Greg Barker key note speech at launch of Green Deal Skills Alliance

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Check against delivery I’d like to thank the Green Deal Skills Alliance for inviting me to this event, which formally launches their partnership…

Check against delivery

I’d like to thank the Green Deal Skills Alliance for inviting me to this event, which formally launches their partnership to help deliver the skills needed to support the Coalition’s Green Deal programme.

I know I don’t have to tell this audience that energy efficiency is pivotal to helping the government achieve our climate change targets and ensuring the UK is able to reduce reliance on imported energy. But more than that, as the price of fossil fuels invariably rise in the future, energy efficiency will help households and businesses stay warm and keep their bills down. For households this means more money in pockets at a difficult time. For businesses it means being more competitive. Around 50% more energy is used to heat and power homes than is used to power UK industry. And more than half of Britain’s homes don’t have sufficient insulation. It has been estimated that 5% of profits every year in UK companies may be lost through inefficient use of resources.

Despite having such clear benefits, the take-up of energy efficiency measures to date has not been as great as it could be. The efficiency of our building stock still lags behind many other countries, and although we are blessed with many older period properties, these are also the ones that often require more care and attention to make them as efficient as they can be whilst maintaining their character.

The Green Deal will break down many of the barriers that have prevented take-up of energy efficiency measures, with the potential for many more properties across Great Britain to benefit. By removing up front cost of energy efficiency measures, households and businesses will be able to repay while they benefit from a warmer property that is cheaper to heat.

With the passing of the Energy Act into statute last October the legal framework for the Green Deal is now set in stone. We are now moving on to the next steps of making the Green Deal a reality. This is about more than legislation. It is about working with the market to deliver a Green Deal that the consumer has confidence in. A Green Deal that will revolutionise the energy efficiency of our nation’s homes and businesses.

We are confident that it will stimulate the economy, revitalising the construction industry and driving growth across the supply chain. We envisage that employment in the green economy will expand significantly.

From one man bands and local authorities, to the big supermarket chains and DIY stores, we want as many assessors, installers and providers to get involved as possible. That way the consumer will get the best deal. The programme is expected to attract capital investment of up to £15 billion in the domestic sector alone in the next decade and at its peak could support 250,000 jobs.

We know that the range of skills that will be needed to deliver this programme effectively is wide - from the most basic installations to the most complex measures and packages, in small dwellings and large commercial premises. For example we need plumbers, electricians and those with construction skills.

We also need independent telephone advice that everyone is able to access and robust assessments for households and businesses, tailored to the property but impartial enough so that customers can shop around.

Yes, this is a big challenge but it is also a big opportunity. I know that a lot of people are worried about whether the sectors of industry can step up to this but we need to be positive. I for one am certain that with your commitment this can be a shining example of how industry communities can respond to a new agenda.

The Green Deal also presents a great opportunity for the young people of this country. The government is strongly committed to improving the skills and employment prospects of our young people. The expansion of the market through the Green Deal will provide excellent opportunities for them to up-skill through apprenticeships and training schemes so they are ready to meet the challenge of this new job market.

Of course the training provision for advisors and installers to ensure they have the necessary skills will be crucial to the success of the Green Deal programme. We are therefore working to ensure that people have the confidence to invest in the training and following that to sign up to the certification schemes that will form part of the framework to protect the consumer.

The Green Deal Skills Alliance and the work that is going on as part of this partnership is an important example of this. Already, each of the respective Sector Skills Councils have been working with my department to deliver some fundamental pieces of the jigsaw.

Green Deal Advisors will be an important first point of contact for many and making sure they have the right skills and competency is crucial to the success of the Green Deal. In this regard, I would particularly like to thank Asset Skills for all the hard work they are doing to develop the standards for Green Deal Advisors, working with a wide range of stakeholders in a short space of time to help ensure a robust training and qualifications framework is in place ahead of the launch of the Green Deal programme.

DECC has also been working closely with the Sector Skills Councils to develop the Green Deal standard for installers and we will continue to work with them to deliver these standards through apprenticeships and training. I would particularly like to thank Construction Skills for all their hard work on this.

The Green Deal is a ‘whole building’ approach that incorporates a wide range of environmental technologies including microgeneration. The work Summit Skills are doing, for example through leading the Skills and Knowledge workstream for the Microgeneration Strategy for England which DECC published last year is instrumental in helping to deliver the expertise required. I would like to thank them for all their hard work in this area.

What has been particularly impressive is the tight timetable to which the Alliance are delivering this work. Their commitment and expertise has been invaluable in helping us deliver the Green Deal.

I would also like to say to those of you who haven’t as yet responded to the Government’s Consultation on the Green Deal that there is still time - you have until the 18th of this month to respond. This is your opportunity to contribute and share your opinions with us. We really would like as many of you to respond as possible to help us make this programme the best it can possibly be.

I know that today’s event is just one of a series of what have so far been incredibly successful events organised by the Green Deal Skills Alliance to help raise the awareness of the skills required under the Green Deal. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you well for the remaining events.