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WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com CIPHECOLUMN Proud to promote apprenticeships In the first of a series of articles, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers (CIPHE) CEO, Kevin Wellman, explains why CIPHE is encouraging plumbing and heating engineers to be ‘Proud to be a Professional’ this year and why promoting this message is vital when it comes to attracting young people... Idon’t know about you, but I consider myself extremely lucky to have chosen a career in the plumbing and heating industry. If I had put my mind to it, I’m sure I could have been a lawyer, doctor, or even a fighter pilot, but when I left school I chose to embark upon a plumbing apprenticeship in the late 1970s; and thank goodness I did. In fact, I was fortunate enough to be offered two plumbing apprenticeships. As a result of the early days spent learning a trade, many doors have opened for me and from my very first day at work I’ve not looked back since. I say this because, however, glamourous it might sound to be a fighter pilot or a lawyer, being a plumbing and heating engineer means making just as much difference to people’s lives. However, I’m not completely convinced that everyone else feels the same. For all too long now, there has been a focus on pushing young people in the direction of university rather than highlighting the possibilities that a practical apprenticeship can present. Over the years, it’s as if following a career path that requires young adults to use their hands has become a second class option in comparison to completing a degree qualification; a perception that clearly needs to change. Having read the latest research on the subject, I know I’m not alone in thinking this either. THE EMPLOYERS SKILLS SURVEY In January this year, The Employer Skills Survey 2015, was published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. It presented a comprehensive picture of the UK labour market and reported that vacancies for skilled workers had grown significantly in the last two years with a shortage of 43% in trades. The building industry was cited as being particularly affected with over a third of vacancies for electricians, plumbers, gas engineers and construction workers being named as ‘skill shortage vacancies’. On a more positive note, there has been better news for apprenticeships just recently. Following the Chancellor’s announcement in last year’s Autumn Statement on the government’s plans to establish the Institute for Apprenticeships, Nick Boles MP Minister of State for Skills recently provided further detail on the apprenticeship levy. When summing up the Spending Review process he confirmed the government is now in a position to set both the rate for the apprenticeship levy and its scope. What’s now known is that the rate for the levy will be set at 0.5% of employer’s pay bill and will be collected via PAYE. Each employer will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. This means that the levy will only be paid on any pay bill in excess of £3 million and that less than two per cent of UK employers will pay it. With HM Revenue & Customs pledging to work closely with employers and providers of payroll services to minimise the burden of implementing these changes, the focus on apprenticeships this brings is pretty good news. However, while the government is now proactively promoting apprenticeships for all trades, there is a lot of ground to make up in order to upskill people to the required level. Going forward, the focus now has to be on making sure apprenticeships are fit for purpose. I have often heard concerns from businesses that some of the training provisions they have encountered in their time have been inadequate and ineffective as a result. In addition to that, where young people have entered the industry, they may have done so via fast-track courses, which meant they were unprepared and not competent enough to do the job they had trained for. Going back to my original point about being a pilot; there’s no way anyone would be allowed to take a Tornado fighter jet for a spin without first gaining the relevant qualifications and hours of experience. So why shouldn’t the same apply to anyone thinking of becoming a plumbing and heating engineer? Whether you’re servicing, repairing or replacing a boiler you have the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone around you to consider from your cockpit at all times, as well as making sure your own skills are up to speed too. Given the complex nature of the work installers have to carry out, the duty of care they have to those around them – not to mention the need for continued learning to keep up-to-date with technology and legislation – my hope is that more young people who are looking for a challenging career that can last a lifetime will consider being a professional working in the plumbing and heating industry as a first choice in future. The more we can do to promote this, the better. If you have a view about what it means to be ‘Proud to be a Professional’, the CIPHE would like to hear from you. To get in touch, simply contact Kevin Wellman and his team at CIPHE HQ via email: info@ciphe.org.uk or by phone: 01708 472791. For more regular updates please follow the Institute on Twitter @CIPHE or take a look at the website for more information about membership at: www.ciphe.org.uk. 24 APRIL 2016 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY enquiry number 122 Apprenticeships can lead to a lifelong career in the plumbing and heating industry


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