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Better training to improve plumbing competency

What we did and why

Our previous research found that a possible cause for quality issues with roofing (stormwater) work is a limited awareness of how and when to design and use a performance solution where a departure from a standard practice is required.

To understand this further, we examined the nationally accredited construction, plumbing and services training packages.

What we found

The research showed that the plumbing qualifications did not effectively train students on how to design alternative solutions supported by evidence, tests, calculations or expert judgement (performance solutions) to comply with the Plumbing Code of Australia. This meant plumbing students graduate with little knowledge of when or how to design performance solutions to solve plumbing design issues or identify when this has been used in previous plumbing work by others.

What difference this made

Competent and skilled plumbers deliver compliant and effective plumbing work. We used the research findings to support our call to improve the skills and competencies of future graduates of plumbing qualifications. We successfully advocated for changes to existing plumbing qualifications.

Our research findings were used to develop a new unit of competency, CPCPCM4015 Access and interpret regulatory requirements for the plumbing and services industry, first released with CPC Construction, Plumbing and Services Training Package (Release 5) in November 2020 and which training providers must commence delivering from November 2022. This new unit is a core unit in the Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services (CPC40920), and a requirement for entry into the Diploma of Hydraulic Services Design (CPC50620) under Release 5 of the training package. It specifies the skills and knowledge required to identify and apply the appropriate plumbing regulatory requirements for the work being carried out, including identifying the difference between Performance Solutions and Deemed to Satisfy (DTS) installations.

To support existing plumbing practitioners, we have included the development and use of performance solutions for plumbing work in the educational materials we provide.