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Trade association celebrates 90-year anniversary
Published:  01 July, 2015

The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, as it continues to represent the interests of members across England and Wales.

APHC staff celebrated the 90th milestone at its head office in Solihull, West Midlands.

The APHC has seen many developments within the industry, facing many challenges including a World War and several recessions since it was first formed in 1925. Originally named the National Federation of Plumbers and Domestic Engineers, the association took on the industrial and trade interests of the Institute of Plumbing in February 1925 at a meeting held at the Regent Hotel, Leamington.

During this time the organisation's name has altered to reflect shifting membership and advances in the way plumbing and heating have been incorporated into our homes. In 1965 the name was amended to add 'Domestic Heating Engineers' as central heating became more commonplace, then changing again in 1972 to include heating and mechanical services contractors.

In 1996, a rebranding process saw the current name of APHC introduced and, 10 years later, the organisation was restructured to focus on a national level rather than regional and local in response to member needs.

Key milestones and achievements of APHC show how influential they have been in the industry over the last 90 years:

  • During the war years, the organisation worked to safeguard the interests of its members from the consequences of governmental interference. The post-war years brought a new set of challenges such as prefabricated plumbing, trainees and an acute shortage of materials.
  • In the 1970s the Joint Industry Board (JIB) was formed as a platform for negotiating plumbing industry terms and conditions of employment. APHC remains the main employer representative in negotiations today, along with Unite the Union and The National Federation of Builders.
  • In 1975, APHC played a key role in creating a pension scheme designed specifically for the industry. Plumbing Pensions now manages over £1.5bn in assets.
  • APHC was a founding organisation of BPEC in the 1990s to lead on education and training to supply a highly skilled and expert workforce for UK industry.
  • The Association was involved in founding SummitSkills in the 2000s, an employer owned & led standard-setting organisation to maintain standards, qualifications and apprenticeships in an ever-changing skills landscape.
  • APHC has played a key role in qualification delivery and the standard of apprenticeship schemes. Currently it is involved in the Trailblazer scheme - to develop high standard apprenticeships that meet the needs of both employers and apprentices.
  • APHC provides established and recognised multi-skilled certification schemes to streamline reporting for small plumbing businesses, allowing them to participate in new sectors such as the Green Deal Installer and Microgeneration Certification Schemes, as well as self-certificating via the Competent Persons Scheme.

John Thompson, chief executive at APHC, said: "The plumbing industry has changed at an amazing pace over the past 90 years – yet our objectives to represent the sector and raise standards remains at the heart of what we do today. What hasn't altered is society's dependence on clean water supplies and the need for reliable heat in our temperate climate, therefore we'll always need plumbers and heating engineers.

"Advances in green technologies alone in the last 10 years have had a massive impact on members, adapting and up-skilling to meet consumer demands plus changes in government policy. Who knows what challenges our members will face in the next 90 years but we look forward to supporting businesses and the entire industry in the future.”