New task forces supports apprentice training

A joint effort between the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbers’ Federation (SNIPEF) and colleges is helping to ensure that apprentices are able to continue to learn their trade during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the start of the shutdown, SNIPEF has taken steps to ensure that the Modern Apprenticeship in Plumbing and Heating is able to carry on with a minimum of disruption. Its approach has been to establish combined SNIPEF/college task forces to create online alternative assessment practices for the theory work the students must undertake.

The task forces comprise SNIPEF staff in partnership with other key stakeholders in a range of disciplines from the industry and the educational sector, including IT professionals as well as representatives from bodies such as the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Dale Thomson, training manager at SNIPEF, says: “Most apprentices have been furloughed and the colleges have shut down or are running at very limited capacity. As a result, alternative assessment models have had to be put in place. The Plumbing and Heating qualification comprises a mix of practical and theoretical work and the online alternative assessments the task forces have created will be with colleges shortly, so that they can be used by apprentices before the end of term.”

Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of SNIPEF, adds: “As a result of their commitment and cooperation, apprentices will be able to progress with their qualification and reduce the amount of catch up work required as the sector restarts and colleges re-open.”

Sam Thomson, curriculum manager for plumbing, electrical installation and schools at Glasgow Kelvin College and a senior SQA verifier says apprentices are at a critical stage in their education and it is important to keep disruption to their training to a minimum. He says:

“The task forces have achieved a great deal in a very short space of time and once a satisfactory alternative is in place for the theory assessments, they will turn their attentions to the issues related to practical assessments.”

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