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National Retrofit Conference highlights pressing need for skilled workforce as award winners lead the way

The pressing need for a skilled retrofit workforce was once again the topic of much industry debate at the UK’s inaugural National Retrofit Conference, which took place at London’s ExCeL last week.

Curated by The Retrofit Academy, the three-day Conference, in partnership with Futurebuild saw policymakers, industry leaders and other interested parties share their views on the best retrofit practice that will accelerate progress toward a more sustainable future.

Day one of the Conference was focused on Retrofit Policy, Programmes and Leadership with keynote speakers such as Lord Martin Callanan, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero. Discussing the Government’s plans to help decarbonise 27 million homes, Callanan and the wider panel outlined how the industry can support the Government’s plans to retrofit homes at scale.

The Retrofit Academy also launched a proposed Retrofit Workforce Roadmap to highlight specifically how the business intends to train and upskill thousands of individuals to join the retrofit revolution within the next five years. This year, The Retrofit Academy will be opening a consultation with local government and industry professionals with the aim of agreeing a collaborative roadmap geared towards achieving this goal.

The second day of the Conference saw the focus shift to an exploration of how the Government and industry is rising to the challenge of decarbonising 27 million homes.

Multiple panel discussions addressed topics such as keeping residents at the heart of the process and the importance of creating a close team of PAS 2035 professionals capable of delivering the quality required. One of the sessions, ‘Developing our Workforce and Growing the Supply Chain’ was chaired by David Pierpoint, CEO of The Retrofit Academy, and enabled the audience to understand in real terms the approaches they can take to develop their own partnerships capable of delivering high-quality retrofit successfully.

Finally, the third day of the Conference concluded with a focus on Unblocking Skills and Unlocking Innovation. This included the panel discussion on ‘Retrofit at Scale’ chaired by Loreana Padron, Associate Director at ECD Architects where the shortage of retrofit-literate architects and design professionals was addressed. The discussion followed Loreana’s contribution to The Retrofit Academy’s Domestic Retrofit Designer course. Developed by over 20 leading industry professionals over an 18-month period, the new course will help to address this skills gap by upskilling architects and design professionals around retrofit design best practice.

Speaking about the event, Pierpoint said: “The UK’s very first National Retrofit Conference was a huge success. During the three-day event, multiple industries were able to come together and discuss ways that we can tackle the challenges we face, all the way from MPs to those on the ground conducting the work. In a conference arena that was twice the size of last year, and with the apparent lack of empty seats, it was evident that the industry is really engaging with retrofit and the challenge at hand. Our team was able to have multiple meaningful conversations with interested individuals looking to upskill into retrofit and help become part of the solution, especially those looking to become retrofit designers.

“As a partner to the event, we were able to shine the light on vital topics such as tackling the skills gap through our Retrofit Workforce Roadmap and how we are striving to qualify competent professionals to complete projects to the PAS 2035 standard. At the 2025 National Retrofit Conference, it will be amazing to measure the progress made and see how far we have come in achieving net zero.”

The Retrofit Academy Awards

Day one of the conference concluded with this year’s The Retrofit Academy Awards which celebrated both individuals and businesses making significant effort to help decarbonise the UK housing stock. The full list of 11 award winners is as follows:

  • Retrofit Coordinator of the Year: Sarsvati Varsani from Equans UK & Ireland
  • Retrofit Assessor of the Year: Paul Sheridan from Severn Wye Energy Agency Ltd.
  • Retrofit Designer of the Year: Guy Price from Fineline Architectural Design Ltd.
  • Retrofit Graduate of the Year: Roger Thomson
  • Retrofit Installer of the Year: Cardo Group
  • Retrofit Contractor of the Year: Sustainable Building Services (UK) Ltd.
  • Retrofit Assessment and Coordination Service of the Year: Crawford & Co. Surveyors
  • Best Local Authority-Led Retrofit Programme of the Year: Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
  • Best Social Housing-Led Retrofit Programme of the Year: Citizen Housing &  Stroud District Council (joint winners)
  • Best Retrofit Social Value Award: Acivico Group
  • Best Employer Award: Rider Levett Bucknall & Sustainable Building Services (UK) Ltd. (joint winners)

Commenting further on the Awards, Pierpoint added: “All of the individuals and businesses who took home awards are setting the standard for how retrofit should be conducted to achieve high quality results and pleased residents. They are showing those interested in a career in retrofit what could be achieved and how this booming industry has so much to offer those who upskill into it. Throughout the next year, all these people and businesses will go on to decarbonise the UK housing stock and lead the way for others to become next year’s nominees.”

FM Tech Survey 2024 

Service Works Global (SWG) is conducting research in partnership with FMJ, to find out how you are using technology in your role through a short survey.

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The survey should take just 5-10 minutes of your time, and as a thank you, participants will be entered into a prize draw where one lucky winner will be picked at random to receive an iPad 10th Generation worth £499.

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