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Energising skills

Peter Behan, Director of Group Horizon, discusses the importance of offering training and apprenticeships to help meet demand for skilled engineers

Maintaining a tight grasp on energy efficiency is crucial for organisations in both the short-term and long-term. There is the significant challenge of the UK’s net-zero carbon by 2050 target looming on the horizon, and if we are to achieve this then we must continue to address the well-documented statistic that buildings account for over 40 per cent of the global energy consumption with commercial premises accounting for more than half of that figure.


It’s also perhaps not surprising that the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on young people and their employment opportunities with global youth employment dropping by 8.7 per cent last year. On top of this, many people of varying ages have experienced serious disruption to their training or education while embarking on a new career, stymying their progression and fostering feelings of uncertainty over future prospects.

However, while there is still some way to go, there are now signs that the economic recovery is gathering pace and organisations are once again looking towards the future and bringing through the next generation of skilled workers. The introduction of higher apprenticeships has boosted take-up amongst qualified individuals who recognise the ever-expanding range of opportunities to learn vital occupational skills and acquire industry recognised qualifications that will put them firmly on the path towards a fulfilling and rewarding career.

For employers, taking on an apprentice should be viewed as an investment in the future of the organisation – an ideal opportunity to address skills gaps, upskill the workforce and prepare for the challenges and opportunities that may lie ahead. Investing in a workforce helps to retain talent and apprentices gain the all-important skills and knowledge needed to drive businesses forward, taking on the values of the company and contributing to the development of a confident, dynamic workforce with future-ready skills. Businesses that have previously taken on apprentices recognise the value they can offer and the swift return on investment that can be achieved.


Modern legislation and environmental targets have made good building management a priority and Group Horizon’s Junior Energy Manager apprenticeship programme has been designed to help organisations meet sustainability commitments by reducing energy consumption and reducing costs, as well as contributing towards the UK’s target of net zero carbon by 2050. Due to the rise of the cost of energy the UK will become one of the most competitive market places for energy management skills over the next five to seven years. With a major shortage of trained energy managers, this apprenticeship will help to address the need for basic in-house energy management skills which can benefit organisations and lead to long term savings.

Liam Doughty, from Gateshead, previously worked in FM before starting a new role as an Energy Technician within Gateshead Council. Doughty did not have any previous background within the energy industry, so he took up the Junior Energy Management apprenticeship opportunity, a move that he is now reaping the benefits from. Doughty said: “The qualification has provided me with a massive opportunity allowing me to not only progress with my knowledge and skills in the energy industry but help me move forward in my career. The training has provided me with a foundation to start within the energy industry, allowing me to then further my education in this field.”


Next generation of Building Controls Engineers will also be key drivers in evolving technologies. As the world strives to reduce its carbon footprint, the importance of efficient building management continues to grow, and one of the results of this is that the technology that goes into buildings, such as Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), whether new-build or retrofit, is becoming more advanced than ever. Consequently, there is now a huge demand for trained and qualified engineers to install this technology.

For anyone looking to embark on a career as a BEMS Controls Engineer, Group Horizon now offers a three-year technical training programme. The BEMS Controls Engineer Apprenticeship has been designed to address an industry-wide shortage of BEMS Controls Engineers and includes a series of classroom and/or online sessions covering the technical theory which is included in the BCIA technical course modules BCM00 – BCM15.

Zach Stanley, an apprentice with Kendra Energy, said: “The hours of learning are in my hands and I can control it. I am able to attend site with another engineer each day and learn a different skill or different part of the system and it is amazing that I am able to have a job and learn at the same time.”

There is clearly plenty of momentum behind the apprenticeship movement and whether you are looking to take on an apprentice or to start an apprenticeship yourself, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

About Sarah OBeirne

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