Heat pump training grant welcomed by oil heating trade body as key to skill diversification

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has announced details of a new Heat Training Grant to increase the number of heat pump installers. The grant, which is available in England, will provide trainees with a discount or rebate of up to £500.

OFTEC says grant scheme compliments its investment in diverse installer skills.

The scheme is expected to launch in Spring 2023, following the conclusion of the Home Decarbonisation Skills Training Competition. The grant budget is £5 million which could help train 10,000 heat pump installers.

A diverse installer base

In a statement OFTEC, the trade body representing oil-fired heating technicians, says the training grant scheme compliments its own investment in a diverse installer skills base.

Following the announcement, David Knipe, training manager at OFTEC, commented: “We welcome this additional funding to support the training of thousands more heat pump installers. This significant investment sends a clear signal that the technology has an important role to play in our transition to low carbon heating and a net zero future.

“OFTEC is fully committed to the rollout of heat pumps in suitable properties and this grant will support technicians who enrol on OFTEC’s courses through our networking of training centres.

“We’ve seen a noticeable increase in installers on our courses following our participation in the Home Decarbonisation Skills Training competition, which demonstrates there is a healthy appetite amongst technicians to diversify into new technologies.”

Future proofing

“This new grant scheme will provide a welcome boost to the growing heat pump market, and a further opportunity for technicians to future-proof their business,” David continues. “As we expect to see a significant shift in the way we heat our homes and businesses over the coming years.

“As the heat pump industry continues to develop, we must ensure we maintain high standards through our training infrastructure to deliver the best outcomes for consumers. This new government scheme is an important step forward in achieving this ambition.”

OFTEC offers the following heat pump courses:

•             OFT21-504A – Installation, commissioning, and servicing of air source heat pumps
•             OFT21-504D – Design of heat pump systems

With the following course also available from April 2023:

•             OFT21-504G – Installation, commissioning and servicing of Ground Source Heat Pumps

Technicians who successfully complete the courses can apply for MCS certification to install heat pumps through government schemes such as the Home Upgrade Grant or Boiler Upgrade Scheme. They will also be able to self-certify their own installations as being compliant with Building Regulations.

The courses incorporate theoretical and practical assessment across different heat pump products to give technicians the flexibility to install the technology. They are delivered through OFTEC’s existing network of training providers and most heating technicians should already hold the necessary skills and experience to meet the course pre-requisites.

Additional skills

Malcom Farrow, OFTEC’s head of public affairs, has previously highlighted the investment the organisation has made in its own training provision to support installers looking to expand and diversify their skills in order to offer heat pump installations alongside oil and biofuel systems.

OFTEC’s own registration scheme now caters for a much wider range of technologies that when it was originally set up and its training investment is to ensure it was offering installers the chance to expand their skills as Malcolm elaborates: “I think that’s a really important development for our sector – but not just for our sector. Obviously while we are keen for existing OFTEC registrants who want to broaden the scope of their work to include heat pumps to take up the training, it is equally applicable to people working in the gas environment as well.”

“So there is no reason while gas installers couldn’t do training at an OFTEC training centre and then register for MCS and start doing heat pump installations in the way heating oil people are.”

Further information on the full scope of OFTEC training can be found here.