RECHARGE UK calls on government to address EV skills gap

With Tata recently confirming plans to build a new Gigafactory in the UK and providing up to 4,000 direct jobs, RECHARGE UK is urging government to address the green EV jobs skills gap.

New report ‘Charging Forward to 2030’ by RECHARGE UK, which is the EV arm of the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology), provides a roadmap of how the industry can accelerate chargepoint deployment to keep up with the growth of EV sales in the UK.

The report, which was launched at an event in Westminster last week, highlights the need to rapidly improve grid connections and address the skills gap.

RECHARGE UK believe a key issue across the EV industry going forward will be a lack of skilled professionals who are able to install and maintain charging infrastructure or maintain and repair electric vehicles.

As the charging industry is expected to increase chargepoint numbers from over 40,000 charge points today to the Government’s target of 300,000 by 2030, the limited skills pool will be severely under-resourced to manage the rising number of charge point installations and charge point manufacturing. In addition, there will be an increasing workload involved in maintaining charge points once installed.

Matthew Adams, Transport Policy Manager the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) said: “With the announcement that Tata have agreed to invest £4bn in the UK to build a new gigafactory providing up to 4,000 direct jobs, the recommendations in this report need to be implemented as soon as possible. EV infrastructure from chargepoints to gigafactories must be prioritised in grid connection queues to maximise EV availability and adoption, which will realise the greatest carbon savings.

“It is clear therefore, that the Government must launch a green jobs campaign that provides opportunities for new entrants to the job market and empowers the existing workforce to upskill and retrain for the significant opportunities that are available to them, especially given announcements like Tata’s. RECHARGE UK will be producing a skills report in November which will provide more details on how to harness the existing skilled workforce and young talent who want green jobs across the electric and low carbon fuels sectors.

“By 2030 there is expected to be a shortfall of 25,100 EV-trained TechSafe technicians. The Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy so that a portion of unspent Levy funds could go toward priority training areas, including electrification, decarbonisation and digitalisation.”

Mark Constable, Chair of RECHARGE UK, said: “Most of the net zero transition over the next decade won’t be delivered by people who are currently working in the clean transport and energy sectors. Instead, it will be largely delivered by people who are currently in other jobs or are still in education – people who are just setting out on their career path.

“So there needs to be a holistic approach to the influx of skills needed across all age ranges and across all backgrounds, to help them get into the industry and ultimately help get the UK over the finishing line.’’

Speaking at the launch of the report last week, Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the REA said: “Bridging the EV skills gap is key. There are so many papers talking about green jobs but our ‘Charging Forward to 2030’ report homes in on what the skills gaps are when delivering EV infrastructure. The Government has said it wants 300,000 charge points to be put in by 2030, but we have a limited skills pool to draw upon.

“RECHARGE UK urges the Government, the education sector, and the electric vehicle sector to work together and urgently establish courses that can be used to capture the energy of young people who are passionate about mitigating climate change whilst also upskilling the existing workforce. This will deliver a just transition, that provides opportunities for all, regardless of background, and infrastructure built to the standard and quality that society deserves.

“All political parties in the run up to the next General Election should consider how to address the green skills gaps in the EV sector and demonstrate to the public why these roles are exciting, worthwhile, and valuable.”

Gavin Newlands MP (SNP, Vice Chair of EV APPG, Transport Committee) said: “This is all down to a just transition. In Scotland, we are continually talking about a just transition from the oil and gas sector to a green industrial future, and Scotland is well placed to serve a lot of that. Scotland is now considering “How do we transition workers in the old industries and turn them into workers in the new industries?” I am not quite sure the UK Government has got to that point yet and if it is, it is getting there incredibly slowly. UK Government needs to have a real look at how we get workers out of the old, heavy industries that we still have and into the new industries that are clearly going to be around for generations to come. We need a clear strategy to transition.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently confirmed plans to limit the number of places available on university courses with lower levels of post-graduation employment. Responding to this, Mr Newlands added: “If you are trying to refocus some of these efforts from higher education and tailor further education to apprenticeships and skills, then that must surely be targeted at growing industries as we push for net zero such as the EV sector.”

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