Microgeneration strategy for Scotland

Following on from the Renewables Routemap 2020, this is a sectoral routemap for microgeneration.

5 Skills

Successes and Actions To Date

  • The establishment of Scotland's Colleges Energy Skills Partnership ( ESP) - a network of Scottish colleges supported by the Scottish Funding Council to meet the skills needs of Scotland's rapidly developing energy sector.
  • The SEAM Centre is a new training, information and research facility for Sustainable Energy and Micro-renewables based at Inverness College UHI.
  • The industry developed a new Environmental Technology Certificate, accredited by SQA, now the recognised competency standards for microgeneration.
  • Microrenewables are a core part of the Modern Apprenticeships, ensuring that new apprentices have an awareness of microgeneration technologies and the opportunity to train in their installation.
  • The industry-led Scottish Environmental Technologies Training Centre set up by SELECT, offers courses in solar PV, solar thermal and heat pumps systems in conjunction with SNIPEF and B& ES .
  • The creation of the Scottish Energy Installers Alliance (previously the Scottish Microrenewables Working Group), representing the Scottish construction sector, to ensure skilled operatives and apprentices.
  • There are now 532 installers operating in Scotland, 311 with headquarters here, creating jobs in the design, installation and support services for microgeneration technologies.

The Skills Investment Plan for the Energy Sector published in 2011 by Skills Development Scotland, looked at the employment opportunities in the energy sector, including microgeneration, and put forward an action plan to ensure Scotland can meet its ambitious energy targets.

Many new and existing businesses have taken advantage of the growth in microgeneration to diversify. There are now 311 Scottish-based installers registered under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme and more companies which operate across the UK. The Scottish Government's commitment to renewables has encouraged manufacturers of wind turbines, solar thermal and heat pumps to create jobs in Scotland.

5.1 Employment Opportunities

In 2011, ConstructionSkills carried out research for the Scottish Government on the skills needed for Energy Efficiency and Microgeneration in the Built Environment. Many of the skills needed already exist in the competencies needed by the electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

The role of energy advisors and energy assessors will become increasingly important as the Green Deal is rolled out. They will have an important role to play in providing initial advice and guidance, as well as Energy Performance Certificates. The research indicates that over the next few years, publicly funded investment programmes for energy efficiency and microgeneration will help to retain over 4,000 FTEs per year across the Scottish construction industry as well as acting as a catalyst for additional investment.

5.2 Microgeneration Training

Microgeneration offers opportunities to new and existing businesses. The skilled workforce in construction sector already has many of the key competencies to deliver good quality installations and most employers view microgeneration as an addition to their business, developing the existing skill sets of experienced employees. Scottish Government, training providers and industry are working together to ensure that we have the right training for the additional specialist skills to help employers upskill their workforce.

As the Sector Skills Council with responsibility for microgeneration, SummitSkills has developed two sets of National Occupational Standards ( NOS) for microgeneration under the title Environmental Technologies:

  • The Operative level covers installation, service and maintenance of a range of microgeneration systems
  • The Higher level covers the design aspects

In partnership with SQA and the industry in Scotland, Summitskills has developed a competence based qualification known as The Certificate in Environmental Technology Systems (Microgeneration) jointly awarded between SQA and the industry partnership of SELECT/ SNIPEF and the Building & Engineering Services Association (B& ES), formerly HVCA. This is the only industry recognised competence qualification for microgeneration in Scotland and is the add-on to the pre-existing qualifications of the trade.

SummitSkills intends to use the Certificate to upskill the existing workforce, and to ensure the correct competence levels are achieved, the entry level will be limited to operatives who have already achieved a Level 3 qualification in their discipline. SummitSkills has also revised all of its building engineering services ( BSE) SVQ's to include elements of Environmental Technology Microgeneration Systems appropriate to each discipline, and revised Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks will ensure microgeneration skills are embedded into training provision for new entrants.

Training providers have, in the main, anticipated growth within microgeneration, and many have already begun to address their own organisations capability and a need for developing 'train the trainer' initiatives. Scotland's colleges have responded positively to the growing need for skilled operatives, setting up new provision and coordination through Scotland's Colleges Energy Skills Partnership ( ESP), with a number of dedicated renewable and microgeneration training centres including:

  • the SEAM Centre in Inverness is an important knowledge hub for microrenewables and sustainable energy technology within the Highlands and Islands and Scotland.
  • South Lanarkshire College has worked with Dawn Homes and more than 50 private sector partners to design and build create the Aurora, an affordable low-energy low-carbon house. Aurora showcases a range of microgeneration and energy efficiency technologies.

Industry is also taking the initiative to upskill its workforce. SELECT, in conjunction with SNIPEF and B& ES have set up the Scottish Environmental Technology Centre at their headquarters in Roslin, offering courses in solar PV, solar thermal and heat pumps systems.


The ESP is a new network of Scottish colleges with an established track record in the energy sector, aims to meet the skills needs of Scotland's rapidly developing energy sector.

The ESP, comprising core members and supporting associates, aims to respond quickly to changing skills requirements from employers, pool expertise and resources, and reduce unnecessary duplication.

It will work with industry, stakeholders and the university sector across geographical groups covering all of Scotland. A sample of the training provision available through the ESP is included in Annex 2

The skills needs will cover the various energy sub sectors with a particular focus on the renewable energy sector, including microgeneration.

5.3 Development of Partnerships and Networks

Two developments in particular have been set up to ensure that Universities and Colleges work across the sector in an effective and joined up way:

  • The Energy Technology Partnership ( ETP) - this consists of around 250 academics and 600 researchers and is considered to be the largest, most broad based power and energy research partnership in Europe.
  • The Scottish Funding Council ( SFC) announced last summer (2011) that it would invest £300,000 over three years in the Scotland's Colleges Energy Skills Partnership ( ESP), to co-ordinate energy activity across the FE sector (see box).

The liaison across these two strands is important to ensure businesses and learners are able to readily find their way to the right part of the wide range of provision that is in place.

5.4 Awareness Raising

Careers Information

My World of Work is Skills Development Scotland's ( SDS) new web service and aims to help people plan, build and direct their career throughout their lives. Providing information on skills, learning and employment, it supports the Scottish Government's ambitions for the improved delivery of an all age, universal careers service. Including a section on Energy, customers can see jobs in action; build their CVs; search for vacancies and explore training opportunities in a way that is personal to them. There is a wide range of video clips of people talking about their job roles and a significant magazine element with exciting, current content that is relevant to the world of work.


Innovation in microgeneration means that skill development must be kept up to date with latest developments. Industry groups such as the Summitskills' Manufacturers Group ensure that training provision is prepared to meet both current and future needs, and there are several websites carrying useful information for businesses including Cut the Carbon ( www.cutcarbon.info). The Low Carbon Skills Fund, administered by Skills Development Scotland, currently assists employers to upskill staff in carbon reduction and microgeneration techniques.

Awareness of training provision

In order to deliver against the microgeneration skills challenge it is essential for people to easily access information on what training is needed for jobs in the sector and also where that training is delivered. An Energy Skills Training Database is currently being developed through a partnership of Energy&Utility Skills, the National Skills Academy of Power, SummitSkills and OPITO to provide a repository of all the appropriate training for the sector to enable learners to search for appropriate courses of study to support their needs. Microgeneration training provision is being included in this database.


The Low Carbon Skills Fund, provides access to sector specific training to help improve business performance, efficiency, and the adoption of improvement processes relating to low carbon. It provides Scottish businesses the opportunity to apply for assistance towards employee training costs. It provides funding for up to 25 'episodes' of training; and provides 50% of training costs, up to a maximum of £12,500 per business.

  • The type of training/qualifications that are eligible for support include:
  • Renewable energy, low carbon technologies and microgeneration
  • Energy efficiency, environmental and clean technologies
  • Waste management and reuse
  • Reducing carbon in supply and energy management.

5.5 Key Actions

Action 10 Skills Development Scotland will work with Scottish Colleges to build on the audit of training provision to provide a searchable database, including Further Education and Higher Education provision.

Action 11 The Microgeneration Task Group will map current research into existing housing stock, and identify gaps and future research needs.


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