Renewable energy training academy secures investment

Monday September 25th 2023

ETA training centre

The Energy Training Academy training centre in Hardengreen.


Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

The Energy Training Academy (ETA), a Dalkeith-based social enterprise that provides high-quality training and education in the gas and renewables industry, has secured £300,000 investment from the Catalyst Fund. The investment will help ETA address a looming skills shortage in engineers trained to install air source heat pumps and other renewables technology.

The Energy Training Academy was launched early this year by two experienced founders – Andrew Lamond and Mark Glasgow. Having previously set up and run successful boiler installation and maintenance companies, Andrew and Mark spotted an unaddressed critical skills gap for engineers trained to install air source heat pumps and other renewables technology in domestic and commercial premises in Scotland.

Heat pumps play a vital role in achieving the Scottish Government’s aim of removing fossil fuels from heating in more than a million homes by 2030 as part of its Net Zero strategy. But currently, there aren’t enough trained heat pumps engineers to meet the demand.

According to the Scotland’s Retrofit Workforce report unveiled last week by the Just Transition Commission, an additional 22,500 FTE workers will be needed in Scotland by 2028, to deliver improvements to existing buildings that will reduce energy demand. That represents an increase of around 9% of the current size of the workforce. This is compounded by the fact that the sector also faces an ageing workforce, with 50,000 workers expected to retire in the next ten years. To achieve its long-term net-zero targets, Scotland needs to retrain all existing engineers and develop thousands of new ones.

Mark and Andrew chose to start the Energy Training Academy as a social enterprise to help young people, veterans, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds gain highly marketable skills in the new green economy. The Academy will work with construction companies to ensure that they have the workforce needed to deliver their projects and with schools and colleges to reach young people looking to learn a trade.

As a social enterprise start-up needing flexible investment, they approached the Catalyst Fund for support. Delivered by Scotland’s social enterprise agency Firstport, the Catalyst Fund is a £15m fund backed by the Scottish Government. It provides flexible finance for ambitious social enterprises making a positive social or environmental impact.

Daisy Ford-Downes, Head of Group Investment Programmes at Firstport, said, “We’re excited to back experienced entrepreneurs like Andrew and Mark, who are choosing social entrepreneurship as a way to make an impact. They’ve assembled a fantastic team and have a brilliant market opportunity in front of them. With this investment, the Energy Training Academy will be able to roll out their training programmes, making a huge impact on people’s lives and the decarbonisation challenge.”

Andrew Lamond, Director at ETA, said: “We are delighted that The Energy Training Academy has been awarded significant funding from the Catalyst Fund. This marks an important milestone in our journey towards creating a community-focused energy training facility.

The funding will help us achieve our ambitious goal of enhancing skills and employment opportunities in South East Scotland while simultaneously helping our community work towards a greener future by embracing the net-zero transition. With this support, we are poised to make a real and lasting impact, and we are excited to embark on this exciting journey with the backing of Firstport.”

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “Social enterprises like the Energy Training Academy (ETA) can play an important role in providing people with the training and skills needed for the green jobs of the future that will drive forward Scotland’s net zero ambitions.

“That is why the Scottish Government is supporting initiatives like the Catalyst Fund, which provide innovative social investment enabling ETA to further build on the good work being done to identify and fill any gaps in the in the gas and renewables industry. The £300,000 investment will help more people, businesses and communities benefit from Scotland’s renewables revolution.”

The Catalyst Fund offers loans starting at £50,000. It uses a revenue-based repayment model that provides social enterprises with flexible finance without compromising their social mission. Its innovative funding mechanism means that social entrepreneurs repay the investment via a share of their revenue as their businesses grow.

The Catalyst Fund is open for Expressions of Interest. For more information, visit the Firstport website.

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