Keeping up with industry change

With installers unable to attend training during lockdown it is useful to know what’s going on in the industry and what opportunities are available to take advantage of within Government guidelines. Graham Collins, Training Support Manager at Baxi identifies some of the key areas of industry change that you need to know about, in addition to what support has been put in place to help heating engineers. 

Going through changes

The plumbing and heating industry is changeable and while this can make your career interesting and varied, on the other hand it can be difficult to keep up with the latest rules and regulations. This has become increasingly difficult since the arrival of COVID-19, which has had a huge impact on the sector. 

In the last two years alone, we have seen the introduction of Boiler Plus, new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) and a plethora of sustainable low-carbon pledges and information to be aware of too. For the rest of 2020 and beyond, installers will need to be prepared for even more change.

What’s coming?

While proof of competency for plumbing and heating engineers has been a debated topic for many years, steps are being taken this year to ensure that gas engineers are able to show that they have the knowledge and competence to isolate the electrical supply to a gas appliance safely. 

It is expected that from July 2020 those presenting themselves for ACS assessment or re-assessment should declare that they have the technical knowledge or experience of safe electrical isolation. A select few ACS assessment centres have remained open with social-distancing measures in place throughout lockdown.

In terms of new policy to be aware of for 2020 and beyond, many will know that in October 2019, the Government set out plans for the Future Homes Standard 2025. It was part of this announcement that the Government proposed the ban on the installation of gas boilers in all new homes by 2025. For plumbing and heating engineers working in the new build sector, an increase in low-carbon technologies into any new property from 2025 is therefore inevitable. 

Closer still is the planned update to Approved Document L of the Building Regulations which is expected to be published later this year, and could see higher energy efficiency standards in homes, as well as the beginnings of a switch to low-carbon heating and renewables. It is also interesting to note that the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) will be updated. The annual average CO2 emission factor of electricity within SAP is proposed to decrease from 0.519 kgCO2/kWh at present to 0.136 kgCO2/kWh, which is well below the 0.210kgCO2/kWh factor of gas. For industry, these changes will mean electricity will become more favourable for heating systems in new build developments in Building Regulations compliance calculations. 

How to keep updated

Aside from paying close attention to proposed changes, many manufacturers, industry bodies and groups, are all taking steps to inform and educate professional heating and plumbing engineers on these industry developments and how best to upskill. The arrival of COVID-19 has presented a new challenge to overcome when it comes to providing installers with all the necessary tools and information, but virtual sessions have helped to address this issue. 

If you have an employer then it is their responsibility to ensure that all staff are trained to follow new government guidance and installation procedures in line with legislation. For those who are self-employed or furloughed and may struggle to keep up with changes, consider joining a professional body or competency scheme for greater assurance that you have access to support and guidance on changes should you need it.

Picking the right training 

Training is one of the very best ways to keep up with current and future legislative changes. Most manufacturers, including Baxi, have robust training programmes designed to cover product information, safety, how to meet the Building Regulations and more. The majority of these training sessions have been moved online since lockdown, to protect attendees and those running the activity to ensure support is still in place. 

For Registered Gas Engineers, electrical safety and proving your competency when going for assessment or reassessment will be vital. Not only will attending a relevant boiler electrics training course online help you to self-validate your skills when being assessed, but it will also benefit your personal health and safety too. In recent years, there have been several incidents where heating engineers have been electrocuted while performing routine work.

If you are nearing the end of your career, it remains important to ensure that any work you do up until you retire fully meets current regulations. A plethora of online continuing professional development (CPD) courses exist to fit around your schedule and cater to those isolating in the pandemic. 

Alternatively, simply selecting a few quality training courses to attend in-person can help you gain a lot of useful knowledge, often taking just one day. While few manufacturers are providing face-to-face training in the current climate, Baxi is in the process of re-opening at least four training centres. More information will be made available about this in the coming weeks. It is expected that these centres will have limited courses and attendees to comply to social distancing and safety guidelines. 

Whatever your career ambitions, it is important to keep on learning in order to make sure that the professional services you offer are safe, reliable and up to standard. Baxi’s Tuseday Training videos provide quick and easy to digest information for those wanting to upskill at home while unable to physically attend the few training days currently running while COVID-19 is still a major concern. 

For more information about training, and access to online videos please visit the Baxi website: www.baxi.co.uk/trade/training-courses

 

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