The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is passionate about highlighting underexplored routes into the heating and plumbing industry.
Richard Soper, director of development at the CIPHE, discusses the benefits of embracing ability equality and finding opportunities for people with disabilities.
The Lay of the Land
The most recent available UK data from the Department of Work and Pensions shows that only 52% of adults who live with one or more disability are employed. This is better than previous years and is continuing to move in a positive direction. However, the disadvantages disabled people face become clearer when we compare the number of employed adults with disabilities with the number of employed adults without a disability. Approximately 81% of adults who do not have a disability are currently in work, revealing an employment disparity of 29%.
It is, unfortunately, more complicated than those numbers show. Those living with disabilities who are in employment are likely to be in part-time work, and therefore on less money than their full-time colleagues. If a person has multiple disabilities, they tend to find it even harder to secure a meaningful permanent job. To establish equality for those with disabilities, whether learning or otherwise, we need to raise awareness of appropriate opportunities and create viable routes into the heating and plumbing industry.
Blazing a Trail
One company that is an excellent example is County Enterprises (CE). Based in Worcestershire, CE is a packaging and metal fabrication workshop with multiple customers in the heating and plumbing sector. They provide work opportunities for people with disabilities in a bid to disprove stigmas.
The work undertaken by the staff at CE is endorsed by their customers – including some CIPHE Industrial Associates. Many speak highly of the attention to detail and consistent top quality that they deliver.
Aside from a wage, CE’s staff gain structure, independence, and community. An often underserved and underrepresented part of society has a better quality of life thanks to the willingness of CE to focus on helping them find suitable opportunities.
On the Horizon
Learning Disabilities Awareness week gives us an opportunity to consider how the sector can make steps to improve ability equality in the future. CE has shown that this is a reachable goal that does not require any trade-off in terms of professionalism or proficiency.
The raising of industry standards has always been a cause worth advocating for and the CIPHE has long championed the exploration of new routes into heating and plumbing. As such, the CIPHE continues to offer support to those creating new routes into the industry and hopes to see awareness of opportunities increase, equality improve, and a general betterment of our industry as a whole.
Find out more about the CIPHE by visiting: ciphe.org.uk.