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The next chapter

There’s been a series of positive industry developments in the past month, says Miriam Rodway – not least government apprenticeship approval and the launch of a free e-learning resource

The IOR has supported a series of ambitious training and skills initiatives in the past month designed to ensure trainees have the right knowledge and skills moving forward.

Firstly, there was the welcome news that the proposed Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Engineering Technician Apprenticeship standard had been accepted.

The IOR has been supporting employers working together to regain control of new technician skills standards by the industry. 

There is still a long way to go and a lot more consultation and discussion before we will see the new Apprenticeship Programmes offered at colleges and training centres, but the recognition by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills for the employer trailblazer group is an important first step.

Watch this space for more news of how employers, trainers and professional bodies are going to be involved in setting and maintaining future standards for trainees.

The chairman of the employer group is John Austin-Davies FInstR.

He and the other employers, large and small, representing the variety of our industry, are committed to seeing this new approach through.

Mr Austin-Davies said: “Training to a consistent, and nationally agreed standard, is more important in this industry now than ever before. Our industry is a major energy user, and in addition to the energy consumption there are other very significant environmental aspects, all of which mean that the technology is moving fast.

“We must be confident that we have a well-prepared workforce to install safely and correctly, and maintain working with optimum efficiency.

The Apprenticeship Trailblazer programme is the best opportunity we have to make the step change necessary.”

Helping the workforce

The IOR has launched a new free e-learning resource based on an EU-funded project developed in association with six partner organisations.

REAL Alternatives Europe focuses on safety, reliability and containment of low-GWP alternative refrigerants with an eight-part e-learning course, supported by an online library and range of website downloads.

The IOR launched the English version of the materials on 19 March with an online event.

More than 170 people from 50 countries worldwide registered to attend the webinar, which featured talks from IOR president Graeme Maidment on the importance of containment of any refrigerant, Ray Gluckman sharing his expertise on refrigerant legislation and drivers for change, and Jane Gartshore outlining the training issues related to the safe use of alternatives.    

Professor Maidment commented: “We know that a lot of the barriers to take-up of low-GWP alternatives are to do with learning.

This resource addresses improving knowledge of safety aspects, as well as giving lots of up-to-date information on refrigerant properties, application and efficiency.

“It is based on the pooling of information from experts across Europe and it is totally free to use.

This is a fantastic and much-needed response to refrigerant legislation in Europe. It also allows the Institute of Refrigeration to provide wider access to its technical expertise in a practical way.” 

The materials cover carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon, low flammables such as HFO and R32, as well as ammonia.  They are designed to support companies, trainers and individuals with introductory-level knowledge. 

A recording of the launch event is available on the REAL Alternatives website, together with a resource library and link to sign up to the new e-learning programme at www.realalternatives.eu.feat

Since the launch, there has been significant numbers of registrations for REAL Alternatives demonstrating a real interest in the topic among technicians in the EU – and also in the US, Asia and Africa.

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