Reflecting on EV World Congress 2023: Fostering collaboration and skills development for sustainable mobility

The recently concluded EV World Congress 2023 brought together industry leaders and policymakers to collectively shape the future of the electric vehicle (EV) charging landscape. On the 10th and 11th October, against the backdrop of Novotel London West, the event underscored the significance of collaborative efforts in moving the EV sector forward.

23 October 2023

The congress addressed the pressing issue of the skills gap, extending beyond just EV charging to encompass essential electrical skills vital for facilitating the transition to green technologies. Participants advocated for targeted training initiatives, emphasising the value of preparing apprentices and learners for the evolving demands of the industry.

EV World congress imageAmidst the diverse conversations at the event, there was a growing focus on fostering stronger collaboration between employers, local government, training institutions and industry stakeholders in our discussion, promoting diversity and inclusivity in the narratives around career opportunities for electricians and electrical/energy engineers. The sector seeks to welcome individuals from different backgrounds, age groups, and genders, creating an environment conducive to innovation and progression. Discussions highlighted the significance of aligning training programs with industry demands, thus ensuring a workforce that remains adaptable and responsive to the ever-evolving landscape of the EV industry. 

Insights from City & Guilds' Panel Discussion at EV World Congress

City & Guilds facilitated a thought-provoking panel discussion, led by Andy Moss, Chief Customer Officer at City & Guilds. The discussion centered on the vital role of skills in the journey toward achieving net zero, featuring a diverse panel of industry experts. 

During the session, Paul Nichols, Chief Technical Officer at Ubitricity provided industry insights, discussing the critical need for trained, competent, and qualified individuals to meet the growing and high expectations within the EV sector. Nichols highlighted that while the UK is presently in a stable position, the projected exponential growth in demand must be met to achieve national targets effectively. His comments underscored the urgency of addressing the skills gap and the need for robust training initiatives in the industry. 

James McKemey, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Pod Point, highlighted concerns surrounding the educational sector's role in vocational training, emphasising the need for a cultural shift to elevate the status of technical roles. He highlighted the disparity between the social esteem of electricians in different countries, pointing out the need for greater recognition and aspiration for roles in the technical sector, such as that of an electrician. McKemey also explained the importance of improved education planning to address these issues, stressing the significance of altering societal perceptions and providing a viable path for individuals pursuing technical roles. 

The regional perspective was presented by Shamala Evans-Gadgil, EV Infrastructure Programme Manager at Coventry City Council. She spoke about the necessity for collaboration between the transport and energy sectors in achieving the UK's net-zero targets. She highlights the historical separation between these sectors and the current imperative to merge their expertise, stressing that collaboration is essential for success. Further stressing that the transition to net zero requires a cohesive effort, reiterating the significance of collective collaboration in realising the country's sustainable energy goals. 

Finally, Tim Weston, Vice-Principal at Southbank Colleges, highlighted the scarcity of both skilled electricians and qualified educators within the Further Education (FE) sector. He drew attention to the challenge  the industry's higher wages poses to FE talent strategy, as it  often draws skilled professionals away from teaching roles. Emphasing the need to enhance the appeal of teaching and training positions, ensuring the availability of a skilled workforce in the education and training settings capable of supporting the transition to a net-zero economy. 

EV World Congress image

In summary: Key insights on industry challenges and collaborative solutions

In summary, the discussion shed light on the pressing issue of the aging population, which poses a significant challenge both at the industry level and within the trainer population. The scarcity of qualified electrician to meet upcoming demand across the green energy and transport sectors. The reluctance of engineers and electricians to join the training sector, driven by the higher wages within the industry owing to the imbalance of supply and demand for skilled workers,  further compounds this challenge. This imbalance could profoundly impact the skills training and education institutions, limiting their access to the current skill set and workforce necessary for educating and training the next generation and building the talent pipeline required to achieve net zero and ensure the UK's global competitiveness. 

The panel's collective expertise highlighted the pressing need for collaborative efforts across all sectors of the skills system. Participants spoke about the necessity of a cohesive approach, urging employers, policymakers, educators, and learners to unite in tackling the skills challenge and driving meaningful change. These key takeaways echoed the findings of City & Guilds' recent Bright Futures research, demonstrating the pivotal role of skill development in shaping a sustainable and resilient workforce.

Driving EV charging qualifications and training initiatives

City & Guilds was the first Awarding Organisation to deliver EV Charging qualifications, certifying EV charging installers since 2010. In 2022, City & Guilds worked with leading employers and experts from the Institute of Engineering & Technology and the Electrical Contractors Association to develop a new industry standard for EV Charging courses. As part of this initiative, City & Guilds launched three qualifications to support training and certification of the next generation of EV charging designers, installers and EV Charging commissioning engineers.  

EV World congress imageLeading the charge, City & Guilds is working with Shell, NET (in England) and SECTT (in Scotland) to deliver the first ever training programme for fourth-year electro-technical apprentices in EV Charging installation. This effort is key in constructing the UK talent pipeline from the ground up, ensuring an equitable and inclusive transition to net zero. The training is administered by the City & Guilds Technical Training division sponsored by Shell and is closely monitored by NET and SECTT to ensure apprentices are appropriately vetted and certified only upon achievement of qualified status.

Concluding the EV World Congress 2023, the event stood as a testament to the industry's unwavering commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth. The discussions not only illuminated the challenges but also painted a hopeful picture of a future where collaboration and skill development serve as the cornerstones of a thriving EV ecosystem. With innovative solutions and collective efforts, the path to achieving net zero and fostering a greener, more accessible transportation system is well within reach. As the industry continues to progress, events like the EV World Congress serve as crucial platforms for fostering collective action and inspiring positive transformations within the sector. 

Watch the full panel discussion

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