The future of retrofit: what is The Retrofit Academy doing to meet demand? 

Author: Jenny Pierpoint, Chief Operating Officer

With the retrofit industry booming, let’s discuss how demand is changing and what The Retrofit Academy is doing to help organisations. 

What is retrofit demand like and how will it change?

Demand for retrofit, and in turn demand for retrofitters, is high and on the rise. With billions of pounds in funding coming to the fore from the UK government, it is no surprise that this relatively new industry is booming. There is already funding in place from schemes such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) and the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) which have kickstarted domestic retrofit across the UK. The announcement of SHDF Wave 2.2 in April 2024 will bolster confidence in the industry, as this suggests that retrofit projects will continue to grow in numbers in the coming years.

To deliver retrofit to a high standard, and to the scale required, the UK will need a huge 400,000 skilled retrofitters by 2050. It is therefore imperative that the right scale and quality of skills provision is available for businesses and individuals, and that the industry can attract the volume of workers it needs.

The market will also grow as private landlords and owner occupiers begin to look to improve their homes. With grants such as the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and the Great British Insulation Scheme available to these markets, the demand for retrofitters will only boom further.

So surely now is the time to join the retrofit revolution – but what opportunities does the market present for companies and individuals?

What roles are needed within the retrofit market?

As contractors, local authorities and social housing providers take on more projects, they will need to find the skills to deliver the work to a high standard.

In the summer of 2023, The Retrofit Academy carried out extensive research with key partner organisations to further understand where the skills gaps were.

Our research found that a key area of shortage is those roles outlined in PAS 2035, such as Retrofit Advisor, Retrofit Assessor, Retrofit Coordinator and Retrofit Designer. These roles are vital for ensuring projects are well organised, the correct efficiency measures are being installed, the best level of quality is being achieved and that residents are on board with and understand the work being carried out. If high-quality, large-scale retrofit of millions of homes is to be achieved, we need thousands more people to train to become Retrofit Advisors, Assessors, Coordinators and Designers.

In particular, we know that contractors and housing providers are experiencing a shortage of Retrofit Assessors. It is quite complex to carry out a retrofit assessment to achieve the highest quality results and requires great attention to detail and time. As an organisation committed to quality, we must ensure that our courses can support learners to deliver this for employer organisations, such as contractors and social housing providers.

There is also a high level of demand and a short supply of the practical skills needed to ensure that the energy efficiency measures specified by the Retrofit Coordinator are installed to a high quality. A particular gap that we have noted is in the insulation space, where a considerable number of external wall insulation, loft insulation and cavity wall insulation installers are needed to fill the current gap. In response to this, we have developed an external wall insulation course to help support the industry in addressing this gap.

Also in high demand, and again an area in short supply, are the skills needed to install renewable and low energy systems. Solar PV installers and qualified heat pump installers are, and will continue to be in high demand and we need to train thousands more to meet our current and future needs. As more homes look to make energy efficient upgrades, it will be these skills that will prove vital in making retrofit at scale a reality.

How is The Retrofit Academy addressing these skills gaps?

For large contractor firms, local authorities and social housing providers across the UK, being able to take on the challenge of retrofitting homes at scale requires an understanding of the roles required and where their skills gaps are. Working with industry, The Retrofit Academy has invested in a suite of tools that show gaps in an organisation’s current workforce and help to identify ways to close them. This suite of tools includes a Workforce Model and a Training Needs Analysis and its approach is Workforce Development.

The first of these tools available for our partners is our Workforce Model. This helps an organisation understand the workforce that they will need to successfully deliver their retrofit programmes. Whether that is 100 homes or 1,000 homes, the model is designed to show the total number of retrofitters needed so that partners can then discern how many people they need to upskill, and how many they need to recruit in order to carry out the work successfully.

The next tool is training Needs Analysis: this helps contractors, local authorities and social housing providers identify which individuals have the existing skills, or could learn the new skills, to undertake the various roles needed in a retrofit project. From there, we can create a tailor-made training programme to help an organisation achieve the skills and competencies required to deliver their retrofit projects.

Recruiting outside of an organisation can be tough, so we created The Retrofit Careers Hub to bring qualified retrofit professionals together with employers. Not only can people see vacancies and apply for them, but the Hub also provides a centre for networking, sharing knowledge, accessing resources and continuing development and learning throughout their career.

What can employers expect from a partnership with The Retrofit Academy?

As the driving force in retrofit knowledge and skills, we want to be our customers’ retrofit skills and training partner. They can expect an ongoing relationship that goes beyond merely providing one-off training courses. We are on a journey with clients as a Workforce Development partner, not only addressing their skills gaps for projects now, but adapting their model as they grow and win more projects in the future.

Of course, as the originators of many leading regulated retrofit qualifications and courses, which we have been developing since our inception in 2016, we provide the highest quality training available for the PAS 2035 roles. From our Level 2 Award in Understanding Domestic Retrofit to our Level 5 Diploma in Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management, there is a high-quality option for people wanting to train in the majority of PAS 2035 roles. We have already trained over 7,000 learners and 4,000 professional retrofitters, so clients can expect the best from our courses and know they are getting the leading training for these roles.

We are committed to developing new courses so that we can continue to support large contractors, local authorities and social housing providers as new needs emerge. We will be bringing a Retrofit Designer course to the market in early 2024 to meet a gap in this area. We have also seen a gap in competence with external wall insulation and have recently launched a course to get people’s theoretical knowledge of EWI up to a high standard. We have also just launched a free course – Retrofit 101 – for anyone looking to get a better understanding of retrofit or start their career as a retrofitter. This introductory course gives an understanding of what domestic retrofit is, why it’s important and what the process of retrofit looks like. We have designed it so that more people can make the first step into the world of retrofit than ever before and access our years of retrofit knowledge.

We are the leaders in this space. As a business committed to quality, our clients can always expect the best from our courses and ongoing partnership relationships. We are positive, not focusing on the problems but finding solutions and new ways of working. We are ethical, looking after our clients, learners, suppliers and colleagues. We empower our team, our clients and our community of retrofitters to deliver high quality retrofit at scale. And we are practical, meaning we are hands on and deliver added value through well-developed tools and solutions for our clients.

Want to know more about why we are the one to partner with for retrofit knowledge and skills? Click here to find out.