The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has appointed Tracey Richardson as its first female national president.
Formerly an RAF aircraft technician, Richardson served 22 years before discharging as a Sergeant with engineering and aeronautical engineering qualifications and subsequently served a plumbing apprenticeship.
In her address, Richardson spoke of her experience entering Further Education as a plumbing lecturer, along with her concerns for standards within FE teaching: “The quality of delivery in some colleges worries me and I have often raised this concern to others. Don’t get me wrong, some colleges and centres do a really good job but it appears that we are coming across quite a few that are falling well short of the mark.”
Having discussed issues surrounding Trailblazer apprenticeships, including areas of the plumbing industry being ignored, she spoke about helping experienced workers with knowledge and skills but no formal qualifications.
Richardson said: “If we want to address the issue of getting our industry more regulated and helping those with ‘Granddad’s rights’ to gain formal qualification sin the smoothest way possible, then this in turn should also possibly go some way towards addressing the issues surrounding the ‘cowboy’ plumbers.
“It’s quite a scary thought that anyone could enter a customer’s house and call themselves a plumber but with no formal qualification to back it up, and very few customers would be bothered to check. This is one of the key areas I would like to try and help address in my term in office.”
Speaking on being named the first female president, Richardson commented: “I feel extremely proud to be our Institute’s first female president but I don’t want this to detract from the role. Yes, I would love to see other women following my lead and yes I do want to encourage more females into the industry, but simply by using a subtler approach of just showing there are no barriers to what you can achieve in life, only the ones you put there. But that rule applies to anyone – male or female.”