Working relationships and partnerships
One of the most important aspects associated with plumbing is the effectiveness of working partnerships between all the elements of the profession, colleges and other training providers.
As a principal, this was always something I encouraged, but there was always the danger that colleges and staff could become preoccupied and inward looking with internal issues and as a result neglect external links. This was often associated with financial cuts or problems with employers, plumbing companies and associated industries. Often some college senior staff and heads of department did not encourage their staff to develop strong and continuous links with external employers and practitioners being often reluctant to cover costs associated with attending conferences and seminars. College staff needs to be encouraged and supported by the senior staff. The principal has a major role to play in requiring their staff to encourage, develop and sustain effective partnerships and relationships with those representing the college’s disciplines and subjects.
But problems do arise as partnerships and relationships often become weakened for a number of reasons. The professional institutes have a major role to play here encouraging strong and continuous relationships through its own activities and publications. One important aspect is conferences and seminars held locally, regionally and nationally. Also the more progressive colleges and training providers staged such events for other colleges and training providers. A particularly important activity is the exchange of staff between colleges and the plumbing industries, inviting practitioners into colleges so they can see how the college operates and equally important is for college staff to visit plumbing establishments and make contact with practising plumbers so they really understand the latest developments within the profession, such as modular/off-site construction and the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the use of robots. It is a two-way affair with both parties benefitting from strong and meaningful partnerships but they need commitment and the necessary investment of time.
By Dick Evans, CIPHE Education and Training Group