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Dickin defends APHC plumbing qualification

The chief executive of the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) has defended a new badge of competence being launched through a partnership with City & Guilds.

Visitors to this website queried the need for the new initiative, the Plumbing Qualification, questioning whether it would add to confusion in the industry and lead to additional costs for installers.

APHC’s Clive Dickin said the scheme was an attempt to drive up standards and provide a framework for Continuing Professional Development but admitted the association hoped the qualification would help it double in size to 3,000 member companies.

He said: “We believe there is a real need out there for quality consumer protection. One of the interesting things from the comments is that everyone has hooked on to this being another stamp of approval. This is setting better standards for companies to aspire to.”

Visitors have been discussing their worries over the qualification this week. Simon Reddy, from Reddy Plumbing, said he believed City & Guilds had previously damaged the plumbing industry by allowing a glut of people to complete basic technical courses.

He said: “It could be argued that City & Guilds have gone a long way to devaluing the status of plumbing qualifications and the trust our community puts in them has collapsed.”

Mike Walton, from Mike Walton Property Maintenance, said: “I have lost count of the number of schemes supposed to protect the consumer from rogue tradesmen, but they all have one thing in common – they cost the genuine tradesman money.”

Jules Farrer, from David A Farrer, asked: “Why yet another badge? Must we now be forced to join APHC? What is the matter with the qualifications we already have - surely they are the proof of competence?”

One website visitor defended the initiative. He said: “As a member of the APHC, I am very pleased to see this collaboration. As far as I am concerned, City & Guilds is the benchmark for training and skills. If this now works alongside APHC, then I have met the criteria with no additional cost at all.”

APHC and City & Guilds have entered into a five-year agreement to develop the new standard. It will be underpinned by APHC’s Code of Practice and qualifications developed by City & Guilds to meet industry targets – in particular renewables. Those who qualify can display the APHC and City & Guilds logo on their vehicles.

Mr Dickin described it as a “cradle-to-grave education system combined with rigorous business assessment” which would hopefully increase confidence in the qualification system.

He said: “This scheme will only accept fully qualified plumbing and heating operatives with minimum Level 2 qualifications with additional units of compliance. Accelerated learners need not apply.

“We are very concerned about the number of organisations that utilise legitimate training courses, designed for experienced workers, for commercial gain. Those providers do nothing to help, and actually undermine core qualifications, hence the relationship with City & Guilds.”