A Vaillant arotherm heat pump in a garden setting

Heating engineers back upskilling in heat pumps, new Vaillant survey finds

Four in five heating engineers are not currently fitting heat pumps although they recognise the need to train, according to a new survey.

The research by Vaillant of those registered on its Advance loyalty programme found that 87 per cent said they were interested in training on air source heat pumps in the next 12 months. They want to train to future-proof their business or develop their career, to benefit financially from installing a diverse range of heating technologies, and to help the environment by supporting the government’s net-zero agenda.

The survey of more than 1,300 heating engineers was aimed at getting a deeper understanding of the barriers and motivators behind retraining to be able to offer customers low-carbon technologies. It’s estimated that 100,000 heat pump installers are needed to meet the government’s target to fit 600,000 heat pumps ever year by 2028. However, latest figures show that there are currently just 1,500 MCS-accredited businesses in the UK.

Vaillant estimates that heat pump training for an existing heating engineer can take up to 9.5 days: however, on average, the installers surveyed only needed a further 6.5 days training because they already have some of the skills needed to fit a heat pump.

Time away from the tools also didn’t appear to be an immediate barrier to training. Of the 994 installers who expressed an interest in upskilling, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) said they would still be interested in training after learning the required training time. More than half said they would prefer entirely in-person training compared with 40 per cent who would prefer a combination of in-person and online training.

A lack of support seems to be the biggest barrier to training, with more than 70 per cent saying they felt the government needed to do more. More than 40 per cent said the government should cover the cost of heat pump training in order to achieve its 600,000 installation target.

Since the survey was carried out, the government has announced that £500 of funding will be available towards heat pump training. Vaillant’s technologies and training director Mark Wilkins says: “The Heat Training Grant is a significant step towards making heat pump training more accessible for the installer community, wherever they are in their career.

“I’m delighted that Vaillant is also supporting this scheme, and we are working diligently with our training partners and internal teams to enhance our current heat pump training offer to ensure it simplifies the process for installers, providing them with cost-effective and accessible training to gain the relevant qualifications to take a heat pump installation through from the design stage all the way to commissioning.”

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