The National Gas Centre for Excellence (NGCFE) has opened its doors to tackle the national shortage in qualified heating engineers.
Managing director Michael Hunt said the 6,000 sq. ft state-of-the-art centre in Featherstone, West Yorkshire, aims to drive up standards by providing an alternative to the tick box approach of many other training centres.
The high-quality training and assessment programmes will be delivered to nationally-recognised standards and is focused on the needs of the engineer – from those just completing basic training to fully qualified engineers wishing to update their certificates. Its courses cover gas, plumbing and health and safety.
Michael, who is himself a qualified heating engineer, said he has had first-hand experience of the ‘production line’ approach to training.
He said: “The National Gas Centre for Excellence provides an alternative to the tick box approach to training which often fails to offer the depth of knowledge and theory that is required.”
Just under £200,000 has been invested to equip the centre – which is situated close to the M62 and A1 – while its directly employed trainers and assessors all have a wealth of industry experience.
The centre delivers an array or practical experience, with workshop and classroom spaces fully kitted out with the latest heating, ventilation, and plumbing technology.
In addition, a large area has been allocated for future training requirements involved in the renewable sector, including hydrogen heating systems.
Michael added: “More than half of all qualified gas engineers are aged over 55 and as they leave or retire, they are not being replaced at a fast-enough rate.
“As a result, we want to provide a quality alternative to the many fast-track training centres that sprang up as a result.
“I’m determined to set new standards of excellence when it comes to training and customer service to encourage more people into what is a rewarding career.”
“While the majority of the UK’s homes continue to use gas boilers, they will eventually be replaced by new heating technologies, such as hydrogen and electric heat pumps – which will require fully-trained engineers to install, maintain and repair them.
“The gas engineer’s skills and expertise are transferable and will be in huge demand as this country continues its transition to a low carbon future.
Michael added: “We are doing things differently here at NGCFE, the engineers are our customers and we really care about the quality of training they receive and the overall experience they have when they visit our centre, which we believe to be the best in the UK. There will always be a bacon sandwich and fresh filter coffee on tap for all of the guys who come to us for their training!”
“Whilst we will initially provide all the current mandatory training requirements for heating and plumbing, including ACS/CCN1, we are also preparing for the technologies of the future.”