Whilst many know the IOR as a technical organisation that produces papers and talks on innovation, it is increasingly addressing the area of skills as a critical piece of the net zero puzzle.

Our Net Zero Skills group have recently produced a draft specification for the additional knowledge, skills and behaviours required for those working in or with RACHP equipment to support new technologies and ways of working. This skills spec will sit alongside a Policy Brief, designed to identify what fiscal incentives and legislation are required to support a sea-change in the sector's attitude to skills.  It also supplements and builds on the fundamental skills identified by employers in the "trailblazer" Apprenticeship specification for Technicians.

Many of skills initiatives in the RACHP sector are based on a minimum standard - such as the F Gas handling which is the only legally mandated qualification covering refrigeration. Often there is a misunderstanding that "all you need to work in the sector is an F Gas certificate". That attitude needs to change.  Whilst it is illegal to handle refrigerants without the F gas individual and company certificate in the UK, it is becoming increasingly clear that employers and users expect technicians to have a much higher level of expertise and a commitment to continuing professional development.

This brings us to the latest IOR Skills Spec - at the moment it is a draft being issued for consultation and comment.    The purpose of the spec is to describe the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to develop the best people and skills in order to make significant progress in reducing carbon emissions from heating and cooling equipment. Thus it supports our Beyond Refrigeration critical issues that need to be addressed. These areas are in addition to current occupational experience or qualifications. They are not designed to replace current apprenticeship or other vocational/professional training but to supplement it, particularly designed to help the existing workforce review their knowledge, employers to update skills and end users to improve their contract specifications.

The net zero skills specification addresses the different needs of three distinct roles: equipment operators, designers and technicians (technicians includes all those involved in service, maintenance and installation jobs).  It is quite generic so that it can be relevant to those working with any application or sector and is not equipment or technology specific. But it is only a proposal at the moment - and it is our sector, and their commitment to net zero, efficiency and energy reduction that will make it live.  We invite and encourage anyone who is an employer, who is working these roles or who offers training to consider the proposals outlined in the spec and make suggestions how they could be used to support training and development activity in the future.

Download the skill spec consultation here. 

Please respond by 21st April with your views.