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Breeding a new band of cowboys

AGENDA

WOULD you let yourself be operated on by a surgeon who had studied for less than two months? Or put your car into a garage where the chief mechanic was just weeks into the job?

Of course not. But members of the public are unwittingly putting their faith in an unqualified army of plumbers whose sole driving force is making a fast buck.

Plumbing - unlike the gas and electrical sectors - is not strictly regulated, which has created a haven for the get-richquick merchants.

Construction is crying out for new tradespeople. But for many the traditional route of learning a trade under a proper apprenticeship or studying for NVQ qualifications holds little appeal.

They would rather take a few short cuts and start earning as quickly as possible.

Why wait around for at least two years to learn to do the job properly when you can be up and running almost instantly?

A whole industry has now been created to magically transform someone who doesn't know one end of a wrench from the other into a proper plumber within weeks.

But the people spewing out of these fast-track lessons and correspondence courses aren't qualified tradespeople.

At best, they are talented DIYers. But at worst they pose a real danger to the public as they bumble around boilers and heating systems thumbing through their class notes.

The Government seems to be standing back while we 'train' a new generation of cowboys who will drag construction's image through the gutter once more.

Plumbing should be regulated like other sectors.

Being confident that someone is qualified before they start playing around with your pipes shouldn't be too much to ask.