An initiative unveiled yesterday sees two of the industrys most influential bodies coming together to give consumers the ability to easily identify a qualified, skilled and professional plumbing and heating engineer. The Association or Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) and City & Guilds have entered into a five-year agreement designed to bring together their expertise for the benefit of the consumer. With APHCs guarantee of business excellence and City & Guilds assurance of high-quality qualifications, consumers can take great confidence in choosing an engineer with these organisations backing.
Through the jointly-branded "The Plumbing Qualification, APHC and City & Guilds aim to raise standards within the industry, rewarding those who meet the highest standards of education and service.
Clive Dickin, Chief Executive of APHC, comments: "Consumers have been crying out for a foolproof way of how to tell a good plumbing and heating engineer from a bad one and this is it. This initiative means that consumers need to look no further than to see if their engineer has a "˜The Plumbing Qualification logo on his/her van or in his/her advert.
"The good news is that this means no extra hoops to jump through for those companies who have already shown their commitment to quality by taking City & Guilds qualifications and joining APHC. In fact, it is their input, via APHC, that has helped shape City & Guilds qualifications and continued professional development training. "We sincerely hope that this is a significant milestone in the drive to rid the country of rogue traders and to ensure an ever-increasing number of consumers are able to choose a qualified, skilled and reliable plumbing and heating engineer." Chris Jones, Director-General of City & Guilds, adds: "The initiative was prompted by significant changes occurring within an increasingly diverse and complex industry, including new technologies and regulation. This highlighted a need for continuous professional development and training for plumbing and heating engineers in order to provide a high standard of service to customers. "Todays plumbing and heating engineer requires a greater understanding of new technologies and skills, as well as competency in legally advising clients on the best option available for their needs whether its solar heating, ground source heat pumps or one of the more conventional products."
The initiative will focus on 2 core areas:- Improving the level of customer service (to level 3/equivalent to an "A level) provided by plumbing and heating engineers through training and development;- Continuous professional development for APHC members to ensure they keep their technical expertise up-to-date and comply with regulations around building, sanitary installation, water and heating.
APHC members who comply will be able to promote APHC/City & Guilds recognition on their vans and promotional material. The initiative will be backed by APHCs Code of Practice, which is enshrined in the APHC Licensed Plumber Scheme. This Code of Practice should be honoured by all members and where a problem occurs, complaints are managed through a customer helpline. Clive Dickin concludes: "APHCs members have for decades recognised the importance of high-quality qualifications and have great trust in the City & Guilds portfolio.
In more recent years, under-qualified rogue traders and unscrupulous qualified engineers have given the industry a bad name. This new relationship, however, brings a watertight, cradle-to-grave education system combined with rigorous business assessment, and backed by the reassurance of a comprehensive system to address cust