The British Gas Green Skills Training Centre in Tredegar, South Wales, was officially opened this morning by Welsh Assembly Government First Minister Carwyn Jones.
The centre is a first for the UK and aims to train over 1,300 people each year, including local long term unemployed people. The Heads of the Valleys has the lowest employment rate in Wales – 64%, compared with 71% nationally.
Developed in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, JobMatch, Jobcentre Plus, SummitSkills and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, the state of the art centre will offer training and qualifications for would-be energy efficiency assessors, installers of new green technologies as well as upskilling opportunities for British Gas engineers.
British Gas managing director Gearóid Lane said: “This fantastic new facility is a blueprint for British Gas’ wider ambition to be the hub around which communities benefit from upskilling, green living and improvements in household comfort and energy affordability.”
“We are investing heavily in this rapidly growing sector through the creation of thousands of smart meter and insulation engineer jobs. But we also want to help equip local people with the skills to deliver these emerging technologies in the communities where they live.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The British Gas Green Skills Training Centre presents an excellent opportunity to support Wales’ green energy potential. Earlier this year we launched our Green Jobs Strategy for Wales, which aims to develop skilled jobs for local people and the centre will play an important role in key part helping to achieve this.”
About the centre
The centre features fully functioning heating installations, energy efficient and microgeneration technologies which are housed in specially designed bungalows − from those with ‘single brick’ construction through to less common timber framed properties.
The Centre aims to provide the best possible hands-on practice and experience which reflect the challenges trainees could encounter as qualified energy assessors or installation engineers.
Among the rapidly growing green technologies on show at the Centre are smart gas and electricity meters, Solar Thermal panels, Solar Photovoltaic panels which generate hot water and electricity, state of the art combined heat and power boilers which use waste heat to generate power, and ground-source heat pumps.
Welsh Assembly regneration employment manager and JobMatch leader Rachel Moxey said: “JobMatch is proving its effectiveness in helping people in the Heads of the Valleys area into long-term sustainable employment and this facility will increase training opportunities in a new and promising sector.
“The regeneration of former industrial areas is creating new employment opportunities and it is vital that we have the trained people who are willing and able to fill those jobs. Working in partnership, the Green Skills Training Centre will be able to provide tailored support to jobseekers to enable long term benefit to individuals and the local economy.”
Jobcentre Plus customer service director for Wales Linda Badman said: “Jobcentre Plus is committed to providing a tailor-made service to help people into work and, as part of that, we work with our partners to identify relevant training needs for individuals. We look forward to helping jobseekers in the South Wales Valleys make the most of opportunities through the new Green Skills Training Centre.”
Blaenau Gwent Council leader Des Hillman said: “Our vision is to transform Blaenau Gwent into a centre for 21st century learning, training and skills. This is one of the reasons that the Green Skills Training Centre – a first in Wales and the UK – is joining us as part of our Heads of the Valleys regeneration drive.”
SummitSkills CEO Keith Marshall said: “Future jobs and employment in the emerging green economy depend on being able to access training for the new skills that will be required. The Green Skills Training Centre will play a key role in ensuring that this capability is developed. As a direct result, energy suppliers will be able to become more positive in promoting the green agenda to consumers and also acting as trailblazers for green skills.”
52-year-old David Thomas from Ebbw Vale worked for various companies in the automotive industry for over 30 years before he was made redundant in February 2009.
Unable to find permanent work, David was put in touch with a JobMatch consultant. David was keen to try something new and at the recommendation of his consultant, enrolled to do a City & Guilds course in Energy Awareness at the British Gas Green Skills Training Centre in Tredegar. He was one of the first students to complete their training at the Centre.
David completed the three day course with flying colours and is already thinking about what other courses he can do at the Centre to help him find a new job.
“I really enjoyed the course – it was good to do something new. My previous jobs have been a mixture of quality and environmental control, as well as customer relations, so together with my new qualification, I think I stand a good chance of finding a job within the green technology industry – I’ve already started applying for jobs so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”