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Discuss What Knowledge & Skills should a new Plumber have? in the Plumbing Forum area at UKPlumbersForums.co.uk.

  1. chris watkins

    chris watkins Plumber

    What subjects should be taught to new plumbing trainees?
    The new plumbing qualification is only Level 3 what should they know at the end of the training?
    It has got to cover the whole of the country both rural, towns & cities.
    (& don't do the one about the best cup of tea etc please)
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  2. OffshoreGas

    OffshoreGas Active Member

    Having never served an plumbing apprenticeship I don’t know what you come out with. If I were recruiting the industrial equivalent is expect them to have:

    1) basic band tool skills including measuring/marking.

    2) Competent in basic safe electrical installation

    3) understands the principals of pipework and fittings.

    4) a reasonable grasp if physics and maths ideally somewhere around A level equivalent.

    5) a good understanding of the operating principals of instruments and controls.

    6) strong communication skills.

    7) an appreciation for the basics of fault finding.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. CBW1982

    CBW1982 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Hi Chris,

    I still have my heinemann level 3 book (NVQ and Tech Certificate) which teaches the following subjects:

    Customer care
    Hot and cold water
    Unvented hot water systems
    Above ground discharge systems
    Central heating systems (including boilers) - also shows wiring of systems
    Gas safety and supply
    Gas appliances
    Plan work activities - covers design principles etc

    Not sure if this covers the whole country, but it’s what was taught to me (north west England).

  4. chris watkins

    chris watkins Plumber

    Hi CBW
    How relevant was all that to what you do now?
    I know it is difficult looking back cos we all forget stuff will did & learn new stuff. Should we be doing the gas at that stage, what if you were not in a gas area ?
    Was there anything looking back you wish had beed included or stuff you now feel was a waste of time?
    Thanks for your time.
  5. CBW1982

    CBW1982 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Hello Chris,

    So I would say most of it is relevant to what I do now, and some that was relevant, but I suppose isn’t as relevant now - I’m a boiler break down engineer for a local housing trust (which is where I time served). I started as a plumber and none of the unvented dhw, heating and gas was really relevant at the time. Stayed as a plumber for approx 12 years, in which time I lost out on my unvented, and didn’t do much gas or heating work. Now into my 14th year and gas/heating is quite plentiful albeit mainly maintenance, and don’t do a great deal of “plumbing”.

    If I wasn’t in a gas area then I can only assume the college would have taught oil?

    I’m not sure if there’s anything I wish was in the course, the best experience is from working on this stuff on a daily basis - I think partly I regret not going anywhere else job wise as I now feel I lack in certain areas. Most of our boilers are Vaillant combi’s, intergas combi’s, and a few Worcester’s. This leaves me lacking in working on zone valves, programmers, wiring, pumps, true fault finding etc.

    Hope some of this long windedness has made some sense?
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Millsy 82

    Millsy 82 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    When I did my apprenticeship level 2 was all about the fitting side of things so pulling bends, soldering, compression fittings, screwed fittings (iron) installation of cylinders, boilers sanitary ware and so on.

    Level 3 was more designing. We had to design a 4 bed house then had to design the plumbing for the whole house including pipe sizing rad sizes soil pipe requirements and so on we then had to write a list of all the materials required we had to do this using micro bore and small bore pipework copper and plastic it was boring as hell. Later on there was your ccn1 and very very basic electrics ie proving safe isolation. But can't remember much else as I was a stoner back then.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. YorkshireDave

    YorkshireDave Plumber Top Contributor!!

    An interesting post Chris...

    Personally, these days I'd start with people & business skills.

    • People skills would be talking to people. Looking them in the eye, proper listening, (often the unsaid rather than said) treating people with empathy and consideration.
    • Communicating so that you don't shoot yourself in the foot and inadvertently ruin your reputation.
    • The business skills bit is vital too. Knowing how to estimate time, how to charge appropriately
    • Demonstrating how pricing too low kills you business as quickly as not turning up.
    • How listening to your 'inner voice' will save your backside more times than you can possibly imagine.
    • How being utterly honest but putting it across in a sensitive manner can both win friends AND work.
    • Like Like x 4
  8. chris watkins

    chris watkins Plumber

    Maybe we should leave the use of tools & installation etc cos although I would expect some basic technique's to be taught most would be learnt & perfected thought out the site training & is mainly down to the trades people they will be working with.
    Should they still be taught screwed iron ?

    How about just the college theory side, what do you think should be taught as part of the course?
    Is this the knowledge you would want from your training?
    1. Cold & hot water systems - should this include the Water Reg's & Part G (unvented so that they have the tickets on completion) Should it include sizing pipes & storage vessels.
    2. Above ground drainage systems - should this include below ground as well ? at least they should be able to ID separate systems, combined & surface water. How about grease traps, should guttering & RW systems be included ?
    3. Heating systems - should they still learn about gravity systems, how about heatloss calculations manually ? Low Lost Headers & hydraulic separation? Controls - should we be teaching WC / load compensation or just limiting it to the S & Y plan & combi plus ?
    4. Electrical - clearly it is such an everyday part of our work but to what extent? should they understand house wiring systems or just how to connect to a FCU ? Should they be able to understand & wire up an S plan & then fault find on it or is this just too much for them at this stage?
    5. Business studies - should they know how companies are set up & run / managed? Taxed? The high end skills that Dave is after would be wonderful but not sure they could be taught at such a young age although the personal skills could be pushed more, the rest I think come with age & experience.
    What have I missed?

    My son is a Plumber but doesn't want to clear a blocked bog, instead passes it over to the drainage side :(:oops: What is the world coming to?
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Millsy 82

    Millsy 82 Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    I think yes to 1,2,3 should all be taught.

    Electrics should only be basics unless you get some sort of qualifications etc at the end.

    Business management not so much you don't need that to be a plumber, if you want to go self employed then they need to know it so like electrics the basics wouldn't hurt.

    Plumbing is such a broad subject which is why I disagree with these courses that say they can turn you into a plumber in 8 weeks etc.

    Once you finish level 3 then you can further your abilities with doing extra courses like electrics, business management etc but for level 3 concentrate on the main job.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Trusted Plumber GSR

    This is a list of headings from the City and Guilds Thirty-ish years ago.
    Is it the same now, similar or has a lot been removed?
    Plumbing Craft:-

    Complementary Industrial Studies
    Observing Safe Practices
    Interpreting Drawings, Specifications and Data.
    Measurement and Marking Out.
    Cutting and Shaping.
    Bending and Folding
    Fixing and Installing
    Testing and Commissioning
    Preserving and Protecting
    Maintaining, Repairing and Servicing
    Sheet Weathering
    Cold Water Systems
    Domestic Hot Water
    Hot Water Heating Systems
    Above Ground Discharge pipework and Sanitation
    Below Ground Drainage
    Gas Supply
    Electrical Systems
    Complimentary Building Studies
    Basic Physical Quantities, Electricity and Magnetism
    Thermal Movement
    The Principles of Tool Construction and Materials Technology
    Concepts in Chemistry
    Applied Chemistry
    Materials For Industry

    Advanced Craft:-

    Boosted Cold Water and Fire Fighting
    Advanced Hot Water Supply
    Advanced Hot Water Heating
    Advanced Above Ground Discharge Pipework and Sanitation
    Advanced Below Ground Drainage
    Oil Supply Installation and Systems
    Advanced Gas Supply Installation and Systems
    Electrical Controls for Mechanical Engineering Services
    • Like Like x 2
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  11. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Trusted Plumber GSR

    Are you a teacher Chris or am I thinking of another member?
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  12. ShaunCorbs

    ShaunCorbs S. Mod Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    yes they should chris or at least the knowledge to transition to copper

    Yes also gf plastics as these can be worrisome if you’ve never touched before etc

    Should touch on underground but nothing much maybe a day etc

    Rainwater harvesting should be touched aswell

    Yes still a fair few gravity systems about

    And yes heatloss calcs long way aswell as 4 pipe systems and wc

    Wiring wise keep the same wire from a fcu and plans but go more into it eg s plan plus etc And underfloor

    TBH no but offer another business course that goes indept
    • Like Like x 2
  13. chris watkins

    chris watkins Plumber

    That takes me back Last, what a grounding that gave you but not sure how you would find the time to fit it all in along with some of the the more modern bits like LLH's, HIU, U/F & heat pumps etc especially as they don't do the full day & extra evening on the day release any more.
    Mind you I do recall time was wasted on such things as drawing a section through a stop cock & Nuralite roofing plus hours & hours of lead burning mind you I could burn upright by the time I left.
    • Like Like x 2
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  14. chris watkins

    chris watkins Plumber

    Was & possible will be again, I like to keep me hand in. ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Trusted Plumber GSR

    That's true and that's the point isn't it? If you skip basics, you don't always fully understand or think through things in the right way.

    Yes, almost to the point you could do it in your sleep lol.
    • Agree Agree x 1