A new report released by Energy Systems Catapult has highlighted a severe lack of diversity in the heating industry workforce with women accounting for only 2% and just 5% with an ethnic minority background.
Increasing diversity in the heating sector to address the skills shortage and meet Net Zero highlights that this major diversity issue impacting the heating industry could prove to be an opportunity. By increasing recruitment and increasing employees with a diverse background, a real change can happen and address industry skill shortages.
This could be influential in achieving net zero targets for the industry and bolster the sector’s efforts.
The research pointed out several key needs for women and ethnic minorities entering or staying in the heating sector. This includes increased availability and awareness of fair job opportunities, the option to train and work flexibility, as well as being involved in a healthy and inclusive environment where they feel a sense of belonging.
“The latest data indicates that the median age of heating engineers today is 55, meaning many professionals will – over the coming decade – leave the workforce. This coupled with the large skills gap means that the heating sector is on a cliff edge. We must tap into a broader talent pool and bring more women and ethnic minorities into the fold,” said Dr. Vivien Kizilcec, consumer research manager at Energy Systems Catapult and co-author of the report.
“The report points to clear actions we can take to overcome the many barriers to entry that individuals face when exploring a career in the heating sector. From making recruitment content more inclusive and accessible to providing inclusive work environments and physical spaces, there are a number of tangible actions, not tokenistic interventions that we can make.”
One of the biggest instigators of this lack of diversity is access to adequate training for both women and men. According to the report, financial barriers and a lack of flexible working continues to limit access for women and ethnic minorities. Training can often be expensive and available funding for this appears to be low.
When individuals are able to gain access to training, they are often presented with a lack of flexibility in the timing of scheduling of courses meaning many are seeing barriers put in place to prevent them furthering their careers.
In a bid to solve these issues, the report outlined a number of ways in which the diversity issue could be solved. This includes calling on employers, industry bodies, training providers, and political bodies to increase the availability and awareness of fair job opportunities, tailor training to individual’s needs, prior experiences, and ambitions and also tackle discrimination to achieve a healthy and inclusive environment.
“By employing a more diverse workforce, organisations can gain knowledge and extra skills that can help them reach new customers and offer additional services, as well as drive down implicit bias. Increasing the diversity of the workforce will therefore be crucial in the transition towards low-carbon heating,” Kizilcec said.