RACHP-TrailblazerUK: The UK air conditioning, refrigeration and heat pump industry is being encouraged to embrace the new RACHP Engineering Technician apprenticeship scheme.

Launching the industry’s new Trailblazer apprentice scheme last week, John Ellis of Ellis Training and one of those behind the new scheme, said, “This is a great opportunity for our industry to take advantage of this initiative to prepare our apprentices for a better tomorrow. We should grab it with both hands.”

The new scheme has been in preparation since 2014 and is based on a Standard and Assessment Plan developed by employers under the government Trailblazer scheme in 2015.  It will replace the existing Building Services Apprenticeships for the RACHP sector for new starts in September 2016, with a Standard designed specifically for those working in refrigeration air conditioning and heat pumping.

There will be strong emphasis in the new standard on fundamental scientific principles and the application of knowledge in a range of technologies relevant to the work of the apprentice.  All apprentices will be assessed to the same standard and evaluated independently by a group of industry experts before they can receive their Apprenticeship Certificate and be recognised as a competent Engineering Technician, eligible to apply for Engineering Council Registration through the Institute of Refrigeration.

The new scheme is basically an amalgamation of C&G Level 2 (6187) and Level 3 (7189) plus an F-gas qualification. There are, however, a number of fundamental differences as to how this will be achieved. The new apprenticeship will typically be for three years – 80% on the job and 20% off the job at college on a typical one-day per week arrangement. The employer will also have far greater involvement during the apprenticeship period. The apprentice will keep a workbook in which he will chart his progress and those notes will be authenticated by the employer. 

The ultimate apprenticeship endpoint assessment will comprise an online exam, a practical exam over two to three days and the submission of the apprentice’s workbook for assessment by an independent panel.

Employers in England will be able to apply for a grant with 1:2 employer to government funding. For the RACHP apprenticeship the government funding cap has been set at £6,000, requiring a further £3,000 contribution from the employer. If the apprenticeship should exceed £9,000, the employer will be required to pay the extra.

Acknowledging that the requirement for properly trained RACHP engineers will only increase, ACRIB chairman David Bostock said, “We need the best people at all levels: the right people, the right skills and the right behaviour.”

A list of organisations that have been assessed by the Skills Funding Agency as end-point assessment  can be found here.

City & Guilds is a registered assessment organisation for the RACHP trailblazer scheme. Find out more here.