It doesn’t seem too long ago when we were preparing for last year’s winter and now here we are again, getting ready for another cold season. So, what has happened in the interim?
We have seen the launch of government assisted grants for the installation of retrofit heat pumps through Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). We have seen greater demand on our installers from Engineers Ireland wanting more compliance certification with new builds. We have seen greater demand from customers looking to carry out improvement works on their homes while more builders are seeking our industry members to expand plumbing and heating systems in the extension and renovation business. All in all, we have seen tremendous growth within the sector with very little corresponding growth in the numbers of plumbers and installers.
Commenting on this, Richie Burke, HAPAI Director said, “It is great to see the apprenticeship schemes growing again but I don’t think it is near enough to keep up with the increasing demand on labour. Unfortunately, we are some years away from having unsupervised labour to cope with the additional demand. We currently need more skilled and qualified labour to cope with the additional workloads. Higher labour costs are also having a significant impact on the smaller business and therefore, it is more difficult for small companies to grow.”
HAPAI Director, Shane Henderson said, “HAPAI has been working closely with engineers seeking a format to sign off on the plumbing and heating works in new builds. Currently, the use of ancillary certificates is normal practice however, most engineers find that due to the complexity of our trade, their ancillary certificates are too basic. HAPAI is currently working on an industry accepted Certificate of Conformance for this purpose which will be available soon to all its members.”
Another increase on demand is for the HAP scheme (Housing Assistance Payment), whereby a recipient of HAP requires the property they reside at to meet a minimum requirement set out by the local authority. Gas installation certification is already satisfied by the Registered Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII) however, off-grid properties with oil fired installations are now required to have a similar certification. OFTEC is currently the accepted scheme but there are not as many registered technicians as is needed. Training to the requirements of Irish building regulations is now provided within the apprenticeship scheme and HAPAI is looking to develop and commence a registered competency scheme to deal with this area of the industry.
On a less upbeat note, it was disappointing that Budget 2019 saw the removal of the HRI scheme (Home Improvement Incentive). The scheme was a great success and an excellent incentive for homeowners to carry out home improvements such as boiler and heating system upgrades.
As HAPAI’s membership and industry participation continues to grow, we will soon be launching our quarterly member newsletter. The newsletter will have industry updates, product improvement information, training information and much more. It will be available electronically and will be automatically sent out to all HAPAI full members. HAPAI offers three membership types; associate membership which is currently free of charge, full membership at a cost of only e50 per annum and corporate membership.
For more information, to keep up to date and to join the Heating & Plumbing Association of Ireland, please visit www.hapai.ie