BESA welcomes Budget boost for green skills

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The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has applauded the Chancellor for setting aside £3.8bn for education and skills with particular focus on additional support for SMEs and the creation of new T-levels to help young adults take up vocational careers.

The new funds announced in this week’s Budget back up promises made by the government in last week’s Net Zero strategy to create 440,000 ‘green collar’ jobs by 2030 to help decarbonise key sectors of the economy including heating and cooling of buildings.

The Budget also contained news of a business rates reduction scheme for firms looking to install heat networks, solar panels, and battery storage. The Association said this would provide welcome impetus to technologies that will play a key role in reducing the 40% of global carbon emissions linked to the built environment.

BESA welcomed the continued commitment to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which the government says could reach up to 11 million adults giving them the opportunity to gain a new qualification for free. However, the Association said it was important to target this funding at areas where there are key skills gaps including building services.

The Chancellor also restated his commitment to the Help to Grow scheme, which BESA thinks could provide useful additional support to SMEs to help boost their productivity and business growth.

The Association said employers should work with the government to finalise a more comprehensive national plan for low carbon skills to help create the two million jobs needed to help fully decarbonise the economy by 2050. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) only about 200,000 people are currently employed in sectors directly linked to decarbonisation including energy efficiency and renewables.

“The government is clearly committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment but delivering that vision will require a huge expansion and upskilling of the workforce in key sectors like engineering and construction,” said BESA President Neil Brackenridge.

“UK vacancies are at their highest levels since records began at 1.1 million (according to ONS) but there are still thousands of young people, in particular, looking for work,” he added. “Many now aspire to careers where they can have an impact on the climate crisis.

“However, this will require a considerable increase in the number of people guided towards technical training – like T-levels and vocational degrees – with a particular emphasis on STEM subjects. So, the additional funding announced today by the Chancellor is very welcome, but it needs to be backed up by a comprehensive skills plan to ensure it is spent wisely.”

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