Plumbing industry organisations are receiving an increasing number of complaints from people who have paid large sums of money for "fast track training to become plumbers only to discover that the training is inadequate.
Examples include:Organisations advertising themselves, quite legally, as City & Guilds registered, but they are not registered to deliver the specific plumbing qualification so the learner cannot be certified Organisations delivering only the technical elements of training with no work experience, so learners cannot prove the competences required for the N/SVQ People investing in a franchise arrangement offering training and a promise of work opportunities once qualified, only to find out that they are charged for set up costs and a van amounting to thousands of pounds, and the promised work opportunities do not materialise.
Some organisations are allegedly charging as much as £9000 for just two weeks so called "instruction". At a Working Group meeting held earlier this year sponsored by DfES with the support of Skills Minister Phil Hope MP, a number of action items were agreed in order to raise the awareness of the increasing problem of fast track training courses for plumbers which do not lead to the achievement of recognised industry qualifications.
The Plumbing and Heating Industry Alliance (PHIA) believes that those who attend such courses and spend large self sponsored sums will rarely (if ever) achieve the minimum skills or N/SVQ qualifications expected by the industry and most will certainly lack any site experience. Indeed their lack of experience could be potentially dangerous as their expectation could lead them to undertake work for which they are not competent.
The PHIA believes that these courses can only add to the element of "Rogue Traders" and the effect they will have on an unsuspecting public. This will further penalise the legitimate sector firms that are endeavouring to maintain standards in the public interest.
Chairman of the Working Group and the PHIA Chris Sneath said:"It takes some years for legitimate trainees and apprentices to obtain accredited standards of competence as well as gaining invaluable experience on site.
Whilst there may be nothing illegal in offering such training, we are of the view that the practice is questionable and in a sense immoral, as the individuals will rarely achieve the minimum skills or qualifications expected by industry. We have a duty to warn others of the dangers of these Rogue Training courses by whatever means. I urge the industry to broadcast this warning to the widest possible audience. We owe it to the legitimate future trainees and apprentices so they have adequate protection.
We are currently waiting to hear what help and support the Government can also give us "A further meeting of the Working Group will be held in the Autumn.
In the meantime the key messages for people interested in a career in plumbing are:The skill shortages publicised a few years ago are no longer as acute and wage rates have now settled in line with other trades The industry recognised standard for plumbing is N/SVQ Level 3 To find out about recognised training routes into the industry people should refer to the Learn Direct website http://www.learndirect.co.uk/, which contains industry approved careers guidance Any complaints about poor training in the plumbing sector should be referred to Summit Skills (Sector Skills Council for the Building Services Sector) contact details can be found on their website http://www.summitskills.org.uk/.