CIPHE UPDATE: Bringing in the next generation

CIPHE UPDATE: Bringing in the next generation

Jerry Whiteley, Technical Manager at the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), outlines the work being done to drive recruitment into the sector.  

According to heating industry statistics, sales for gas boilers grew by 15% between 2020 and 2021, while radiator sales were up 22% and cylinders at nearly 2%. But the biggest growth by far was for solar, increasing by 89% in this period.

While industry growth is positive, it has highlighted an urgent need to drive recruitment as those starting out are outnumbered by those leaving for retirement or to pursue another career. To date, the CIPHE has championed apprenticeships because they provide quality education, hands-on experience, and access to a network of professional contacts. They are often the foundation of a successful career. In fact, of the CIPHE senior management, 75% began as apprentices.

To support this notion, the charity made one of its largest investments to date into training infrastructure. This has focussed on digital so far, due to the disruption to in-person training. Recently, the CIPHE has added a low temperature CPD course. With key legislative change ahead, skilled installers can refresh their knowledge and keep up to date.

Training centre update
The importance of hands-on experience continues to be fundamental to competency and the CIPHE continues to work closely with 51 colleges and 12 manufacturer training centres around the UK. Despite frequent changes to restrictions over the past two years, training centres have adapted well to new ways of teaching. Alongside this, the Department for Education allowed awarding bodies to make changes implementing mitigation which enables relevant knowledge, skills and experience to be put towards a qualification. There has been a mixed reception from training centres linked to stigma around a perceived loosening of standards. While others felt they could better support the progress of a learner, allowing them to catch up at a later date.

The good news is that recruitment of new apprentices is on the rise. Plus, the NVQ Level 3 Domestic Plumbing and Heating Technician is now embedded, and many centres are trialling the course and assessments. Going forward, the CIPHE aspires to increase awareness of pathways into the industry, including apprenticeships, through careers offices in schools.

Going forward
This year, we will continue to urge government to focus on apprenticeships, as well as developing more of our own initiatives. The recent collaboration with Ideal Standard is a great example of this in action, providing funding and support to small plumbing and heating businesses. With help from our members, we will also strive to increase awareness and uptake of existing schemes, such as apprenticeship levies. Our Industrial Associates will have a key part to play too, engaging school career offices and highlighting what a rewarding career the plumbing and heating industry can provide.

The CIPHE will continue to maximise existing partnerships in these efforts, while also using social channels and our YouTube channel to share messaging and drive recruitment in 2022/2023. As always, we continue to promote high standards of quality and professionalism, using digital resources to reach as many people as possible.

For more information regarding apprentices or training, contact [email protected]

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