CIPHE's Jerry Whiteley: Engaging and inspiring the next generation

InsightFeatures Thu 1st Jun 2023 by KBBFocus

CIPHE's Jerry Whiteley: Engaging and inspiring the next generation

CIPHE's Jerry Whiteley: Engaging and inspiring the next generation

Jerry Whiteley, technical manager of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE), on the work the institute is doing to promote trades to young people, and why he believes nurturing the next generation is about giving back to an industry that has given to you.

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering is always encouraging young people to seek a career path into our industry through engagement of the next generation. We do this in a variety of ways:

1. Working closely with training providers through our network of Approved Training Centres

2. Supporting competitions, such as HIPLOY or World Skills and others

3. Employer engagement at the local college

Competitions are great fun and allow young people to become confident as well as have the opportunity to gauge themselves against likeminded learners. Competitions are inspirational through the learning and achievements the process involves – at the end, everyone walks away having learned something they thought they couldn’t do.

Our work with young people gives them the opportunity to ask questions directly of industry experts in their field. In the same way, collaboration with employers gives them the chance to ask questions they might not ask in interviews, and allows them to learn from being inspired and aspiring to be like them.

Many young people don’t really know what it means to be a tradesperson – they generally think it’s a hands-on way of earning a living – but the plumbing and heating industry is high tech, and requires knowledge to be just as highly rated as skill. We provide a range of resources to help with learning at all levels to encourage keeping abreast of change, or simply giving young people an idea of what they might be learning in the future.

To encourage more young people into the trades, we need this to happen through schools. At CIPHE, we will be engaging more and more with schools and children at age 14, at options time in 2023 and 2024. School visits can include some hands-on practical elements as well as engagement, using the climate change impact as a channel.

Apprenticeships are the best method of filling the skills gap. Our industry has changed dramatically over the last 30 years to be predominantly sole traders. Anyone thinking about taking on an apprentice knows it costs time and money, and many say this from the start. However, if you can provide someone with a career, then you ought to get that investment back over time. It's all about having a structure in place for the person you are training – they themselves don’t necessarily seek self-employment and the risks that come with it.

Apprenticeships are also sometimes about giving back – giving back to the industry that you have made a good living from for you and your family. It's all about how you go about it. So many people say that once young people have been trained, they just become self-employed at the end of it – if that's the case, then look within and ask why should they wish to leave your employ, and why does the grass appear greener on the other side?

The kitchen and bathroom sector can benefit from promoting its glossy image to young people – everyone admires a new bathroom or kitchen. These two key areas of expenditure in a dwelling are not cheap and require excellent skills of the highest standards. They also have plenty of technology involved with equipment, as well as environmental impact savings built in. Kitchens and bathrooms are the finished article and have a big visual impact in a dwelling – the pride in the workmanship is there for all to see.

The retail sector would benefit from engaging with their local colleges and taking on work placements, and likewise for trades (try before you buy). Young people tend to want to find structure in their lives and regularity – once they have had a taste of employment in a positive environment, they tend to stick with what they know. Everyone is different – we just have to engage and provide the guidance.

Tags: insight, features, jerry whiteley, ciphe, chartered institute of plumbing and heating engineering

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