The new President of the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors has promised to revise apprenticeships to help bridge the gap between learning and employment.

In his inaugural speech, Graham Beevers explained how APHC has been working with CIPHE to revise the industry’s apprenticeship framework.

This comes as part of the Government’s revision of apprenticeships in England, which aims to close the gap between starting a vocational career and academic, degree-based alternatives.

At Rookery Hall Hotel in Nantwich on June 30, he said: “The Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician Apprenticeship Board took the opportunity to review what is needed to take the industry forward for the next few years in terms of the education and training requirements of craft plumbing operatives.

“To that end it has been pleasing to see that employers have been able to lead the way in determining the shape of our new look apprenticeship package.

“Unsurprisingly they have also taken the opportunity to utilise some aspects of apprenticeships that worked well in the past.

“Perhaps the most controversial feature is to only develop a Level 3 apprenticeship solution, a decision which was underpinned by credible research which indicated that only about a third of those entering the apprenticeship programme progress through to Level 3, whereas around 75 per cent of domestic plumbing and heating engineers are required to regularly work on a range of complex systems and work activities that are only covered at Level 3.

“In a nutshell the focus of developing this new-look apprenticeship has been very much based on the development of an all-round competent individual which in turn establishes firm foundations for making a significant contribution towards the much needed raising of standards in our industry.”

Graham described the main features of the new framework, which include:

  • A four-year programme duration to allow sufficient time for development of all the relevant skills.
  • The completion of a comprehensive skills end test as a final check before completing the apprenticeship.
  • Grading of apprentice achievement against components of the apprenticeship based on pass, merit or distinction.
  • The requirement for aspects of on-site work to be assessed in the workplace and for the employer to endorse this ‘as to required standards’.