The Government’s pledge to rollout smart meters to 30 million homes by 2020 could be delayed because of a lack of qualified engineers, new research suggests.
Nearly one in five Brits, who have arranged for a smart meter to be installed in their homes, have experienced long delays because there are not enough engineers available to carry out the work.
The survey of 2,000 homeowners by ECTA Training also reveals that installation delays are costing people more money. More than 30% of people surveyed said they were missing out on reductions to their energy bills, while they waited for an installation.
Brits also had concerns around the environmental impact of the delays; with 15% fearing the Government will miss its target of meeting EU requirements on cutting carbon emissions.
The research, which forms part of a report called ‘Smart Meters: the consumer view’, found that homeowners in the North East and London are more likely to suffer a delay, with 26% of people in these regions revealing they had experienced problems.
People in the North East are also more concerned about missing out on energy bill reductions, with nearly 40% saying this was an issue they thought about. This was closely followed by homeowners in the East Midlands (35%) and Yorkshire (36%).
As a result of the delays and skills shortage, consumers are calling for more money to be invested in training to increase the number of qualified engineers.
More than half of the people surveyed believe that energy companies should be putting more money into training schemes for staff, while more than 20% believe the Government should invest more money as part of its smart meter target pledge.
Kerry-Anne Berry, director at ECTA Training, said: “Delays to smart meter installations, caused by a lack of qualified engineers, is denying consumers the chance to reduce energy usage and the cost of their energy bills.
“We estimate that up to 6,500 new smart meter engineers are currently required to help meet the Government’s ambitious targets. Therefore, more needs to be done to address this issue in order to recruit and train qualified engineers to meet the demand.
“While the skills gap is not good news for those waiting for a smart meter, it does present an opportunity for people looking for a new job or a career change. It’s therefore vital that energy companies do more to promote careers in engineering, whilst the sector needs to examine means of funding extra training and development opportunities to ensure the smart meter rollout is a success.”
For more information on the smart meter rollout and the report, please visit: www.ectatraining.co.uk/smart-meter-report