The growth of Connected Kerb is no better illustrated than the increasing number of charging points that are appearing across the UK’s streets and car parks. But installing those charging points at scale is one of the greatest challenges facing us as a company, the EV industry as a whole and the country’s net zero ambitions.
Whether it’s installing a home charger or an on-street charging station, meeting these demands requires having the right people with the right skills to deliver EV infrastructure deployment projects on a nationwide basis. And this isn’t always easy.
The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) forecasts a shortfall of 35,700 technicians by 2030 if retraining isn’t addressed urgently. Failure to get this right could lead to untrained workers installing EV charging points incorrectly, resulting in damages, losses or injuries to the public. Similarly, a low number of trained electricians installing EV charging points at too slow a rate will see efforts to meet 2030 charging point targets flounder.
Of course the skills gap needs to be addressed from as early as possible in the education system. At Connected Kerb we get involved educating youngsters about climate change and the role of electric vehicles where we can, trying to share our passion for sustainability.
Pictured: Jo Richardson Community School pupils with London Borough of Barking & Dagenham councillors and our brand ambassador Martin Offiah at the Barking Youth Summit.
Getting more school pupils interested in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and illustrating the exciting potential of smart cities is also a critical part of the long-term education piece. More work also needs to be done to attract talented women into the EV field, an endeavour which Connected Kerb continues to develop with a 56% - 44% male/female gender ratio in our workforce.
But given that the 2030 deadline is just eight years away, there is a pressing need for more immediate solutions. Compounding the challenge is the rapidly evolving new charging point technologies that installers need to be trained up in quickly.
A lack of EV and hybrid skills is one of the main barriers preventing the delivery of this service. A 2019 Optimat survey of garages working on vehicles in Scotland found that only 30% of them offered repair and maintenance services for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Pictured: A Connected Kerb Gecko charging point being installed.
However, over 75% believed that they would be working on them in the future. 70% of respondents who didn’t offer hybrid/electric services to their customers said that their staff were not qualified to work on electric and hybrid cars. Clearly there is a difference between being trained to fix electric/hybrid cars and having the skills to install charging point infrastructure but the principle remains the same.
Here at Connected Kerb, our installers pride themselves on providing high quality but most importantly, safe installations. We place high demands on all of our contractors who must be OZEV Approved and have SSIP Certification as a minimum.
We also actively encourage own staff to attend professional development courses. Craig McDermott, National Installation Manager at Connected Kerb, recently spoke at a City & Guilds roundtable event, focusing on the skills gap.
Craig said: “Upskilling is a long process, which leaves us with a skills shortage problem that is difficult to address in the short-term. By 2030, we’re expected to have installed 190,000 EV chargers – we need a really good team for that. But we’re not cutting corners. For us, safety always comes first.”
He also advocated the value of training and upskilling experienced workers: “If we had a governing qualification that covered all the standards, requirements and regulations in EV charging point installations, and if I saw that qualification on a candidate’s CV, I’d be very interested in meeting that person!”
Just last week, the government announced its Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy which included a pilot of the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund. This includes up to £50m to fund local delivery support across the country, and provide training, tools and knowledge sharing. It will focus on upskilling areas which are currently behind in planning and delivering charging points.
The IMI has repeated its plea for the government to commit funding to support EV skills training. It suggests a £15m boost “would play a critical role, contributing towards training for up to 75,000 technicians. In the context of the £1.9bn investment committed by government in the 2020 Spending Review to supporting the transition to zero-emission vehicles for charging infrastructure and consumer incentives, the IMI believes this is a modest figure.”
Organisations such as the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are taking a key role in the regional planning and coordination of EV infrastructure. They launched the Electric Vehicle and Green Technologies Training Centre, the first of its kind in the UK, backed by £250,000 in funding and aiming to train 720 local people in next 18 months.
This will enable people to begin a new career or upskill, providing crucial skills for the transition to EVs. For Connected Kerb, our charging point installation team are the lifeblood of our deployment programme. Keeping their skills up-to-date and recruiting the best talent is not just an aspiration but a must, especially if net zero is going to be delivered both quickly and safely.