What would minimum qualification standards mean for the plumbing industry?

Imagine the scene: you’ve got a plumbing emergency that you need resolving quickly. You need to find the right plumber for the job; you search frantically online trying to find the best tradesman in your area. Case closed, right?  But what happens if the service you received doesn’t quite match the price you paid?

Finding the right plumber to service your home can be tricky. After all, unless you have some handy connections, you’re most likely searching for a tradesman through word-of-mouth and the magic of the internet.

Naturally, you’re going to want to find somebody with the right qualifications that you can trust to do the job. Unfortunately, formal training qualifications aren’t always the mark of a good plumber. That’s why at Multipipe, we’re passionate about enforcing minimum qualification standards.

A national standard for plumbers

The first question you’ll probably ask is: what are minimum qualification standards and how would they be enforced?

Whether or not plumbing is an easy profession, it’s certainly a popular one – it’s currently estimated that around 120,000 UK residents are registered as a plumber or heating engineer. The wealth of tradespeople in this profession means there’s a considerable risk of variable quality.  The role of a plumber, or heating engineer, is highly-skilled and they ensure the work they carry out is completed to the highest of standards so that homeowners are safe in their homes.  Whilst many plumbers are self-employed and work from home, there are  great number of experienced, qualified plumbers that work for a range of businesses and organisations.

What qualifications are plumbers currently required to have?

Though heating systems were previously straightforward, they have advanced in complexity over the years due to technological developments. This, in turn, is driven by the demand for saving fuel or using alternative fuels. As a result, our heating systems have become more and more sophisticated.

Because of the higher level of technicality within heating and plumbing systems, it’s no surprise that plumbers are required to have a formal qualification to show they understand the tricks of the trade, if you will.

Any professional organisation will require plumbers to have:

  • A Level 3 NVQ (National Vocational Qualification).
  • At least 3 to 5 years of experience.

This is especially important for any plumber looking to start their own plumbing service or business. In addition, any plumbers-to-be can attend a 6-week course in order to declare themselves a plumber. This usually costs around £100.

However, though membership of the CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering) is highly advisable for professional plumbers to prove their competency and professional status.  Indeed, to be a member of CIPHE, they have to prove a level of competency.  For a trainee wanting to join the CIPHE, they must be studying for an approved academic qualification at an accredited training centre.  There are four further membership levels – Affiliate, Associate, Member and Fellow – each of which require a minimum NVQ Level qualification, or City & Guilds Craft Certificate, be registered with the Engineering Council, and/or have extensive experience.

At Multipipe Solutions, we believe there should be minimum qualification standards for professionals in the plumbing industry. It’s our BHAG – read on to find out what this means!

Our vision, our BHAG

So what is a BHAG, and what is Multipipe’s BHAG?

For anyone not in the know, BHAG is an acronym for a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It was developed by Jim Collins in his book, Built to Last.

Simply put, a BHAG is one of the most powerful ways to provoke progress. It’s a simple concept that is easily explained, easily understood and compelling. Some of the best BHAGs will be composed of a small idea with a big impact. The best ones will comprise long-term, sustainable planning and a sense of immediacy.

In this way, a BHAG presents an idea to ultimately be achieved, mapping out the steps needed each day to get there. For Multipipe, our BHAG is to provide you with quality services by raising the operational standards of UK plumbers.

We believe that plumbers deserve respect and support in order to provide you with the most efficient service. Therefore, implementing a national standard that each plumber must reach, as a minimum requirement, ensures the industry is filled with good-quality, dedicated tradespeople.

Minimum qualification standards would provide plumbers and you, the service users, with value and respect.

Why increase minimum qualification standards for UK plumbers?

 
Multipipe’s mission is to provide a service that has meaning and gives something positive back to an important industry and its service users!

Multipipe Solutions believe that improving the standard of professionals in the industry will increase our society’s perception of the trade, providing customers with confidence, trust and satisfaction. We believe that you deserve the best.

This can be achieved by mandating a National Standard; all professional plumbers would need to meet this standard in order to operate. What’s more, in order to own or run your own plumbing company, this would require a Higher National Standard, similar to the system that operates in Germany.

Continue reading to hear about all the benefits of minimum qualification standards!

The benefits of a national standard for the plumbing industry

So why should the industry adopt minimum qualification standards? The introduction of such a regulation only serves to increase trust and integrity within the community, and this would happen in four key ways.

No cowboy tradespeople

Ever come across a plumber you weren’t too sure about? Has your home been serviced by someone you’d describe as a ‘cowboy tradesman’? Unfortunately, it does happen in a small number of instances and this tarnishes the industry with a perception of deceit and distrust.

While this reputation exists, homeowners are understandably hesitant to hire professional tradespeople, and thus will try their hand at DIY, often unsuccessfully. As we mentioned before, the intricacies of plumbing technology have only increased over time. As a result, professional advice and servicing is often required in order to fix even the simplest of plumbing jobs.

By applying a National Standard as a minimum level of training for all plumbers, the perception of quality, trust and professionalism would increase. This therefore increases respect for plumbers and the cost of their services.
 

Impact for carbon neutrality

A minimum qualification standard for plumbing would help the industry become greener and more eco-conscious. As the industry is evolving all the time, the specific knowledge required to best service customers will also evolve.
One clear example of this is the design of hydroponic installations. If the proposed national standard were to provide a thorough, detailed level of specialist training to each plumber, these installations would be made possible.

As a result, the quality of the work undertaken would vastly improve; this would help to achieve carbon neutrality and lessen the impact of global warming by moving buildings to carbon net-zero.

If you’re keen on all things green, perhaps you’ll want to back this standard!

A community within the industry

The final impact of introducing minimum qualification standards would be to strengthen and develop the sense of community felt within the plumbing industry. This is common to multiple trade sectors, but especially plumbing.

With the use of Multipipe’s BHAG and the goal of working towards a National Standard, plumbers could work together and share ideas to collectively solve problems in the industry, making it a safer, more trusting and a more collaborative space.