One of the most important aspects associated with plumbing are the effectiveness of working partnerships between all the elements of the profession, colleges and other training providers. The value of such relationships and partnerships cannot be overestimated. Having been a principal this was one aspect I encouraged but was aware that such relationships could become stained because of financial and political problems within the college. There was always the danger that colleges and staff could become preoccupied and inward looking with internal issues and as a result neglect external links. This again was often associated with financial cuts or problems with employers, plumbing companies and associated industries. Often some college senior staff and heads of department did not encourage their staff to develop strong and continuous links with external employers and practitioners being often reluctant to cover costs associated with attending conferences and seminars. This was a sad state of affairs as college staff needs to be involved with the employers and plumbers. A key element is that the college staffs needs to be encouraged and supported by the senior staff. The principal has a major role to play in requiring their staff particularly senior staff to encourage, develop and sustain effective partnerships and relationships with those representing the college disciplines and subjects.
All this makes sense after all its common sense but problems do arise as partnerships and relationships often become weakened for a number of reasons. The professional institutes have a major role to play here encouraging strong and continuous relationships through its own activities and publications. One important aspect is conferences and seminars held locally, regionally and nationally. Also the more progressive colleges and training providers particularly in the NW staged such events for other colleges and training providers. A particularly important activity is the exchange of staff between colleges and the plumbing industries inviting practitioners into colleges so they can see how the college operates and equally important is for college staff to visit plumbing establishments and make contact with practising plumbers. This latter aspect is very important so college staff really understand the latest developments within the profession. Such issues like modular/off-site construction and the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the use of robots. As principal I used to greatly value these activities in that they most certainly strengthened contacts between plumbers, lecturers and organisations. It is sad that some senior managers are reluctant to support their staff concerned with the costs and covering the necessary release time issues.
It is a two way affair both parties benefitting from strong and meaningful partnerships but they need commitment and the necessary investment of time and money.