The new apprenticeship, co-launched by ACRIB, the Institute of Refrigeration and employers as part of the national apprenticeship objectives, focuses on practicalities and fundamentals of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps to help apprentices develop their careers.
Employer Recognition and Involvement
Employers, such as Sainsbury’s, Carter Synergy, Star Refrigeration, Space Engineering, Daikin, Mitsubishi Electric, Adcock and Integral, have got behind the apprenticeship to help them fill skills gaps in their businesses.
The government is supporting the scheme with funding through its national apprenticeship scheme. Employers have to contribute a third of the cost for the three-year scheme, the cap for which is £9,000. The government will fund the remaining two-thirds (i.e. up to £6,000).
Work On Anything, Practically
Much of the apprentices learning will be ‘on the job’. In fact, the scheme is about 80% hands-on where apprentices will have to implement theories learnt with their employers and training organisations for real.
John Ellis, from Ellis Training, who is part of the team that brought the apprenticeship together, stated:
“I’m keen on fundamentals. Without the basic knowledge in place, we can’t build anything properly.”
“The basic principles that I was taught in the ‘60s have not changed at all. The refrigerants have changed, and the compressors are more efficient. But, the fundamentals have not changed. Our job in training apprentices is to ensure they understand the basic and learn how to implement them.”
“We have not really tested apprentices over many years if they can apply the basic principles. Most people have the knowledge. But, not many people can use the knowledge they have.We need to sure they can apply the basic knowledge.”
“Application of skills and knowledge are essential. Having knowledge alone is too limited. Applying knowledge is fundamental.”
“We give people certificates but they only tell people they have passed an examination. And, that is not good enough. This is what the new apprenticeship scheme addresses. Employers have to be involved in the development of the apprentice."
What do the industry training companies think about the new apprenticeship?
"Our industry has needed to regain control of its own apprenticeship schemes for a long time. The Trailblazer process will allow us to return to a tried and tested method of training and assessing with the final qualification being ‘signed off’ by an industry panel of experts. The return of the pass, merit and distinction is a positive step forwards."
"The financing mechanism also appears simpler making it easier for employers and training organisations to draw down funding."
"One word of caution to the employers, they need to provide ongoing training and support to the mentors, they are a critical ingredient to apprentice development and success."
Addressing the Skills Void
Importantly, the final assessments of the Eng Tech apprenticeship, the so-called ‘End Point Assessment’, focus on an apprentice’s behaviours, as well as their skills and knowledge. The aim is that apprentices will have developed communication skills, shown adaptability, taken responsibility and demonstrated self-motivation too.
Representing employers and Chairman of the industry group, ACRIB, David Bostock from Integral explained his perspective on the Eng. Tech. said:
“How do we attract the right people into our industry?
“Not by money. We need to show a higher position, show a clear career path, raise the standards, recognition and status of apprentices entering the industry.
“The new Eng. Tech shows a vision for career development where engineers can come in with apprenticeships, and move to Eng. Tech. and then to becoming Chartered Engineers, should they wish to do so.”
Connecting with Young People
"It's long been an IOR objective to work to improve standards and provide suitable routes encourage young engineers and I am delighted that this both come together under the Trailblazer.
"It is a great example of industry working together with support from the IOR to address an issue critical to our future. It is also an illustration of what the IOR is doing to support technicians and engineers at all levels and it is important that we continue to engage and grow our membership to represent the whole of the RACHP industry."
The RACHP Engineering Technician Trailblazer Apprenticeship starts in September and will be available through selected training centres, colleges and employers that have signed up to the scheme.