Powering the Future: Our College Pioneers the First Electric Vehicle Course in the UK! | South Bank Colleges
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A London college says it is the first in the UK to pilot a course on installing electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

London South Bank Technical College, in Nine Elms, is offering a six-week course on installing the chargers.

Funded by Shell in partnership with City and Guilds, the course is part of a four-year electrical apprenticeship.

It follows concerns there will not be enough qualified installers to meet the government's charging point targets.

Tim Weston, director of career pathways at the college, said normally such courses would be only for competent electricians but the institution "no longer had the luxury" to wait around for people to reach that level.

He said there were worries these courses would be too challenging for apprentices, but believes their learners have disproved these by passing the course.

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"This really is the beginning of something - there are huge skills shortages, not just to do with EV points but all renewables," he explained.

"All of them are going to come in as we try and decarbonise across London and we have a short time to do this and we need the skilled staff now."

Electrical apprentice Chris Fearon, who used to be a care worker, is now in his final year of his apprenticeship and has completed the course.

He said: "It will be very useful to me to add to my toolkit, open up doors for me, as well as having the standard electrical installation qualification."

According to figures from Zap-Map, which is used by the Department for Transport (DfT), in the last three months of 2022, 2,401 EV charging points were installed - roughly 25% of the monthly installation rate needed to reach the government's target.

Recent quarterly figures show installations have now gone up to 5,474, but this is still below the rate needed to reach the target.

Melanie Shufflebotham, founder of Zap-Map, said she "wasn't concerned" about the lack of charging points, adding funding was in place and it was now about "implementation at pace".

"The charge point operators are ready. Charge UK, which is the trade body for the operators, have got £6bn already committed for charge points to go into the ground before 2030," she added.

Meanwhile Ginny Buckley, from electric car website electrifying.com, said hitting the targets was still an issue but the focus on numbers was not helpful while there were still "charging wastelands" around the UK.

"The government should be looking at getting the right speed chargers in the right locations instead," she said.

"We still have more chargers in Westminster than in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester combined."

A DfT spokesperson said: "We have put more than £2bn into supporting the switch to electric vehicles, and there are now more than 48,000 public charging devices across the UK.

"We're also ensuring that people across the country have the right skills."

It's hoped from next year all electrical apprenticeships across the UK will also offer the course.

Article written by Jim Wheble
BBC London