Coventry training scheme stops energy bills going through the roof
February 29, 2024

Coventry training scheme stops energy bills going through the roof

Rob Malvern, Supervisor at Dyson Energy Services, Leanne Abbott, Commercial Skills Manager at Coventry College, Donna Milliner, Retrofit Officer at Citizen, Emma Ingram Head of Employer Engagement at Coventry College and Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change

A training and employment scheme designed to help the West Midlands go green and stop energy bills going though the roof has made a positive impact in the region by reskilling local people and employing them to work on one of the city’s largest social housing improvement projects.

Thanks to £23.9 million pounds of funding secured by Coventry City Council and Citizen, the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) project aims to help over 2,000 of the city’s most vulnerable and low-income families reduce their energy bills.

In 2023 Coventry College secured funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department of Education to deliver a series of Green Skills Insulation Bootcamps. The two-week Bootcamps delivered a range of retrofit insulation skills and knowledge to upskill the regional workforce in support of the government’s net zero agenda.

Working in partnership with Dyson Energy Services, a leading national installer of insulation, renewable and heating measures to domestic homes, Coventry College provided training on a range of insulation measures including cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, and external wall insulation.

Since the scheme was launched over 50 adult learners have been trained and over 600 homes have been renovated. Many of the learners were unemployed and were recruited from referral networks across the West Midlands including the National Careers Service, Job Centre Plus and Coventry Job Shop.

Upon completion of the Bootcamp, candidates were interviewed and offered employment with Dyson Energy Services. Two of the successful candidates, Daniel Falcnoer, 21 and Adam Breagan, 29, underwent further training and are now working as Insulation Technicians for Dyson on the SHDF project in Coventry city.

Daniel from Coventry had been unemployed since the age of 16 before enrolling onto the Bootcamp. He talks about how he is proud of what he’s achieved:

“If it wasn’t for the Insulation Skills Bootcamp, I would never have known about the energy efficiency industry and the career opportunities. I’m proud to be helping to improve the energy efficiency of homes in local communities I have grown up in and helping people to lower their energy bills.”

In partnership with local social housing provider, Citizen, Coventry City Council were successful in applying for £23.9 million pounds of funding from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero to support plans to upgrade the energy efficiency of over 2,000 homes in Coventry. It’s currently estimated that 105,000 homes in Coventry are below Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C.

The property upgrades address key priorities for the Council and will support residents to reduce their energy consumption and bills and help them stay warm and comfortable in their homes. The work is predominately to improve insulation and ventilation of a property including, cavity and external wall insulation, increased loft insulation and improving ventilation to reduce the potential for mould growth.

A Net Zero Route Map Report, commissioned by the Council, suggests that business as usual will only reduce domestic emissions by 0.2% by 2050. By undertaking the project, the Council aim to help to reduce fuel poverty and domestic carbon emissions, which currently account for 30% of the city’s total emissions.

Growing up, learner Adam Breagan remembers how cold the flat was that he shared with his grandma. He comments on how his new career; helping the vulnerable, gives him the “feel good factor.”

“Attending the Insulation Bootcamp and joining Dyson Energy Services has been career changing for me. Being able to help communities very similar to the ones I was raised in has such a rewarding feeling – that feeling of making a difference.

Adam went on to say, “The bootcamp was a good way of showing people there is an avenue into the industry. I had no skills and qualifications in this area prior to going to Coventry College, but now through training at Dyson Energy Services, am thrilled to have recently successfully passed my NVQ Diploma in Insulation and Building Treatments in Construction.”

Ian Morrall, Managing Director at Dyson Energy Services said:

“We recognise and appreciate the importance of our relationships with Citizen and Coventry College. As a business, we’ve always played our part in helping to educate potential new employees to understand the opportunities that lay ahead, as well as the important part they can play in helping to reduce the domestic carbon emissions. Thus, leading towards the government’s overall target to net zero by 2050.”

Ian went on to say, “We’re delighted with the progress Daniel and Adam have made with Dyson Energy Services and look forward to seeing their future careers develop.

“In addition to this, we’re looking forward to welcoming more recruits in the near future.”

Director of Asset Management at Citizen, Bridget Guilfoyle, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Coventry College, Dyson Energy Services and Coventry City Council to help train the next generation of people who will be retrofitting our homes.

“It’s fantastic to hear from Adam and Daniel about how much the training has benefitted them. At Citizen we work with our partners to make a positive difference to our customers and communities and this partnership has helped to train the next generation of retrofitters. We are delighted to be part of a project which supports people to learn skills in retrofitting on the job.

“We’re also really proud that we were successful with Coventry City Council in our bid for wave two of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund which helps us deliver more energy efficient homes for our customers.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change, at Coventry City Council, said: “It’s vital that we look at every opportunity to help people develop new green skills and this is an ideal scheme especially as the need to retrofit and design more sustainable homes will grow and grow.

“As a city we are taking all the right steps to lead on the green industrial revolution and this partnership between Coventry College, Citizen and Dyson is really positive. I’m delighted that local students are benefitting.”

Speaking about the scheme Gemma Knott, Vice Principal for Business Growth, Engagement and Partnerships at Coventry College said: “We’re delighted to have worked with key stakeholders in the city to provide training opportunities that help bridge the national and regional skills gaps, raise awareness of careers in green skills and provide employment opportunities for our local residents.”

She added,

“The fact that our learners, and the work they are now doing is making an impact their own community – helping people to reduce their energy bills during the cost-of-living crisis, is just remarkable.

“We’re looking forward to the future opportunities this collaborative approach will bring for our community, employers and residents.

“The Bootcamps offer excellent routes to employment and truly make a positive impact to our community.”

Designed for those employed in the Construction sector and looking to upskill or those that are unemployed, living in the West Midlands area and looking for a career in green skills, the Bootcamps are part of a wider aim of the College to help local employers to meet their training and development needs and shape the future labour force in the region with training happening throughout the year.