As part of National Careers Week and National Apprenticeship week in March, Paul Megginson from Sime Boilers highlight the benefits for young people wanting to pursue a career in heating.

We are currently experiencing a skills shortage in our industry. Research conducted by Dutch manufacturing company, Wavin, shows that over half (56%) of the 149 plumbing and heating installers surveyed, over half (56%) stated that the skills gap is the biggest threat facing the plumbing industry today.

Why should young people pursue a career in the heating industry?

There are a wide range of benefits for young people looking to get into our profession.

An apprenticeship or traineeship offers young people a great route into the industry. Many young people are keen to start working and earning money straight away once they leave school and with the wide variety of apprenticeships available in the industry, this is definitely an option to consider.

Also, with the introduction of competitions like the HIP UK Apprentice of the Year, there are lots of opportunities for apprentices to be recognised for their skills. These competitions give apprentices the chance to compete in regional heats against other apprentices, providing a great incentive for students to work hard in their training. However, an apprenticeship is not for everyone.

The government recognises that more needs to be done to ensure that all school leavers are given the opportunity to find a career, regardless of their skill-set or academic ability.

This is where the introduction of the T Level will come in. From 2020, T Levels will give school leavers another alternative to apprenticeships and A-levels, allowing students to engage in on-the-job training as well as classroom study. The idea of these new qualifications is to give people pursuing vocational careers like those in the construction and engineering sectors, the same status alongside A levels.

As this is a completely new initiative, there is nothing to say that this will help the skills shortage in our industry, but it is a welcome attempt.

So, why is there a skills gap?

Currently, for young people seeking a career in plumbing, construction or engineering, the requirement is to attend college and complete an NVQ. Disappointingly, schools are encouraging more pupils to attend higher education and university, so for young people looking for a practical job, it is difficult to get the support they need.

The industry is also very male-dominated, despite the best efforts to attract women into the trade. So, with a wide range of benefits and incentives available, alongside the work of influential females like Hattie Hasan, founder of Stopcocks, hopefully we will see more of a balance of young men and women in the future.

Moving forward

So how do we attract more young people into the heating profession?

It is clear that we are battling against the ongoing pressures from schools to get more students to attend higher education.

Although, Wavin’s research also confirmed that more than four-fifths (86%) of plumbing professionals would recommend it as a career.

With the work that key industry professionals like @PBPlumber, @plumberparts and @Stopcocks are doing to help increase awareness alongside the growing list of opportunities for young people, hopefully we can help to close the skills gap and attract more 16-18 year olds.

For more information about pursuing a career in the industry, visit the CIPHE website: https://www.ciphe.org.uk/professional-members/careers/