SHDF success relies on practical retrofit skills gap being addressed, says expert

After the successful bids for Wave 2.2 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) were announced this week, the UK’s leading retrofit knowledge and skills expert is warning the scheme’s success is in the balance unless the practical skills challenge is tackled. 

£75m has been allocated in this second wave of SHDF funding, giving more social housing providers across the UK the opportunity to finance energy efficient upgrades to their housing stock. 

With Waves 1 and 2 already providing energy efficiency funding for around 29,500 social homes, The Retrofit Academy is emphasising the need for the retrofit skills gap to be addressed to enable the successful delivery of SHDF programmes. 

Key to this is local authorities, social housing providers, contractors, and retrofit organisations collaborating to identify their own practical retrofit skills gaps and putting measures in place to address them, as David Pierpoint, CEO of The Retrofit Academy, explains. 

“It is encouraging to see the government reinforce its commitment to making social housing more efficient and lowering the bills of tenants through retrofit. However, we must be realistic and practical when it comes to making the SHDF a success and focus on quality at all stages of training and delivery of retrofit. 

“We must first work together to identify which skills are required to fill PAS 2035 roles that will deliver the SDHF programmes across the UK. After that, we can put measures in place to develop and grow the number of retrofitters in line with new schemes that support the industry, eventually reaching the quantity we need to retrofit all 27 million homes.” 

As Workforce Development Partner to the industry, The Retrofit Academy is working with several organisations including Clarion, Kier, Wates, and Equans to identify the practical retrofit skills gap for delivering their SHDF programmes. Armed with a new suite of Workforce Development tools and knowledge of where the gaps in the retrofit workforce lie, the company has been able to work with the organisations to identify training needs and recruitment requirements. 

Through key partnerships with local authorities such as the Greater South East Net Zero Hub (GSENZH) and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the company is also working closely with key regions to facilitate their SHDF programmes by supporting with training and establishing retrofit supply chains between local organisations. 

Through its retrofit training courses and working with local authorities on Skills For Life Bootcamps, The Retrofit Academy is set to build on the 7,000 learners it has already enrolled to provide the market with enough competent retrofitters to step up to the challenge. As the second wave of the SHDF brings more job opportunities, it is more crucial than ever that the practical retrofit skills gap is addressed so that positions can be filled across the UK. 

David added: “The challenge ahead is a significant one, but we are partnering with contractors, housing associations and local authorities to identify their practical retrofit skills gaps and working with them to address the training needs to fill those. By collaborating to create the supply chain to make a success of high-quality, large-scale retrofit, real progress can be made to reduce emissions in homes, lower energy bills, create green jobs, and provide comfortable healthy homes for social housing tenants.” 

For more information about developing a retrofit workforce or qualifying with The Retrofit Academy, click here