SNIPEF Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation

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  Who is involved in apprenticeships in Scotland? Become a Plumber  
Plumbing Apprenticeships:
Scotland >
Northern Ireland >

Who is involved in apprenticeships in Scotland?

College Training Centre Update Information
The only industry approved training programme for plumbing apprenticeships in Scotland is the SNIJIB Modern Apprenticeship Programme which leads on to completion of the apprenticeship and to grading as an approved plumber. The MA Programme is managed by SNIPEF Training Services Ltd the plumbing Industry's Training Provider. The terms and conditions of the programme aim to regulate: the entry, conditions of service, training and education of apprentices in the Plumbing Industry and also to ensure that apprentices are trained to the standards set by the SNIJIB and the National Occupational Standards (NOS).

The various organisations involved in the development, control and delivery of plumbing apprenticeships in Scotland are:

Building Services Engineering (BSE) Skills Ltd

SNIPEF in conjunction with SELECT and The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) have created a joint body called BSE Skills Ltd, which has been appointed to review the National Occupational Standards for the building services engineering sector and also intends to manage and develop the related apprenticeships and qualifications.

BSE Skills Ltd takes over from SummitSkills the former Sector Skills Council for the Building Services Sector which ceased to operate in 2017.



Instructus is the UK’s largest cross-sector apprenticeship authority. Since 1996 it has been the sector body for business skills training, ensuring that apprentices continue to learn the skills that employers need. Plumbing apprenticeships are registered with Instructus which issues the Modern Apprenticeship Certificate when an apprentice achieves the Vocational Qualification.


SNIPEF (Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers' Federation) is the trade association for plumbing and heating businesses based in Scotland and Northern Ireland. SNIPEF has just over 750 member firms employing over 3500 plumbers and 700 plumbing apprentices.

SNIPEF provides professional and practical assistance to plumbing and heating businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland. SNIPEF aims to have high standards of professional advice and service designed to help member firms improve and develop their business performance.

Unite the Union
Union is the recognised Trade Union for Building Services Engineering in the UK. Unite has a vision of a prosperous society in which employers and employees work together to build successful businesses and safe, healthy working environments.

The SNIJIB is an independent and neutral "not for profit" organization. Membership of the SNIJIB Board comprises nominated members from SNIPEF and Unite the Union whom together represent the interests of everyone in the plumbing industry. The SNIJIB regulates the terms and conditions of employment in the plumbing industry in Scotland and Northern Ireland and operates various schemes such as the plumbing industry's operative grading and apprentice registration schemes.

SQA's functions are set out in the education (Scotland) Act 1996 as amended by the Scottish Qualifications Act 2002. The organisation has two main roles: accreditation and awarding qualifications.

SQA Accreditation (accredits qualifications other than degrees)

  • approves, and quality assures awarding bodies that plan to enter people for these qualifications

SQA Awarding Body

  • devises and develops qualifications
  • validates qualifications (makes sure they are well written and meet the needs of learners and tutors)
  • reviews qualifications to ensure they are up to date
  • arranges for, assists in, and carries out, the assessment of people taking SQA qualifications
  • quality-assures education and training establishments which offer SQA qualifications
  • issues certificates to candidates



Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is Scotland's national skills body. SDS contributes to Scotland's sustainable economic growth by supporting people and businesses to develop and apply their skills. It works with its partners to provide services that deliver the very best outcomes for Scotland's people, businesses and the economy. The employer led Modern Apprenticeship in Plumbing and Heating (SVQ Level 3) programme receive funding support from SDS. This funding is used as a contribution towards the cost of training an apprentice on the plumbing programme leading to the achievement of the MA in Plumbing and subsequent grading as a qualified plumber.




The industry under the leadership of BSE Skills Ltd is embarking on a consultation currently being distributed to the industry. Building Services Engineering Skills Ltd has been contracted by Skills Development Scotland to carry out a periodic review of the National Occupational Standard (NOS) for Plumbing and Heating across the UK. 

BSE Skills will work with UK partners to engage with employers, share the consultation documentation and receive and deal with all feedback. This work will conclude with a revised set of NOS. Thereafter the next step will be to review the qualifications and apprenticeship frameworks that come from the revised NOS.

The 10 NOS are detailed below and can be accessed by clicking the NOS SUMBSE1-9 links below.



NOS Title


Apply health and safety and environmental legislation in the building services engineering sector


Establish and maintain relationships in the building services engineering sector


Coordinate a work site in the building services engineering sector


Perform electrical work on mechanical building services systems


Install and test domestic plumbing and heating systems


Service and maintain domestic plumbing and heating systems


Inspect and pre-commission domestic plumbing and heating systems


Commission domestic plumbing and heating systems


Decommission domestic plumbing and heating systems


Install sheet weathering protection


It is important that all who have an interest in the Building Services NOS input into this review.

The consultation is open till Noon on Thursday 29th November 2018.

 1. Read through the 10 NOS specifications.

 2. Provide feedback by completing the consultation.

The consultation can be found here

The consultation invites individual and organisations to state a little bit about themselves and/or their organisation and then to review the current NOS and advise BSE Skills whether the NOS are fit for purpose or whether any improvements/amendments are needed. You should state any improvements/amendments or questions you think are necessary.

National Occupational Standards (NOS)

Assessment Strategy

MA Framework Scotland

Apprenticeship Framework Northern Ireland



Downloads & links


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