Energy Efficient Scotland: recommendations from quality assurance short life working group

Independent, industry led recommendations on five key elements of Energy Efficient Scotland: quality assurance, building a workforce, consumer protection, procurement, and non-domestic sector.

Chapter 2: Building the workforce

Competent And Appropriately Trained Workforce Individuals and businesses carrying out work under the Programme umbrella should be competent, appropriately trained and should agree to adhere to the Programme Code of Conduct. Individuals or businesses who fail to adhere to the standards or Code of Conduct will be removed from the scheme.

Sufficient Supply Chain Capacity There will be sufficient capacity in the supply chain to meet the demand for the Programme and be able to deliver the Programme offer.

Skills and Capacity: Building the workforce

Energy Efficient Scotland sets a long-term ambition for energy efficiency improvements to prevent uncertainty and ensure the development of an established market for energy efficiency retrofit. As previously outlined, the estimated investment Energy Efficient Scotland could attract is significant and has the potential to deliver considerable economic and social benefits.

It is important that local suppliers, particularly SMEs are able to participate in the Programme to ensure that these wider benefits are realised in communities across Scotland. Energy Efficient Scotland and the opportunities it presents can help develop Scotland's workforce while ensuring that individuals and businesses working under the Programme are appropriately-trained and qualified. The SLWG therefore considered both skills and capacity and the following sections provide a brief outline of the current energy efficiency supply chain landscape.


A recent report on local skills needs for Scotland [9] identified no Scotland-wide capacity issues in the wider construction sector. However, a shortage of skilled individuals in various energy efficiency retrofit-related roles was found to exist locally in rural and remote areas, such as the Highlands & Islands, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.


Many of the skills needed for retrofit are already prevalent in the construction industry e.g. plumbing and heating. This is why skills requirements and provisions under Energy Efficient Scotland could not only ensure skills and capacity is sufficient to meet an increase in energy efficiency retrofit demand, but could also help build capacity within the wider industry.

Certain energy efficiency measures, such as External Wall Insulation (EWI), are currently not supported by recognised qualifications, training or apprenticeships. The training is therefore largely based on manufacturers' systems and does not necessarily include building or construction types which may risk the installation of inappropriate materials. It is crucial for installers to have an understanding of the suitable products based on the property's characteristics.

energy efficiency measures

The need for a "whole building" approach which requires foundational knowledge of buildings and construction type, is reflected in the recommendations which follow. They focus primarily on the technical requirements which will be specified as part of Energy Efficient Scotland.

The Short Life Working Group perspective

The challenges and opportunities discussed by the SLWG included:

  • It will be challenging to ensure successful industry engagement with Energy Efficient Scotland in a climate of fluctuating investment certainty and a lack of clarity on the full Programme delivery mechanisms. This would influence the capacity of the supply chain and in turn influence its ability to respond to any increase in consumer demand for energy efficiency improvements.
  • In addition to establishing a long-term vision up to 2040 and market certainty, Energy Efficient Scotland provides an opportunity for developing local skills and building capacity in Scotland. This is in alignment with the Scottish Government Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board's Outline Plan [10] aiming to facilitate a wide range of organisations and agencies working collaboratively for a better Scotland.
  • There is potentially a gap in customer care training and this will be particularly evident under a programme like Energy Efficient Scotland. As retrofit work differs from other types of construction, where typically no or limited face to face interaction with customers happens, additional skills are required to ensure a good level of customer service is achieved.
  • The supply chain must be able to respond to a potential increase in consumer demand and be able to adapt to emerging technologies and innovation to avoid gaps in provision.
  • Energy Efficient Scotland represents an opportunity to further develop training on buildings and/or construction types to ensure that only the most appropriate measures are installed each time.


The following recommendations aim to ensure that individuals and businesses undertaking work as part of Energy Efficient Scotland are appropriately trained or upskilled, qualified and have the required competence to meet the needs of the Programme.

Recommendation 7. Installations under Energy Efficient Scotland must be based on skill and competencies, and a skills and qualifications matrix should be developed and clearly communicated to the supply chain to reflect this.

To ensure this is the case, the skills and qualifications requirements must be mandatory for any business wishing to participate in the Programme. However, it must take into account prior learning and on the job experience to allow participation of suppliers already within the industry. Scottish Government should also consider how any public sector procurement carried out for Energy Efficient Scotland can drive skill and competence whilst ensuring that requirements are proportionate, fair and non-exclusionary.

As a minimum, participants must meet core competency requirements including knowledge of the building or construction type (Recommendation 4) to ensure "a whole building" approach as well as customer service and care. In addition, individuals completing installations under Energy Efficient Scotland should be able to advise consumers on changes in behaviour following the installation to optimise the performance of the measure installed for example, where new heating controls have been installed.

An exercise should be undertaken to identify existing qualifications relating to energy efficiency, colleges offering them and any potential gaps. The Energy Skills Partnership will be taking forward this work in collaboration with the Energy Saving Trust, and more detail is provided below.

Energy Skills Partnership will undertake research in collaboration with the Energy Saving Trust to map Energy Efficient Scotland requirements against existing National Occupational Standards and determine where gaps exist. This work will also clearly set out qualification requirements under the Programme and create a new energy efficiency data link to all qualifications as part of the existing interactive skills map[4]. This work will ensure that Scotland's colleges are central to training. It is intended that this project will help achieve smarter integration and alignment of existing training and qualifications, drive sustainable inclusive growth and deliver good quality jobs.

Finally, all training opportunities should be advertised and be accessible to any supplier wishing to participate, particularly SMEs and micro-businesses, and those in remote and rural areas.

Recommendation 8. The skills and competency requirements of the designer role should be determined and an analysis of current capacity within the workforce should be undertaken.

If the role of the designer as outlined in Recommendation 5 is taken forward, it should be executed by an appropriately qualified individual e.g. an architectural technologist. These requirements will be considered as part of the skills and qualifications matrix developed by the Energy Skills Partnership detailed in Recommendation 7.

Recommendation 9. A mobilisation plan for developing skills for the supply chain should be published to help provide pipeline security and build capacity.

Many of the skills and trades already exist and this should therefore begin with an analysis of current supply chain capacity to identify any gaps that might impact on the ability to meet consumer demand under Energy Efficient Scotland. The mobilisation plan should also include timescales and key milestones for Energy Efficient Scotland from a supply chain perspective for example, the publication date of the Energy Efficient Scotland Quality Assurance criteria and the list of Programme-related training courses.

The mobilisation plan should have a particular focus on SMEs and micro-sized businesses across Scotland but especially in those areas with existing capacity issues i.e. the Highlands and Islands, and South East Scotland. It should be developed before the end of Energy Efficient Scotland Transition period and continue to be used as a tool for capacity building and skill development once the Programme is underway.

Recommendation 10. Energy Efficient Scotland should be well advertised to the supply chain via roadshows, events, webinars and trade publications.

Communications should be flexible and suited to the needs of the supply chain. Additionally, information on Energy Efficient Scotland should be regularly updated and communicated to give confidence to industry that the Programme has a financial commitment and will launch on schedule. This could build on existing research on energy supply chains [11] [12] and the Sustainable Energy Supply Chain Programme managed by EST [11], which provides on the ground training, webinars and guidance for SMEs on topics such as public procurement.

Recommendation 11. Investment in Energy Efficient Scotland must support inclusive economic growth

This means growth that combines increased prosperity with greater equality, creates opportunities for all, and distributes the benefits of increased prosperity fairly.

Energy Efficient Scotland should contribute to the development of a strong labour market that drives inclusive and sustainable economic growth, characterised by:

  • growing and competitive businesses;
  • an inclusive work environment which encourages more women to join the workforce;
  • high employment;
  • a skilled population capable of meeting employers' needs;
  • fair work being central to improving the lives of individuals and their families;

The Programme should foster a culture of fair work in Scotland, in which employees feel valued and fulfilled, and jobs are secure and well-paid. Businesses participating in Energy Efficient Scotland should be encouraged to commit to using fair work practices, such as paying the Living Wage, by signing up to the Scottish Business Pledge[5].



Back to top