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Bolton College Pioneers Green Revolution in Plumbing Education

18 March 2024

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Three years ago, Bolton College took a pioneering step by investing in the latest green technology and equipment for its plumbing department.


This move was in direct response to the increasing demand from local employers for skilled plumbing technicians capable of implementing sustainable green alternatives to traditional heating and hot water systems.


With the government's commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, from 2025 all new homes will require low-carbon heating and hot water systems, driving a continued demand for plumbers with expertise in renewables and sustainable technology. 


"At Bolton College, we recognise that green skills training is paramount in shaping a sustainable future," says Ian Hall, a plumbing tutor, assessor, IQA and resource designer at Bolton College.


"By equipping our apprentices and students with cutting-edge knowledge and hands-on experience in low-carbon technologies, we are not only preparing them for high-quality jobs but also contributing to the fight against climate change."


Bolton College's plumbing department first underwent a transformative upgrade in 2021, incorporating cutting-edge green technologies into its workshops, with the introduction of state-of-the-art equipment such as air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, solar thermal collectors, and more.


This gave the College’s apprentices and students the opportunity to work hands-on with advanced green systems, providing them with practical experience and a deep understanding of sustainable heating technologies.


Recognising the growing urgent demand for skilled professionals in the low-carbon heating sector, Ian then contributed to the inception of a new Low-Carbon Heating Technician Apprenticeship, scheduled to commence in August this year.


Developed by Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), who oversee renewable technologies, and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), the Apprenticeship is specifically tailored to address the growing demand for expertise in green technology.


While the College's existing Apprenticeships and study programmes already incorporate elements of training related to sustainable technologies, this new Apprenticeship marks a significant departure by focusing exclusively on low-carbon heating solutions, preparing apprentices for rewarding careers in renewable energy.


This trailblazing apprenticeship will equip plumbing technicians with the specialised skills essential for designing, installing, and commissioning low-carbon heating technologies.


In addition, Ian is the curriculum development chair of the Growth & Development Group for the Apprenticeship, a committee that oversees the promotion, development, and administration of the programme.


Ian said: "I take great pride in Bolton College’s involvement in the shaping of this Apprenticeship, which marks a significant milestone in the transition towards renewable energy-powered heating systems."


Earlier this year, the Apprenticeship received prestigious recognition, when it was hand-picked by industry experts from IfATE to carry the coronation emblem in honour of King Charles III's Coronation. It is one of only six green Apprenticeships to carry the coronation emblem.


MCS CEO Ian Rippin said: “It is critical that we have dedicated pathways to develop an army of renewable heating installers with certifiable skills who know how to design and fit these systems efficiently. Most importantly, this workforce will know how to support homeowners in heating and decarbonising their homes.”

To support students further, Ian’s website - - offers free resources for plumbing and heating studies, including an aptitude test utilised by organisations like Bolton at Home for staff recruitment.


These resources complement Ian’s and Bolton College's commitment to leading the way in specialist green skills, driving innovation and sustainability in the plumbing industry in Greater Manchester and beyond.