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Green training could help inspire young people into construction

The Green Energy Training Centre at Prospects College in Basildon, Essex opened recently.

It is helping local plumbers, electricians and other building industry professionals to gain new skills or to retrain in areas such as solar thermal, solar PVs, ground and air source pumps, and grey water recycling.

With the continual rise in energy prices – up 37 per cent since October 2010 according to Citizens Advice  – more and more of us are starting to see renewables as the way to cut our gas and electricity bills.

But businesses, homeowners and schools also need reassurance that their local contractors are fully qualified to advise, then install these more sustainable technologies.

The new training centre at Prospects has been specifically set up to help address this: it offers BPEC-accredited training and 97 per cent of students who have used the centre so far have successfully completed and passed their courses.

How training is carried out

All of the courses in renewables are basedon a mix of classroom-led teaching and hands-on workshops to cover the range of practical skills needed to install and operate the latest technologies.

“We hope vocational training will inspire younger people to consider a future career in the building sector”

The new centre’s facilities, opened in September 2013 following a £1m building refurbishment designed by architects’ practice Ayshford Sansome and funded in partnership with Essex County Council, include a high-spec training hall complete with multiple roof mock-ups, internal roof spaces and other rigs alongside open-plan teaching spaces.

External solar PVs have been installed near the building entrance and are linked to internal panels enabling students to monitor yields and feedbacks to the grid.

In addition to commercial training, the centre also offers vocational training for 14-to-18-year-olds which we hope will inspire younger people to consider a future career in the building sector.

It is early days but several courses on renewables are linked with the college’s existing apprenticeships and training in engineering, building services and construction, and there are partnerships in place with local schools for specific environmental projects.

Jackie Northedge is commercial business development manager at Prospects College

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