Ripping off the redundant

SummitSkills, the Sector Skills Council for building services engineering, is advising those considering becoming a plumber, as a career change or looking for work, to beware of expensive, short plumbing courses that will not lead to the employment they expect.

With the current economic downturn certain to produce many redundancies this year, training courses that claim to turn people into qualified plumbers quickly are increasingly being advertised with promises of a plentiful supply of lucrative work opportunities. Unfortunately, many who have undertaken such courses have found they have been misled and that their new skills are not recognised by employers and are inadequate to successfully get them back into employment.

SummitSkills advises that the best route to getting qualified is through an apprenticeship that combines classroom theory and practical on-site experience with an employer.

“We have received many calls from people who have taken up expensive short-term training that leads to virtually worthless qualifications,” explains Keith Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of SummitSkills. “Short courses rarely provide the skills, experience or qualifications recognised by employers or reputable trade associations. In today’s economic climate it’s all too easy to consider one of these courses as a route to employment, but in reality these courses do nothing for your prospects. It is a tragedy if someone unfortunate enough to be made redundant suffers again by handing money to a rogue trainer.

“I urge anyone considering taking a plumbing course to check the course and the qualification it leads to thoroughly. We are happy to provide advice on the appropriateness of the qualification and whether the skills learned are likely to be sufficient to achieve industry recognition and employment.”

Skills Minister, Lord Young, said: “This Government is committed to expanding the number of high quality apprenticeships available. Apprenticeships offer an excellent route into a new career. The Government also funds many other high quality vocational courses, which offer the opportunity to retrain. SummitSkills is right to alert people looking to retrain and reskill of the dangers of rogue trainers. I urge anyone considering retraining to become a plumber to check SummitSkills’ website first, or speak to their local further education college or job centre to get good advice and guidance and avoid being ripped off.”

Along with trade associations such as the APHC and SNIPEF; and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, SummitSkills has been campaigning for some time against such training courses and has also raised this issue at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Building Services Engineering.

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