when the industry has been badly weakened by the fall in its workload.”
Carbon emissions from the construction and built environment sector currently account for almost half of all UK emissions.
However, research commissioned by CITB-ConstructionSkills highlighted that three in 10 building firms that will be expected to install products through the Green Deal from 2012 still have a “poor understanding” of the low carbon agenda.
FMB director of external affairs Brian Berry insisted that it wasn’t a case of the industry failing to take the low-carbon issue seriously.
He said many within the industry had expected the government to reduce VAT on energy-efficient buildings already and that the government needs to underpin the Green Deal with a range of fiscal incentives.
A spokesman for CITB-ConstructionSkills said there was a need for the government to assess the issue of proper accreditation of builders under the scheme to ensure the public are employing fully trained professionals.
Energy secretary Chris Huhne has already indicated that the government will introduce stringent rules and insurance-backed warranties to cover the work outlined in the Energy Bill.
The Federation of Master Builders, the National Specialist Contractors’ Council and CITB-ConstructionSkills are running a ‘Cut the Carbon’ campaign to raise companies’ awareness of the legislation, timelines and the new opportunities presented by the low carbon agenda.
CITB-ConstructionSkills say that although many firms are actively seeking to upskill their workers, there is a need for government to provide investment in further upskilling thousands of workers across the UK as well as engaging with the industry on best practices.