Into renewables? Get properly qualified!

If you are thinking about offering renewable installations as part of your existing business, then it’s important you keep on track with this fast- moving sector, and that includes your qualifications.

Are heat pumps a good option for your business

Many more consumers are asking about heating their homes from renewable sources and, like typical gas, liquid fuel and solid fuel combustion appliances, renewable installations fall under Building Regulations and either building control approval or self-certification via a government competent person scheme (CPS) is required.

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) should also be considered. It offers registration schemes for renewable installers and manages installation standards like MIS 3005-I for the installation of heat pumps. Most funding schemes will require the installer to be MCS registered, and the technology installed to MCS standards.

Competence levels of heating technicians are set by government’s minimum technical competencies (MTC) for CPS and, for MCS, they have a Competency Standard 025. Last year MCS revised its 025 Standard and made some comprehensive changes to those entering the renewables market.

Gone is the ‘experienced worker’ route. This was in originally for when renewable training was not easy to access, but now a lot more training centres are offering renewable installer courses. Also, the focus is now on regulated courses that are updated regularly to conform to the latest MTC’s.

At the end of the course there will be an assessment to ‘test’ the candidate and this will result in a certificate being issued by an accredited certification body or a regulated awarding body. After five years there is a requirement for re-assessment based on changes to standards, technology and working practices.

MCS Competency Standard 025 becomes mandatory

There are several courses that meet this MCS criteria, including the new air source heat pump installation and heat pump design courses that are now available at many OFTEC training centres. These are being run along the lines of the current Accredited Certification Scheme (for the gas sector), and OFTEC oil courses, in that you will receive a personal certificate of achievement that makes you eligible for CPS and MCS registration.

MCS registration has been available via OFTEC since 2014, so there will already be many technicians currently registered for renewables based on the experienced worker route, or who have taken a course that is now past the five-year allowance.

We will write to everyone affected and advise that the MCS Competency Standard 025 becomes mandatory on 1st April 2023, and it is the intention of the OFTEC Scheme Committee that all existing renewable technicians will hold a valid regulated course. However, to prevent difficulties, there will be a 12-month transition period (until the 31st March 2024) for courses to be attained.

To find out more about the heat pump courses at OFTEC centres please visit industry-training/training-courses-assessments

For a full list of MCS regulated training courses for all renewable technologies visit skills-and-competency/find-a-training- course/