Gas installers – work today and future-proof skills for tomorrow

The recent announcement of a new £450 million boiler upgrade scheme may have instilled gas installers with concern about their future as new skills are needed to meet the demand for low-carbon heating. But the good news is that there is plenty of work for a long time to come, allowing installers to seize the opportunity to future-proof their skills for tomorrow.

The Government scheme sees 90,000 old boilers replaced with heat pumps and, for those who want a career as a low-carbon heating engineer, gas installer training is the best place to start. 

As part of its new Heat and Buildings strategy, the government has announced funding to replace old gas boilers with highly efficient heat pumps. But there is no need for gas engineers to be concerned. Those with heating and hot water qualifications under their belt are in the best possible position to take advantage of the transition to heat pumps when the time is right. 

Traditional heating installation skills needed 

In the UK, we have 22 million gas-heated homes including appliances requiring safety checks, maintenance and repairs into the future. 1.7 million new gas boilers, with a lifespan of 15-20 years, are installed each year. This is in contrast to 35,000 heat pump installations; even if this increased to 600,000, that still leaves over a million gas boilers required to meet heating demand.  
Traditional heating qualifications are often pre-requisites to heat pump and renewables training and leading industry authorities agree that the market will rely on those with existing skills.   

The Heat Pump Association says: “The initial growth in heat pump installers will need to predominantly come from those already installing traditional heating systems. The fundamentals of heating do not change with a switch to heat pumps, in the current installer base many of the skills required for low carbon heating installation are already in place and these will need to be built upon.” 

A time of great change 

Mark Krull, managing director of LCL Awards, said: We are living through a time of great change – political, social, technological, and environmental. What we’ve seen since recently, particularly since the start of the pandemic, is the media reporting something, often speculative, and everyone panicking – buying excessive amounts of toilet rolls or filling up their cars to beat a largely avoidable fuel shortage.

“The same is true in our industry. Taken at face value, some media noise about the rapid expansion of the heat pump market and developments in hydrogen may cause concern to those considering training a career as a Gas Safe registered engineer. However, you don’t have to look too far beyond the headlines to see that gas engineering offers a prosperous career now that opens many doors to ongoing success in a low-carbon future.”