< Expert Advice | 07.11.2017

First among equals

First among equals

Installers First was launched in May 2017 with the aim of creating a community of professional accredited heating installers. We chatted to Laurah Hutchinson-Strain, head of media at the Energy and Utilities Alliance, about the vision behind the scheme.

TELL US ABOUT INSTALLERS FIRST – WHO ESTABLISHED IT AND WHAT ROLE DOES IT PLAY IN THE HEATING AND PLUMBING INDUSTRY?

Simply put, Installers First is the voice of installers, for installers, by installers. It is administered by the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council – part of the Energy and Utilities Alliance – but the ‘voice’ of installers comes directly from professionally accredited ‘gas installer champions’, who actively feed into all plans and activities.

The increased use of online platforms has enabled heating engineers from across the country to come together, share expertise, discuss ideas and industry issues as well as have a good laugh, which is much needed in what can at times be an isolated job.

Social media in particular is changing the industry as we know it. That said, there is still only a fraction of installers online, or online for business purposes, but I think they will catch up. When they do, a fantastic community of like-minded installers, merchants, manufacturers and wider industry representatives will be there to welcome them.

WHY WAS INSTALLERS FIRST INTRODUCED?

Feedback received via social media and at the Installers First launch event in May shows that installers do not feel listened to.

Gas Safe engineers need a voice up, down and across the industry. They need to communicate effectively with each other, with the government, with manufacturers and anyone else who has an influence on their livelihood.

How can they do this? Well, the reality is that they must remain aware of, and be prepared to respond to, a variety of changes from external factors. Government policy, European legislation, building regulations, gas safety; the list goes on… It has never been more important for everyone in the industry to get involved and provide a constructive contribution.

Research also shows that installers find searching for all the information they need difficult, often resulting in them going to various different sources. We have tried to model our website to reflect this and provide all the information installers need in one place. We add to our resources section regularly and produce consumer guides for installers to use, at their request.

What’s more, the gas industry is seen by some as congested. Congested with regulations, policy, schemes, accreditations, processes and rogues. Installers First wants to help bridge the gap between those who do the job and those who affect it, ensuring common sense and the voice of the industry is applied and listened to.

WHAT HAS INSTALLERS FIRST DONE SINCE LAUNCHING?

Installers First has been busy gathering industry feedback over the past few months. That feedback has been used to identify three key ambitions:

  • Training and skills: To review and improve current industry access to training and ensure it meets the needs of the job
  • Bureaucracy: To simplify the system, utilise industry expertise and experience, and improve consumer awareness of Gas Safe
  • Safety and standards: To increase focus on driving up standards across the industry, ensuring safety is paramount. We’ve already got a couple of projects in the pipeline and will be sharing these ideas with Installers First members to ensure our focuses are in line with theirs

WHY SHOULD INSTALLERS REGISTER WITH INSTALLERS FIRST?

It costs nothing to be a part of it and the benefits are fantastic:

  • It gives you a forum for raising industry concerns, with the right people, at the right time
  • It is independently operated
  • It will help you to keep up to date with government plans and industry news via a dedicated website, social media presence and e-bulletins
  • You can have your say by responding to consultations from the government, Ofgem and other bodies that affect your work
  • It will provide you with a link to the wider professional installer community
  • Access to boiler manuals, all in one place

By coming together, we will make a real change and the voice of the installer will be heard.

Visit www.installersfirst.co.uk and register your email address to stay up to date. Follow us on Twitter @InstallersFirst; join us on Facebook at ‘Installers First’; and tweet/post industry issues using #InstallersFirst or #InstallersUnite

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