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‘Mountain to climb’, ECA tells London Assembly investigating green skills

The London Assembly Environment Committee recently investigated the challenges of increasing the supply of low-carbon skilled jobs in the Capital.

Andrew Eldred, Director of Workforce and Public Affairs, gave evidence to the Committee on the electrical sector and findings from local labour market research.

Last year the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, published the London Net Zero 2030 analysis. This evaluated four pathways for policies to reach net zero targets by 2030, with estimates for the numbers of jobs needed to achieve these.

Jules Piper, Deputy Mayor of the Greater London Authority, said: 

“To meet the Mayor’s 2030 net zero targets, we need to encourage more investment in training, particularly for electricians and plumbers”

Eldred, agreeing with the Deputy Mayor, stressed that training more fully qualified electricians is central to electrifying the Capital. Electricians are vital to the safe and timely rollout of low carbon installations and infrastructure, such as Electric Vehicle Charge Points and Solar Panels that help decarbonise the grid. 

Training must be industry approved to guarantee the safe and reliable electricity we’ve come to expect. Short technology-specific courses and those which are purely classroom-based add nothing to the skilled electrical workforce and expose Londoners to unintended risks.  Risks which may include fires and loss of life through unsafe installations and potential grid outages. 

Findings from the labour market research, sponsored by ECA and other industry bodies, show that the Greater London area has ‘a mountain to climb’ if it is to meet the Mayor’s current net zero ambitions and resolve the current electrical skills gap. The research shows that Greater London’s electrical contractors have lower levels of green skills capacity on average than contractors in most of the rest of the UK.

“Electricians, and the contractors who employ them, are essential to the transition to net zero. But our research shows a vast difference in the size and sustainability of the electrical workforce from one region to the next. At present, Greater London languishes near the bottom of almost every measure.” says Eldred

He added, “Apprentice recruitment in the region is lower than almost anywhere else. By contrast, college learners on electrical courses outnumber local apprentice starts by an astonishing 800%. Typically, fewer than 10% of these learners then manage to progress to an apprenticeship after college; this is a terrible waste. We urgently need the GLA, London local authorities, education providers and employers to work together effectively to support more learners into rewarding green electrical careers.”

There was a general consensus during the Committee hearing that the term ‘green jobs’ was open to misinterpretation and widely misunderstood. Increasing training in key trade occupations such as electricians and plumbers, with opportunities for upskilling in specific low carbon technologies, was essential. 

Find out more about ECA’s work to increase the professional electrical workforce.

Last updated 26 October 23