Skills and training will be key to hitting net zero goals: report

Industry and government must link up to ensure that the workforce has the skills to deliver the necessary infrastructure for net zero, a report has said.

Towards Net Zero, released by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), mapped out how in pursuit of the 2050 net zero target, the UK must deploy a range of technologies to decarbonise the industrial and energy sectors. This includes carbon capture and hydrogen. The engineering construction industry, due to being responsible for designing, installation and maintaining industry plant and infrastructure, stands to play a key role in hitting climate goals. The report looked at the implications of decarbonisation for the industry, including the potential for over £40bn in revenues by 2050 and a series of critical challenges that will have to be met if the switch to low carbon technologies is to be made.

Despite the UK PLC having many of the skills required to deploy these technologies, the report warned of notable gaps in areas including CO2 pipeline monitoring, production of synthetic fuels and repurposing of salt caverns for hydrogen storage. There are also uncertainties surrounding the number of workers required and the timeframe for their deployment. This could lead to skill shortages.

The report made a series of recommendations of how the ECITB and government can work with the engineering construction industry to minimise the disruption caused by the shift and harness the opportunities provided by net zero. These include identifying and closing skills gaps; minimising skill shortages; and leveraging policy and innovation. On the latter, it explained linking education and industry more closely at regional level is a must, so that government policy and educators reflect local skills needs.

Chris Claydon, ECITB Chief Executive, said: “Engineering construction is a dynamic industry and the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies in recent years shows industry can successfully adapt to transform big challenges into great opportunities. If we are to meet our climate change targets, we need a vibrant and skilled contracting industry to successfully deliver the technologies and infrastructure required to decarbonise industrial sites and processes.”