Training The Next Generation

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For heating engineers ongoing training is of upmost importance, but for young people entering the industry for the first time it’s essential to ensuring a successful career.

Paul Clancy, MD at Baxi Potterton Myson, explains how apprenticeships are helping to shape upcoming engineering talent.

2016 was all about economic growth, with an upturn in construction meaning that there has been cause for optimism in the building industry. However, while there seems to be a positive outlook ahead, the future won’t be without challenges. The reality is that Ireland must invest in the next generation and continue to address the skills gap, in order to ensure the country continues to prosper.

For the heating sector nurturing fresh talent has never been more important. Here, apprenticeships offer a valuable option as independent heating and plumbing businesses respond to increased demand for their services. A route for people to ‘learn while they earn’, apprenticeships open up new opportunities to those who may not otherwise be able to afford to train in their chosen career. At the same time, employers report short and long term benefits to their business, which include supplying the team with an additional resource while developing new talent streams.

As well as being an affordable and accessible route to expanding a small business, apprentices can help to overcome the challenge of keeping the expertise of longserving staff in the business after they move on or retire. From our own experience, we know that teams made up of apprentices and veteran staff drive innovation and new ideas while improving quality in the long run. Once a new recruit is RGII/Gas Safe registered – whether that’s a qualification they have earned through an apprenticeship or through a different route – it can be worth cementing a commitment to ongoing training and development by putting a simple training plan into place. While training on the job is normally a given, a plan can provide structure and a point of reference for the individual and their manager. And given that such a tool can help to embed a culture of best practice within the business and help employees to feel valued, it’s an approach that should be extended to the whole team.

A sample training plan might include a checklist of focus areas, both for the business and for the individual, and a section for agreed actions. To maintain momentum, it’s worth agreeing that the individual will complete a minimum number of training actions in a set period – for instance, attending a training course once per quarter. To avoid this becoming an administrative nightmare, the onus for sourcing training options should be on the trainee. However, business owners or managers should be involved in setting a maximum number of training actions to ensure that they are deliverable in terms of time away from the job and any monetary investment. While some professionals still believe training to be a costly exercise, free of charge courses from leading manufacturers can help to reduce, if not entirely avoid, fees. Specialist paid-for courses can be planned in as a second stage to fit in with business planning.

Apprenticeships represent a valuable route into the heating industry, which will only become more important as the construction sector continues its recovery. However, by making training a watch word for the whole team, owners of heating and plumbing businesses have an opportunity to foster a commitment to upskilling staff in the long run, meaning a happier workforce and happier customers as a result.

Baxi Potterton Myson offers free and paid-for training courses at our modern HQ in Dublin.

For further information visit www.baxipottertonmyson.ie/ trade-area/training.htm

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