Kara Tomes-Meek, Head of Sustainability, reflects on her time at the Housing 23 Conference where she spoke about what skills and training are needed to deliver net zero. Read her article below.
There is currently a large short-fall in the skills required to deliver our retro-fit and net zero targets, but equally there are lots of training and upskilling opportunities available to help narrow that gap.
So, what’s our approach at Southern Housing? I shared our three bitesize areas of focus.
1. Upskilling the Island
We have around 3,500 homes on the Isle of Wight and a return ferry during peak time is about £100. That’s a lot of additional cost to deliver retrofit programmes in line with PAS2035 requirements.
To overcome this we’re working in collaboration with Ambue, supporting CIC Future Isle of Wight and ERMC to help upskill the residents on the island in PAS2035 professional services and also PA2030 certification for local contractors.
Upskilling is intrinsically linked with collaboration and along with our partners we are working with local builders’ merchants who have committed to providing a site office for contractors, and a retrofit training bootcamp designed for island residents.
2. Upskilling staff
We’ve also taken full advantage of training provided by The Retrofit Academy to upskill colleagues to Retrofit Adviser, Assessor and Co-ordinator levels. Although they’re not carrying out these roles formally, the training has given them the skills and confidence needed to understand and ensure that PAS2035 is delivered correctly.
Green skills don’t stop at organisation’s sustainability teams. We’ve been working across departments at Southern Housing with a mix of surveyors and project managers to identify on-the-ground practical training. This was delivered by The Green Register and focused on the operational side of retrofitting traditional buildings.
3. Upskilling residents
We took inspiration from the Social Housing Tenant’s Climate Jury publication last year and created a cohort of resident sustainability champions. The role of our champions is to support other residents through their retrofit works and other sustainability related projects. As part of this initiative, we offer our residents free upskilling opportunities starting with Retrofit Advisor courses and continuing from there. We also offer a level 2 certificate in climate change and environmental awareness.
We recently conducted a sustainability survey with our residents and received a high level of responses. We have a real opportunity to engage with our residents on this topic and they want to collaborate with us. I believe that we have the potential to bring our residents fully on-board in this journey and not just for retrofitting homes, but to meet the skills required to deliver net zero.
In conclusion, there isn’t a one size fits all solution, but a holistic approach harnessing collaboration as this can’t be achieved in silo. If you find yourself unclear of where to start Unlock Net Zero and The Social Housing Retrofit Accelerator are great introductory points and try the other links throughout this article.
Finally, I am a big ambassador of sharing solutions across Housing Associations and encourage us all to ‘buddy up’, because we all need to cross the net zero line together.