Growing and scaling the supply chain
The final section of the call for evidence sought views on ensuring the supply chain can support future increase in demand for installation of low carbon heat. The call for evidence notes that decarbonising heat provides potentially significant economic opportunities. However, potential challenges are also highlighted such as the scale of supply chain growth that may be required.
Question 57 sought views on the actions required to ensure sufficient skills and capacity across the Scottish supply chain for installation of low carbon heat.
Readers should note that respondents’ focus on specific aspects of growing the supply chain for low carbon heat appeared to reflect their experience and expertise. For example, those active in a particular energy sector were generally more likely to refer to potential for growth in their sector and associated technologies. As such, views expressed cannot necessarily be read as representative of the full range of opinion. References are provided for specific claims where possible, and we note where evidence was not provided. Statements of opinion provided without evidence may not have been included.
A total of 34 respondents (63%) addressed Question 57.
There was support across all respondent groups for further development of the supply chain in Scotland. Some suggested that elements of the supply chain are being well developed, including fuel distribution networks. However, there was a common view that further development is required.
Respondents regarded meaningful ongoing engagement between Scottish Government and stakeholders as an important part of this process. It was suggested that this includes stakeholders across all parts of the supply chain, all geographical reasons, and trade associations. Some respondents wished to see a localised element, with a particular focus on assessing need for supply chain growth in rural areas. A local focus was suggested as a means of informing provision of training and development, and identification of specific projects which could help stimulate growth in the local supply chain.
Some referred to examples of successful growth of supply chains across Europe to support deployment of low carbon heat. These were seen as reinforcing the value of engagement with key stakeholders and the need to stimulate consumer demand. The work of the Quality Assurance Short Life Working Group and Qualifications and Skills Working Group were recommended as a basis for a Scottish approach.
Respondents suggested a range of specific approaches or actions as being required to support the Scottish supply chain, primarily related to regulation and standards, training and skills development, and consumer information and advice.
Comments around regulation and standards emphasised the need for clear long-term policy direction. A range of respondents perceived a role for policy in providing clear signals to industry, and encourage the investment required. Some suggested that industry has the capacity to deliver the required supply chain growth, but required policy direction and certainty around associated timescales from Scottish Government.
Comments around the need for training and skills development noted established training programmes being delivered by manufacturers, trade associations (such as BEAMA), installer bodies and the further education sector. It was recommended that Scottish Government seeks to enhance or add to these, ensuring a consistent level and quality of training across all parts of the supply chain. Some suggested a role for Skills Development Scotland and further/higher education in development of training for the sector. Some also perceived a need for public funding to incentivise installer training.
Specific recommendations for training and capacity building included:
- An installer training and accreditation scheme. This included recommendations for centres of excellence to support training and skills development across the full range of low carbon technologies. Respondents suggested that Scottish Government explore public/private funding mechanisms to support training centres.
- A specific focus on re-skilling of adults to enter the sector, including from the fossil fuel sector. Some suggested there is a pool of experienced Gas Safe installers that provide an opportunity to grow the low carbon supply chain.
- Ongoing engagement with stakeholders across the supply chain as an important means of identifying gaps in current training provision, and development of actions to address these.
- Ensure training scheme costs are proportionate to minimise potential barriers to installer engagement, particularly to encourage new entrants to the sector. The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) was described by some as onerous, and potentially discouraging participation.
- Consideration of how the curriculum could encourage school leavers to consider a career in the industry.
Respondents also saw a need for development of quality control and certification in the supply chain. This was recommended to build consumer confidence, and stimulate demand to support supply chain growth. An accredited installer scheme was suggested with reference to the developing Trustmark scheme in England and Wales as a potential model.
Respondents suggested that advice and information for consumers is required to drive consumer awareness and demand, and stimulate supply chain growth. This included improving consumer awareness, building confidence in the performance of low carbon heat, and communicating the rationale for switching as a means of motivating demand.
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