Training providers in the UK have been criticised recently for advising people struggling to find work to take fast-track courses to become plumbers. In reality, the training offered on such courses tends to be inadequate or entirely irrelevant, leading to disappointment, debt and no additional income. In some cases in Scotland, trainees discovered they were paying to complete a course that doesn’t even exist.
Experienced tradesmen and firms, meanwhile, have a better understanding of the kind of work that’s really available and what typical customer requirements are. We spoke to one of the leading professional plumbers in Edinburgh, Fast Plumbing, who offer a range of plumbing services including emergency drain, shower, boiler and central heating repairs among others. They explained the disconnect between the benefits offered by fast-track courses and the requirements of a real job in plumbing.
“People sometimes have a misconception that these skills are easy to pick up, and a basic qualification will get you started,” they told us. “In Scotland you can’t even complete the NVQ level 2, which some people think they’re getting at the end. They wouldn’t even be able to register as a plumber, let alone find work. It’s not fair of these companies to make promises and fail to deliver.”
This may come as a nasty surprise for anyone who was encouraged to borrow hundreds or even thousands of pounds to finance this training based on the assumption that it would be easy to find work and start earning that back. The Joint Industry Board for Plumbing and Mechanical Engineering has confirmed that many people with basic certifications in plumbing have been unable to legally register with them due to being under-qualified.
For the most part, the companies in question are able to provide theoretical training which should constitute the first part of an NVQ. In order to complete the NVQ in plumbing (or in any other field), a period of work experience needs to be undertaken and evaluated. Training providers have started offering the training without the work experience element, making them effectively useless.
This has led to private companies who offer these kinds of courses to come under fire for misrepresenting the facts and taking advantage of people in desperate situations. It is hoped that in future, there will be more clarification about what’s involved with any trade-based training course and what can be expected as a result, in order to reduce the number of people left with more debt and no work.