Peter Behan, director at Group Horizon, explains why filling the void of in-house energy managers is crucial if the UK is to meet its net-zero carbon target by 2050.

Before social distancing came along, energy efficiency had become the most important aspect in commercial building management. The onset of Covid and the subsequent lockdowns has perhaps exacerbated the need for energy efficiency in buildings; this was clearly evident when we were all told to stay at home while lights continued to burn brightly in office buildings up and down the country. Not all of them of course, and organisations who were well on top of their energy management will have had systems in place to switch off services that were not required as people began to work from home where possible.

Even now as some of us return to our normal places of work, in many cases commercial buildings will be operating at a reduced capacity, with some areas of a building used much less than before. Maintaining a tight grasp on their energy efficiency is therefore going to be crucial for organisations in both the short-term and the long-term. There is also the significant challenge of the UK’s net-zero carbon by 2050 target looming on the horizon. If we are to achieve this then we must continue to address the well-documented statistic that buildings account for over 40 per cent of the global energy consumption with commercial premises accounting for more than half of that figure.

Due to the rise of the cost of energy the UK will become one of the most competitive market places for energy management skills over the next five to seven years – and with a major shortage of trained Energy Managers, there is a void to fill.

A different direction

Many of us have probably considered a career change at various points in our lives. For some, remaining in the same sector from their late teens/early 20s until retirement can bring many rewards and plenty of experience, while others reach a point where they feel they have got as far as they can on one career path and decide to go in a different direction altogether. Everyone is different and we all vary in how we are motivated.

The recent lockdowns have been difficult for everyone in a variety of ways, but they have also spurred people into trying new things like learning to play an instrument, learning a foreign language or improving their health and fitness – bike sales increased by 63 per cent during the first lockdown according to the UK’s Bicycle Association.

Something that might deter people from making a fresh start is the thought of being behind everybody else while they are only just beginning and also being unsure of whether they will be able to secure a job. Group Horizon’s Junior Energy Management apprenticeship programme, however, is open to anybody.

Energy Managers can come from all types of companies and industries, including hospitality, leisure, retail, banking, manufacturing, construction, and property. As I have already mentioned, energy management is going to become even more crucial for businesses and having somebody trained in-house will be a huge advantage.

Reap the benefits

Liam Doughty, from Gateshead, previously worked in facilities management before starting a new role as an energy technician within Gateshead Council. Liam did not have any previous background within the energy industry, so he took up the Junior Energy Management apprenticeship opportunity, a move that he is now reaping the benefits from. Liam said: “The qualification has provided me with a massive opportunity allowing me to not only progress with my knowledge and skills in the energy industry but help me move forward in my career.”

Liam is hoping that this is just the start of his career in the industry saying: “The training has provided me with a foundation to start within the energy industry, allowing me to then further my education in this field. My goal is to complete the Junior Energy Manager apprenticeship with sight to go on to a higher-level education within this field.”

As more businesses come to realise that running their building at 100 per cent capacity is neither cost nor energy efficient when it is only partially occupied, there is a growing demand for the deployment of in-house Energy Managers. The Junior Energy Manager apprenticeship programme offers a balance of technical training and on-the-job assessments to match your needs and requirements.

If Liam’s story inspires you then you too can begin your journey to becoming an Energy Manager and ensure your company stays in firm control of its energy consumption while creating a greener future for the UK.