APHC (Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors) has written to key MPs calling for a review of the concept that Licence to Practise is the solution to skills problems within the sector. The Association is largely supportive of the Licence to Practise idea but believes that a number of key criteria need to be met before it could work without becoming a burden to the plumbing and heating industry. "The introduction of a Licence to Practise would make an enormous difference to our industry," says Clive Dickin, APHC Chief Executive. "However, if introduced with the current legislative framework it would simply add yet more red tape and bureaucracy to a currently over-regulated industry.
I have had very positive discussions with influential MPs who sympathise with the need for a common-sense approach to Licence to Practise and have asked us to provide the rationale for it. We are in the process of doing that. "APHC supports the idea of a Licence to Practise in principle, as long as it meets certain criteria. For example, the current fragmented legislative framework must be replaced with a single piece of legislation stipulating personnel standards, corporate competence and performance and ongoing CPD requirements; the legislation must also be flexible enough to meet the requirements of both business-to-business and consumer servicing contractors.
The current situation involving several schemes covering these areas would need to end. "Real enforcement would be required, alongside a cost-effective scheme that does not add additional cost to the business. It would also be vital to end the confusion of Government initiatives - Trustmark, MCS, WarmFront etc - and address all schemes through the Licence to Practise, not through additional legislation. The Licence to Practise would need to be recognised as the only pre-qualification for tenders but there would have to be strict and detailed stipulations regarding training and enforcement." APHC also states that if Government is not able to make the Licence to Practise happen, then it must strengthen the use and scope of Competent Persons Schemes.