The City of Liverpool College expands courses nationally in bid to create greener future

The City of Liverpool College is expanding its highly successful apprenticeships programme to tradesmen and budding apprentices across the country, as part of its mission to close the skills gap and contribute to a greener future.

From September, the College will be moving away from the existing ‘day release’ model of its Level 3 The Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heat Pump (RACHP) Engineering Technician Apprenticeship, and instead rolling out a ‘block release’ structure.

In the current delivery model, apprentices are required to attend the College once a week over the course of the year for up to three years, with, apprentices therefore ideally needing to be based in the local area to make the frequent commute.

With an increasing number of the College’s employer partners successfully winning work nationally, the College has introduced an innovative new approach that will enable it to adapt to the needs of employers across both the Liverpool City Region (LCR) and the rest of the UK.

The introduction of the new block model means that apprentices will attend the College’s Vauxhall Road premises for seven one-week periods over the course of the academic year, opening opportunities to long-distance apprentices and company partnerships, who can book their apprentices onto the invaluable course.

This new structure also allows employers to plan for the absence of their apprentices, avoiding complications with the workforce, which has previously impacted employers enrolling their staff on to the courses.

The new RACHP model will lead the way in training the next generation of renewable installers to help meet ambitious carbon reduction and climate change targets set by government.

It comes as the UK heat sector is set to play an integral part in the transition to net-zero, with the Climate Change Committee anticipating that, to reach 2050 climate targets of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, 17 million UK homes may have a heat pump installed.

Last year, the Government announced its 10-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, which highlighted the critical importance of decarbonising homes across the country. The plan included the phase-out of gas heating in new homes by 2023 and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.

Following the announcement, the demand for heat pumps in the UK began to soar, with more homeowners striving to be eco-friendly and embracing the benefits that come from installing heat pumps, such as lower long-term energy costs.

At the same time, the Heat Pump Association (HPA) warned the sector was suffering low levels of technology deployment and could also be hindered by a skills gap in the sector, as it was estimated 60,000 installation workers will be needed by 2028 to help meet these targets, but only 1,800 people currently possessed the right training.

The City of Liverpool College recognises the need to invest in the training and upskilling of over 40,000 heat pump installers needed by 2035, to achieve widescale deployment and close the skills gap in the industry.

Over 30 local businesses already work in partnership with the College on its RACHP apprenticeship, and with the launch of this new model, the College predicts a significant increase in this number from companies across the country looking to welcome new workers and upskill current employees as demand in this area increases.

Lindsey Meadows, Head of Apprenticeships at The City of Liverpool College, said, “As we continue our mission as the College for business, it’s important that we open our doors to more companies and apprentices from across the country and do our part in closing the skill gap that is currently present in the heating technology industry.

“This new model means apprentices from across the country can attend the course and gain their highly-valued qualification in a more convenient format, which is also hugely beneficial for employers.

“The new format will ensure employers can access the skilled workforce needed to help the country build back greener after the pandemic. We are helping to set the standards for the industry, providing the vital skills and opportunities required to be at the forefront of a Green Industrial Revolution.

“We are delighted to be opening the doors to this apprenticeship built for a green future, which creates the right skills and environment for our industry to grow.

“Through this apprenticeship, we are hoping to help diminish some of the barriers that existing engineers face when looking to expand into low-carbon heating, including difficulty finding dedicated courses and courses that then meet the needs of the installer.”

The new format will launch with the new academic year from September and apprentices and businesses can enrol by visiting https://www.liv-coll.ac.uk/courses/refrigeration-air-conditioning-and-heat-pump-engineering-technician-level-3-apprenticeship-standard/

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