There is much in the news and trade press about the anticipated growth in the use of heat pumps and the issues around the need for more skilled installers. Whilst there are currently government-backed schemes and in some cases subsidies for training, this is focused primarily on helping trades such as heating engineers and plumbers to install heat pump systems. 

Heat pump installation crosses over a large number of traditional jobs and roles and customers are often unsure as to whether they should be contacting heating, plumbing or refrigeration companies. 

An IOR education working group is asking whether the existing RAC qualified or experienced technicians are ready for this increasing need for installers and the likely additional need for service and maintenance work once equipment has been operating for some time. In the past, domestic heat pumps installed for water heating for example have not been an area of particular interest for the refrigeration expert who is more focused on commercial applications such as heat pumps for water chillers or large scale industrial projects. However, with the likely market changes the domestic, housing association and small commercial heat pump markets represent an opportunity - particularly as current installers might not familiar with the refrigeration aspect of such equipment.  On the other hand, there are many companies that have been operating both heat pump and air conditioning for many years and have a lot of experience in these areas.

To explore in more detail what the skills needs will be to help prepare the refrigeration sector for the wider adoption of heat pump technologies the IOR is carrying out a survey (see link below). This covers questions such as what critical knowledge and skills are needed to make the most of heat pumps and what additional skills a refrigeration expert (who holds an FGas or NVQ/Level 2 qualification) might need, as well as how it would be best to offer upskilling in areas such as water pressures, flow rates and controls.

One of the potential outcomes of this work could be an outline for a CPD (Continued Professional Development) course that training providers or accreditation bodies might offer as a short course in the future or for in-house training and development of existing technical staff.

Please share your views in the survey below, or if you have more detailed comments to make on skills for heat pumps please contact us here. We are also looking for contributors to our working group with experience of managing heat pump operatives to help steer this work in the future.

Start the survey here