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For the first time in its 112 year history the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has a female National President. The election of Tracey Richardson was confirmed at the Institute’s recent AGM.
Previously serving in the RAF as an Aircraft Technician, Tracey discharged as a Sergeant after 22 years with qualifications in both Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering. She subsequently served a plumbing apprenticeship ‘by accident’ after being encouraged to change her post-RAF career plans from training adults with learning difficulties into a career in the plumbing industry.
In her opening address, Tracey spoke of her journey in the industry to date, the importance of a job well done and reassuringly, the lack or prejudice she has seen within the sector. She spoke of her experience entering Further Education (FE) as a plumbing lecturer, along with her concerns for standards within FE teaching, stating: “The quality of delivery in some colleges worries me and I have often raised this concern to others. Don’t get me wrong, some colleges and centres do a really good job, but it appears that we are coming across quite a few that are falling well short of the mark.”
After discussing some of the issue surrounding the Trailblazer apprenticeships and the fears that some areas of the plumbing industry are being ignored, Tracey moved onto the issue of experienced workers, who hold knowledge and skills but no formal qualifications.
“If we want to address the issue of getting our industry more regulated and helping those with ‘Granddad’s rights’ to gain formal qualifications in the smoothest way possible, then this in turn should also possibly go some way towards addressing the issues surrounding the ‘cowboy’ plumbers. It’s quite a scary thought that anyone could enter a customer’s house and call themselves a ‘plumber’, but with no formal qualification to back it up, and very few customers would be bothered to check. This is one of the key areas I would like to try and help address in my term in office.”
On her ‘first’ as female President Tracey said: “I feel extremely proud to be our Institute’s first female President, but I don’t want this to detract from the role. Yes, I would love to see other women following my lead and yes I do want to encourage more females into the industry, but simply by using a subtler approach of just showing there are no barriers to what you can achieve in life, only the ones you put there, but that rule applies to anyone – male or female.”