Press | Published on 15th Feb 2017

How can we solve the heating industry skills shortage?

In at number 7 on the list of ‘Top 10 Industries that will never go away’ is ‘Professional Services’ under which the Heating and Plumbing industry fall. Simply because we support a basic household need- heat and hot water.

Whilst the industry may evolve and develop as needs change, the fundamental need for a home to have heat and hot water will remain the same. This may very well be the reason you joined the profession- ‘job for life there’ came the advice when you were pondering over your future choices, and it seems you were wise to listen.

The Federation of Master Builder’s State of Trade Survey for Q4 2016 shows that:

‘The growth in overall workloads slowed for the second consecutive quarter, but remained positive for the fifteenth consecutive quarter. ‘

So despite 2016 being forever known as BREXIT 2016, the SME construction (in which plumbing and heating fall) sector continued to show resilience in the final months of the year.

Reassuring news for us all I am sure. Now comes the crunch….

The FMB’s report also found that 41% of construction SMEs are struggling to recruit plumbers. That’s a staggering number, and with the average age of RGE’s resting at 44, one that we can’t ignore.

The UK’s heating industry is globally respected, but the only way for us to be able to continue to compete internationally, increase productivity and develop new technologies that work, is to maintain our workforce. One way we can increase the skills within our industry is to invest in apprenticeships. But simply offering apprenticeships is not enough we need to attract young people to fill these roles and that is a more difficult proposition.

We need to change the ‘status’ of the qualification compared to a degree  – apprenticeships must not be seen as the ‘poor relation’ to university, they offer an effective way to ‘learn and earn’ at the same time.

The HHIC will be working across the industry to ensure that this message gets to where it is needed.

Did you start off as an apprentice? Or perhaps you have taken one on. If you have a story to tell about joining the industry via an apprenticeship we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch laurah@eua.org.uk