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Kingfisher Discusses The Green Skills Gap

Green Home environment Shutterstock

Research from Kingfisher plc, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, has found tradespeople are seeing growing demand for projects to make UK homes ‘greener’ but many do not feel they have the skills needed to take on the jobs. 

Key points:

  1. Over half (54%) of tradespeople have said they’ve noticed an increase in requests from customers for jobs that will make their homes more sustainable, from installing a heat pump to water efficient bathroom fittings, over the past 5 years.

  2. However, almost one in four (22%) feel they do not have the knowledge or skills to retrofit homes to make them greener. Fewer than 1 in 5 tradespeople know how to fit a solar panel (15%) or a heat pump (17%).

  3. More than one in four (28%) said a lack of government support for training was the reason why they felt they didn’t have the knowledge of skills to retrofit homes, while more than one in five (23%) said that they didn’t know where to look for information about green skills training.

  4. This comes as a separate Kingfisher survey revealed 88% of the British public believe the UK needs more skilled tradespeople to meet the evolving needs of UK homes.

  5. The shortage in green skills is part of a wider challenge for trade industries identified by Kingfisher research published last month, which revealed the UK is on course to face a shortage of 250,000 tradespeople by 2030, costing the economy an estimated £98bn. 

To ensure the UK has enough tradespeople to help deliver its net zero targets, Kingfisher is proposing three policy areas where government could make a meaningful difference.

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Thierry Garnier, Kingfisher CEO, said: “Tradespeople play a vital role in our economy and society - from improving and maintaining the nation’s homes to installing energy efficiency measures that cut bills and emissions. To maximise the UK’s growth but also to progress on net zero over the coming decade, it’s vital that business and Government work together to encourage and support more young people to consider trade roles”.

Angie Clemson, a builder from Sheffield commented: “Over the last few years, I’ve seen lots more interest from customers to make their homes more energy efficient. However, knowing where to look for advice and training as a tradesperson about ‘green skills’, is tricky. All of us will need to make our homes more sustainable to make sure they’re fit for the future, so it’s a great opportunity for me to expand my customer base and grow my business. But the tradesperson community definitely needs more support to be able to take on this kind of work on the scale the country needs”.

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Kingfisher’s policy recommendations

1) Stronger career advice in schools to encourage young people to take up a trade career

  • Review the remit of the National Careers Service to look at how pathways to trade careers could be better represented in school careers advice. Emphasise how trades can contribute to tackling climate change and offer opportunities to run your own business.

  • Encourage schools to invite tradespeople to careers fairs and talks with students, particularly women working in trades to ensure more visible role models.

 2) Hiring incentives to support SMEs in taking on, training and retaining apprentices

  • Introduce a grant similar to the £3,000 apprenticeship incentive that was in place during the pandemic, with a £1,000 apprenticeship completion bonus, to support SMEs in taking on apprentices. Combine this with a partial or complete National Insurance break per apprentice for SMEs.

  • Create a simple one-stop advice service to help tradespeople to hire apprentices, with practical guidance on navigating issues such as pensions and insurance.  

  • Explore ways to incentivise older tradespeople who may be thinking about retiring, or wanting to work part-time, to use their experience to help train up the next generation of trade apprentices.

 3) Cost of living support to ensure trade apprenticeships are financially viable for young people

  • Provide Trade Apprentices with loan support similar to university students to help them with the set-up costs of their apprenticeship (e.g. purchase of necessary tools and clothing)

  • Raise the apprentice minimum wage to the same rate as the national minimum wage for apprentices under 19 and those in the first year of their apprenticeship.

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Source : Kingfisher PLC

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05 December 2023

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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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