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Plumbers 'must gain NVQ'

Plumbing chiefs call for Government regulations to ensure 'flood of workers' is properly trained

PLUMBING industry leaders are calling on the Government to introduce tough new regulations to rid the sector of poorly qualified workers.

The plea follows a flood of trainee plumbers tempted by stories of earning more than £50,000 a year.

But approved NVQ courses are already oversubscribed and people are being tempted to sign up with unregulated training providers in a bid to learn the trade.

Leslie Bailey, membership secretary of the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, said: 'It's frightening what is happening at the moment.

'We are getting applications from people to become members who haven't really got a clue what they are doing.

'One guy the other day thought he was a qualified plumber after watching a home study course consisting of three videos.

'He had sat through about six hours of tuition and then thought he was OK to go out and start working.'

The Institute has already rejected more than 50 written applications this year and countless telephone inquiries.

Ms Bailey said: 'Often these people are trying to join so they can use our logo in ads to make them look more qualified.'

The Institute wants to see the Government step in to tighten plumbing regulations.

Ms Bailey said: 'Tough regulations exist in the electrical and gas sectors and we want to see something similar in our industry.'

That call is being backed up by the Plumbing and Heating Industry Alliance, which wants to see all plumbers qualified to NVQ level 2 or 3 - this takes at least two years training.

Chairman Chris Sneath is planning a meeting with the minister for Skills to discuss the situation.Mr Sneath said: 'Our message to people wanting a career in the plumbing industry is to ensure that they get a recognised industry qualification. In our view this is impossible with these short courses.

'Working alone or self-employed from the outset, armed only with limited technical knowledge gained from a fast-track course, is inadequate and could endanger public health and safety.'