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Jobs boost as 14 recruits trained as retrofitters in pioneering project to bridge green skills gap

Fourteen unemployed Merseyside residents are being retrained in much needed green skills to help local businesses and lead decarbonisation in the region.

The pioneering social value project is connecting the dots between Knowsley-based national procurement experts Fusion21, a Housing Association, training provider Complete Skills Solutions, an energy company struggling to find enough trained staff and two local councils thanks to funding from the Metro Mayor.

Liverpool energy and construction specialists Ecogee is committed wherever possible to recruit staff locally but has struggled to find people with the right skills to become retrofit assessors.

The company based in Brookfield Business Park is looking for the assessors to measure the energy performance of properties and analyse everything from insulation to heating and ventilation systems.

Sefton Council, Halton Council and housing experts Prima Group which currently owns and manage over 2700 properties in Merseyside and beyond all work with Ecogee.

All three procured Ecogee’s services through a decarbonisation framework from Merseyside-based Fusion21 which helps companies embrace social value and ensure the wider community benefits from the work they do.

Funding of £15,000 from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) will see up to fourteen local people train as Retrofit Assessors. Set to begin this Spring, the recruits will be able to enrol for free on accredited retrofit assessor courses devised by Liverpool-based Complete Skills Solutions (one of LCRCA’s training providers), which cover everything from building surveys to producing accurate reports on how energy efficient a building is known as Energy Performance Certificates.

But crucially during the three-week intensive training the recruits will be able to put their new skills into action, shadowing experts and joining Ecogee’s teams when they carry out work in domestic properties on behalf of Sefton Council, Halton Council and Prima Group.

It means the fourteen recruits will gain practical experience shadowing a qualified retrofit assessor on genuine projects.

The recruitment drive comes as Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram is funding improvements to city region homes as part of an ambition plan to reach net zero carbon by 2040.

And nationally, efforts to decarbonise the UK including the housing sector is being hampered by a skills shortage in the construction industry where Census data reveals around a fifth of workers are over 55.

While the number of construction vacancies increased by over 200% in 2021, the number of applications dropped by over 50% according to CV Library.
And a recent Construction News report said green skills must be embedded into training amid research from the Construction Industry Training Board which concluded to meet net zero aims, 350,000 new roles will need to be created in the construction industry.

After taking the short courses – namely a Level 3 Certificate in Domestic Energy Assessment and Level 2 Award in Understanding Domestic Retrofit – they will have the skills and accreditation needed to be retrofit assessors with a view to securing jobs at Ecogee as well as other Fusion21 suppliers on its decarbonisation framework.

Today, Sarah Maguire, Fusion21’s Head of Social Value said she was delighted Fusion21 had been able to bring everyone together for the “win-win” project.

“This is a fantastic collaboration which will make a real difference to the lives of local unemployed residents.

“We’re delighted to have helped join the dots on this scheme that will not only help fourteen people get the industry-ready training and skills needed to gain jobs with our suppliers and helping people but allow all the organisations involved to deliver their own social value commitments.

“And it’s great that aside from realising its social value ambitions Ecogee will get the cream of the crop and recruit employees that meet their requirements and enhance its work to help people live in more energy efficient homes.”

Ian Green, Managing Director for Complete Skills Solutions, said,

“We are excited to work with organisations such as Ecogee and Fusion21. Following our initial meeting it was evident that there was a skills shortage faced within the sector. We collectively set about designing a programme that provided those skills in a true partnership with Ecogee. This learning programme will see the learners shadowing a current retrofit assessor and doing so in real housing stock that is in need of key elements of retrofit work. This is such a fantastic opportunity for those Liverpool city residents selected to take part in this programme, not only to secure employment, but to build a career in the green skills economy.”

John Ghader, Prima Housing Group’s Chief Executive, commented

“It’s great to be able to be part of a project that not only improves our tenants’ homes but that is positively creating new jobs too.”

Based in Prescot, Merseyside Fusion21 is a national social enterprise specialising in efficient and impactful public sector procurement and visible social value.

To date, the organisation has saved its members more than £348 million through the procurement process, created over 10,948 employment outcomes, and generated more than £155 million in social impact.