Clean heat and energy efficiency workforce assessment

Erratum: Please note that one sentence in the executive summary of this report, related to the middle scenario, has been updated in June 2023 to reflect the data and conclusions.

To meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious climate change targets, there will need to be a significant increase in the deployment of energy efficiency and low carbon heat measures in domestic and non-domestic buildings in the next decade. To deliver this, the supply chain in Scotland needs to be fit-for-purpose in terms of having the capacity and skills to deliver this scale of technology deployment.

This report reviews the current capabilities and skills along the supply chain of the energy efficiency and low carbon heating technologies in Scotland, identifies the skills gaps and analyses the potential options to fill these gaps to meet the targets set out in the Heat in Buildings Strategy.

Future workforce requirements

  • To meet the Scottish Government’s statutory climate change targets, we estimate that the peak full-time equivalent workforce required for energy efficiency and low carbon technologies by 2030 would be between 4,500 to 5,400 installers of thermal insulation, assuming a linear growth in the number of installations.
  • The study explored three scenarios of heat network uptake, alongside heat pumps and direct electric installations. The middle scenario requires 4,600-11,400 heat pump installers, 320-4,000 heat network installers and 530-1,100 direct electric installers.

Other key findings

  • The view of the respondents was that there are current shortages in the energy efficiency and low carbon heat workforce, which adds to the challenge of attracting the required future workforce numbers.
  • Respondents considered the landscape of different funding sources to support upskilling / re-skilling in the energy efficiency area very complex to apply for. Smaller businesses reported finding it a considerable challenge to find the most appropriate funding for their needs and to pursue with the application process. 
  • Employers will need to have the confidence to invest in their future workforce as they will need to play an important part by bringing in new workforce to this field. For certain roles the route in is to take on apprentices and offer them employment after completing their apprenticeships.
  • There is also a need to attract and upskill new entrants for roles which do not have an apprenticeship route. Ways to bring in more new entrants will need to be looked at and companies need to be prepared to invest in training up these new entrants.