“Having run many of these catch-up and update sessions in the last couple of years, I was hopeful the turnout would be good but on the day, the number of representatives from IA members in attendance was approaching the highest we have ever had the pleasure to welcome.
“While Thomas Dudley Ltd is a fantastic central location to hold an event, I am pleased to say that the amplified audience for the last IA event was definitely due to judgement more than luck – not the other way round. I say this because, since Christmas, there has been a huge amount of work taking place at the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering to re-engage with its IA supporters and encourage participation in events like the quarterly Development Group meetings to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
“Clearly, these efforts are now starting to pay off and while we may only be at the start of what is an ambitious five to ten year plan to raise the profile of the CIPHE and grow its membership base, it was especially encouraging to see the faces of several well-known managing directors and marketing directors from within the plumbing and heating industry looking back at me when I stood up to deliver my progress update.
“So what has changed? Well, since the start of this year the Promotions Group that was formed to work more closely with Kevin Wellman and his team at HQ, has really swung into action. Together, the people in this group represent approximately 300 years of industry experience and with my colleagues Richard Soper, Roger Webb and Yvonne Orgill, we have all been out and about meeting anyone and everyone with a vested interest in the plumbing and heating industry.
“From visiting leading manufacturers, builders’ merchants and some major contractor businesses - both members and non-members to explain the benefits of being part of the CIPHE - to meeting up with lecturers and taking the time to look around colleges to understand how plumbing courses are being delivered to young adults, a significant amount of time has been spent reconnecting with people since January.
“On the whole, our discussions have centred on the importance of getting businesses on board as IA members to join the CIPHE in its mission to raise the profile of the industry beyond the industry, with the aim of laying solid foundations for years to come. From the discussions we’ve had so far, there appears to be a general consensus that something needs to be done to raise the profile of what is becoming an industry with an aging demographic in order to encourage fresh talent into the sector.
“One particularly hot topic we regularly find ourselves talking about is how to make the industry more attractive to school leavers who are often told that university is the best next step toward a future career. While university is a choice, there are some excellent apprenticeships schemes out there too, so if we don’t start to recruit more young people into plumbing and heating related careers now I wonder what the industry will look like in 20 years time?
“As well as championing apprenticeships, other discussions have also touched upon the need to encourage and instil pride in the profession with the launch of the CIPHE’s ‘Proud to be a Professional’ campaign this year. Everyone has a part to play in getting this message across to those already working in the trade, as the valuable work being carried out by plumbing and heating engineers to help safeguard the safety and health of the general public is still sadly often overlooked.
“For all of the aforementioned reasons, the fact that so many high-profile industry-leaders gave up their valuable time to attend our last Industrial Associates Development Day was absolutely more judgement than luck - and it feels very good to say that. However, if we are going to continue to turn the tide, I hope even more colleagues can join us for our next IA event, which is being held at Worcester, Bosch Group on 6th July. If you are ‘Proud to be a Professional’ and would like to know more about what’s happening at the CIPHE, I look forward to seeing you there.”