From education to employment

Green Skills Needed by Plumbing, Heating, and Electrical Employers in 2024

Maria Gonella

To transition to a greener economy, plumbing, heating, and electrical sectors need green skills like water conservation, renewable energy systems, and smart grid technology. The UK’s initiatives are compared to global trends, emphasising the urgency for targeted education and training to meet rising demand.

The Evolving Green Skills Landscape in Plumbing, Heating, and Electrical Sectors: UK and Global Perspectives

The transition to a greener economy is accelerating, necessitating the rapid development and integration of green skills across various sectors, including plumbing, heating, and electrical industries. This article explores the most up-to-date green skills required by these sectors, comparing the specific needs of the UK with global trends.

The Imperative for Green Skills

As the world faces unprecedented challenges due to climate change, the urgency for green skills in the workforce has never been clearer. The change adapting to sustainable practices is not just an environmental necessity but also an economic opportunity. According to the UK’s ” UK Parliament Postnote 711: Green Skills in education and employment,” green skills are vital for achieving the nation’s net-zero goals. The report emphasises that the plumbing, heating, and electrical sectors are pivotal in reducing carbon emissions and enhancing energy efficiency.

Globally, the LinkedIn “Green Skills Report 2023” highlights that the demand for green skills is outpacing supply. Between 2022 and 2023, job postings requiring at least one green skill grew by 22.4%, while the share of green talent in the workforce increased by only 12.3%​​. This disparity underscores the imminent green skills shortage and the urgent need for targeted skill development initiatives.

Green Skills in Plumbing

In the plumbing industry, the shift towards eco-friendly technologies and practices is evident. The integration of green plumbing involves the use of water-efficient systems, renewable energy sources, and sustainable materials.

Key green skills required in this sector include:

  • Water Conservation Techniques: Plumbers need to be proficient in installing and maintaining low-flow fixtures, greywater systems, and rainwater harvesting systems. These skills are crucial in reducing water consumption and managing water resources sustainably.
  • Renewable Energy Systems: Knowledge of solar thermal systems and heat pumps is increasingly important. Plumbers must be able to install and service these systems to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Sustainable Material Selection: Understanding the environmental impact of materials and choosing sustainable alternatives is essential. This includes using recyclable and non-toxic materials for plumbing installations.

Green Skills in Heating

The heating industry is undergoing significant changes with the adoption of energy-efficient and renewable heating solutions. The UK government has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making green skills in this sector critical.

Important skills include:

  • Heat Pump Installation and Maintenance: Proficiency in ground-source and air-source heat pumps is vital. These systems are more energy-efficient than traditional heating methods and play a key role in reducing carbon emissions.
  • Biomass Heating Systems: Skills in installing and maintaining biomass boilers are increasingly in demand. These systems use organic materials and contribute to sustainable heating solutions.
  • Energy Efficiency Audits: The ability to conduct energy efficiency audits and recommend improvements is crucial. Heating engineers need to identify areas where energy can be saved and implement measures to enhance efficiency.

Green Skills in Electrical

The electrical industry is at the forefront of the green transition, with a strong focus on renewable energy and smart technologies.

Electricians must develop new skills to meet the growing requirement for sustainable energy solutions:

  • Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems: Installing and maintaining solar PV systems is a key skill. Electricians need to understand system design, installation procedures, and maintenance practices to ensure optimal performance.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Infrastructure: As electric vehicles become more prevalent, electricians must be proficient in installing and maintaining EV charging stations. This includes understanding the electrical requirements and safety standards.
  • Smart Grid Technology: Knowledge of smart grids and energy storage systems is essential. Electricians need to be able to integrate these technologies into existing electrical networks to improve efficiency and reliability.

Comparing the UK’s Needs with Global Trends

The UK’s focus on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 has driven the demand for green skills in plumbing, heating, and electrical sectors. The “UK Parliament Postnote 711: Green Skills in education and employment” highlights the government’s commitment to supporting green skills development through various initiatives and funding programs.

In comparison, the global perspective provided by LinkedIn’s “Green Skills Report 2023” shows a broader trend of increasing call  for green skills across all industries. While the UK is making significant strides, there is a global need for a coordinated effort to develop green skills. The disparity between the demand and supply of green talent is a common challenge faced by many countries. For instance, the report notes that while the share of green talent in the workforce is growing, it is not keeping pace with the increasing need  for green skills​​.

Addressing the Green Skills Shortage

To bridge the gap between the demand and supply of green skills, it is essential to invest in education and training programs. The UK’s approach includes partnerships between government, industry, and educational institutions to develop targeted training programs. Apprenticeships and vocational training play a crucial role in equipping workers with the necessary skills.

Globally, similar efforts are needed to enhance the green skills workforce. The LinkedIn report suggests that green skills are particularly resilient during economic downturns, indicating a strong future requirement. Therefore, strategic investments in green skills development can yield long-term economic and environmental benefits.


The transition to a greener economy requires a skilled workforce capable of implementing sustainable practices in plumbing, heating, and electrical industries. The UK is actively addressing this need through various initiatives, but there is a global urgency to develop green skills. By focusing on water conservation, renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, and smart technologies, workers in these sectors can significantly contribute to a sustainable future.

Investing in green skills not only addresses environmental challenges but also creates economic opportunities. As the necessity for green skills continues to rise, it is imperative to close the gap between supply and demand through targeted education and training programs. This coordinated effort will ensure that the workforce is prepared to meet the challenges of a greener economy, both in the UK and globally.

By Maria Gonella, Managing Partner, Quantum Group 

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