Covid-19 has caused an economic climate that is ripe for rogue trainers and fast-track courses. For those who have been made redundant, or those whose priorities have changed post-pandemic, seeking to re-train in a new sector is an attractive prospect.
On paper it seems that learning a trade is a good option. Construction can offer a skill for life, in a key industry, with the potential to be your own boss and gain more control of your work / life balance. Professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) are expecting a surge in demand for training, but warn that not all courses or training providers are equal.
While the majority of training providers offer quality courses and industry recognised qualifications, there are number of rogue trainers out there, selling a dream of easy to complete training and Covid-19 proof, high earning careers.
These types of courses will often come from private companies and promise qualifications in weeks, or months, claiming to condense quality learning into small timeframes. Training providers may offer classroom based learning or home study courses that fit in around your current commitments. Some even claim to have lifelike Virtual Reality content or contractors waiting in the wings to give you workplace experience.
Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE, points out that it takes up to four years to qualify under the plumbing and domestic heating technician trailblazer apprenticeship. During the four years, the majority of practical, skill-based learning is completed on-site with an employer, with theory covered approximately one day a week, during term time, in the classroom.
Kevin said: “It is vital to only train with an accredited provider and to pick an industry recognised qualification. Level 3 NVQ has been the industry standard for many years. When it comes to choosing a course, it is a case of ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘buyer beware’. You could be thousands of pounds out of pocket if you make the wrong choice. The Government recently reiterated that from 1 August 2020, all new apprenticeship starts must be on new, employer-designed Standards so the training landscape is undergoing a huge overhaul at the moment. Therefore, if you are enrolling with a private provider, you need to do your homework to ensure you are signing up to a bona fide course. This includes finding out if the tutors/assessors have themselves achieved a minimum NVQ Level 3 qualification and have industry experience.”
So how do you spot a rogue training course? Kevin continued, “A career in the plumbing and heating industry calls for practical skills, which can only be learnt through repetition. Rogue training courses are usually very big on theory and offer very limited practical work, normally in a training centre. The harsh reality is that this is no match for a four-year, work based apprenticeship. The courses offering just classroom or home learning experience will not give you the skills necessary to enter the industry or gain employment. Ask yourself if you would reasonably engage somebody to provide professional trade services, in your own home, if you knew their recently gained knowledge and skills had been picked up in a matter of weeks? Next apply that to whether you think the course being offered is appropriate or not.”
“The CIPHE is aware that accessing an apprenticeship can be very difficult, but thousands of members operating in the industry today benefitted from exactly that. We call on those who did, to provide the same opportunities to the next generation of plumbing and heating industry professionals.”