6th February 2018
A major report from industry body Gas Safe Register highlights improvements in safety but raises concerns over inadequate training standards – just days after the opening of a £100,000 centre in Kent designed to tackle skills shortages in the gas and heating industries across the South East.
“This Gas Safety Register report shows we have done the right thing by investing in skills training by launching The Energy Academy,” says Centre Manager Kevin Long.
“We are welcoming experienced heating engineers and new recruits to the industry through our doors and the expert training they receive will help to ensure that customers continue to receive excellent service from engineers and installers who are fully up to date with the latest products and industry developments.”
The Energy Academy has been set up by Swale Heating, which is one of the biggest independently-owned heating companies in the UK. Run as an independent operation, the centre offers a wide range of training courses to heating companies, both big and small, based in Kent and across the South East.
The Gas Safety Register Decade Review concludes that overall, the gas safety industry is safer than ever, thanks to better awareness, use of CO alarms and better quality appliances. However, there are concerns that in parts of the UK training and installation standards are falling and there are shortages of experienced and trained engineers.
Jonathan Samuel, Chief Executive of Gas Safety Register, highlighted the importance of hiring a fully-trained, experienced gas engineer, warning: “With so many things to juggle in this day and age it’s understandable that some people look for quick and easy solutions, but when it comes to gas safety our message is clear – you cannot cut corners.”
The report warns that safety is often compromised by customers trying to save money by getting their gas work done ‘on the cheap’ by inadequately trained or illegal fitters, and that the industry faces a challenge to replace an ageing workforce with properly-trained younger engineers.
The Decade Review concludes: “Engineers and stakeholders say the industry must improve training and reassessment. This includes raising standards, attracting a new generation of engineers and helping engineers learn and adapt to new fuels and technologies.”
The Energy Academy is housed in a converted former warehouse at Swale Heating’s Sittingbourne headquarters. Fully qualified trainers work in partnership with Logic Certification and industry leading independent assessors and verifiers.
The centre offers courses covering natural gas, LPG, oil, unvented hot water, underfloor heating, plumbing, electrics and non-technical qualifications for industry operatives.
There are plans to add courses covering solid fuel, biomass, renewable energy, boiler and system wiring logic, practical gas auditing and managing gas auditing, as well as dedicated MLP courses for new entrants to the industry.
A range of modern equipment is provided, allowing trainees to gain practical experience in domestic heating systems. Renewable energy training resources include solar heating, underfloor heating, unvented hot water, air heat source pumps, heat interface units and MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery) units. Learners can take an advanced wiring course for heating systems and NICIEC training is available for electricians.
For more information about The Energy Academy visit www.energy-academy.co.uk
For more information about Swale Heating visit www.swaleheating.com
For more information about Gas Safe Register visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk