We chat to Gary Macnamara of the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) to get his thoughts on the new solar geyser installer qualification
As of April 2014, the new age (A21 apprenticeship) qualification and assessment (trade test) for solar hot water installers came into effect. This means all plumbers who are not qualified and want to carry out solar installations will need to be qualified through the new learning path, in addition to being registered through the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB).
As of 2014, all plumbers doing solar hot water installations must issue a COC.
WHAT IS THE NEW AGE (A21) APPRENTICESHIP QUALIFICATION?
Plumber Occupation Certificate for Qualified Plumber (NQF4) is a three year qualification consisting of the following:
* NOTE: Entry requirements = Grade 11 (above 50% for maths & science) or NQF3 equivalent to N2 knowledge areas of engineering Maths, Science and building drawings.
Knowledge and practical modules + 1 year workplace + Trade Test = 3 years
- Knowledge modules
- Practical Skill modules
- Work Experience modules
As of 2014, all plumbers doing solar hot water installations, under the new Section 9 of SANS 10106: 2014, must issue of a certificate of compliance (COC). It is a requirement, the same as an electrician must issue an electrical COC for the electrical installation.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?
Before an individual can issue a COC for solar hot water installations, they need to be a qualified plumber and been trained and assessed in the occupation of a solar hot water installer. There are various routes to gain this occupation qualification, depending on your current status.
- Individuals who are qualified plumbers but not registered with PIRB as a solar hot water installer will need to complete the solar qualification. Once completed, a trade test for solar hot water installers will need to be assessed. The plumber will then need to register with PIRB in order to be able to issue a certificate of compliance on completion of a task.
- Individuals who are not qualified plumbers and not registered with PIRB as solar hot water installer will first need to complete an Occupation: Plumber Solar hot water installer certificate. Once completed, a trade test for solar geyser installations will need to be assessed. The plumber will then need to register with PIRB in order to be able to issue a certificate of compliance on completion of a task.
- Individuals who are new to the plumbing industry will need to obtain an occupation plumber qualification first. Then an occupation qualification for solar heating systems will be needed, followed by an assessment (trade test) and certification for solar geyser installations. Qualified individuals will then need to register with PIRB in order to be able to issue a COC on completion of a task.
- Training providers wishing to train will need to be accredited through the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) as a skills development provider for solar hot water installer qualification. IOPSA has been appointed as the Quality Assessment Partner for this qualification and assessment. Contact IOPSA to get approval and be recommended for accreditation.
The purpose of such a specific qualification will be to prepare learners and plumbers to install solar hot water systems successfully and in accordance to the National Building Regulations (NBR). Obtaining the occupation solar certificate qualification will also improve the employability of individuals and level of salary.
This qualification resides as one of several new plumbing qualifications with varies learning paths to gain access to the solar hot water installer occupation.
The main benefits of this qualification for learners are that learners have an opportunity to be recognised as a qualified solar water heater installer with well-structured, relevant and current competencies and will be able to have access to entrepreneurial opportunities within the plumbing sector.
As a qualified solar hot water installer, you will be able to:
- Prepare and plan for the installation of solar hot water systems.
- Install solar hot water systems in a safe and compliance environment.
- Diagnose and repair faults and maintaining solar hot water heating systems.
Under the new legislations, the practice of performing solar installations without being properly qualified, not using compliant materials and not issuing PIRB COCs is now illegal in terms of the National Building Regulations, Water Services Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Water and Sanitation By-laws, and the Consumer Protection Act. A solar water heating system is not SANS 10106 compliant if a certificate has not been issued. COCs will also be required for insurance cover of the installation.