The call is part of OFTEC’s drive to recruit more young people to careers in the heating industry following concerns that the UK is facing its biggest skills shortage for a generation - a problem which is particularly apparent in the trade sector.
The concern is backed by latest government statistics which show that in the academic year 2013/14, a total of 440,000 apprenticeships were started in England – 70,000 less than the previous year.
OFTEC registrations director, Adrian Lightwood said: “With the economy now picking up, there is a growing demand for skilled tradespeople across the UK. But while there are plenty of roles to be filled, fewer people are taking vocational courses or apprenticeships to bridge the growing gap.
“Skilled tradespeople are of vital importance to our economy and it’s important to remind young people that vocational qualifications and apprenticeships are not a ‘second class’ choice. They can offer a real opportunity to start a rewarding and secure career.”
Apprenticeship schemes combine ‘on the job’ training with high quality college learning to help 16-24 year olds build their careers. Students earn money as they learn, gain qualifications and have the opportunity to develop their skills from an early age by working alongside experienced staff.
Since 2002, OFTEC has run a competent persons scheme that encompasses the training, assessment and registration of technicians working in the oil heating industry. The scheme has recently been extended to cover solid fuel and renewable technologies such as heat pumps and solar thermal, to widen its support for technicians.
OFTEC’s name has become a quality benchmark for installers, technicians and consumers alike but with 66% of OFTEC registered technicians aged over 40 years and only 10% under 30, there’s an urgent need to bring new blood into the industry.
Adrian Lightwood concludes: “For anyone thinking about leaving school at 16, or who doesn’t want to go to university, apprenticeship schemes and vocational courses that place more emphasis on practical skills can be a great option. Consumers are always looking for tradespeople who can demonstrate their professionalism and skills through certification.
“By encouraging a new generation of technicians equipped with the right skills and a pride in carrying out their best work, we can help to ensure the current skills gap is plugged and the industry moves from strength to strength.”
To find out more about a career in the heating industry, call OFTEC on 01473 626 298 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy of the recently revised ‘guide to registration’ booklet.