New sustainable technology course for plumbers and heating engineers

10th November 2023

A new course to upskill South Yorkshire plumbers and heating engineers in sustainable technology has launched at The Sheffield College.

The free air source heat pump training classes are aimed at plumbing and heating engineering businesses in the region with fewer than 250 employees.

Based at Olive Grove Campus, the course is upskilling those already working in the industry. College students and apprentices will be offered the training in future.

Olive Grove Campus, on Olive Grove Road, specialises in engineering, motor vehicle, gas fitting and plumbing courses and qualifications.

The new course, which started in October 2023, reflects wider commitments by the college to equip learners with the latest skills that help to protect the environment.

Richard Burton, Assistant Principal, Technical Skills and Education, The Sheffield College, said: “We are committed to equipping employers with the latest sustainability skills needed by their industries. 

“We are pleased to launch this new course for South Yorkshire’s plumbing and heating engineering SMEs and would like to thank Sheffield City Council and Force Contracts Ltd for their support.” 

Sheffield City Council is funding the technical equipment, which comprises four training rigs worth a total of £20,000.

Councillor Martin Smith, Committee Chair for Economic Development and Skills Policy Committee, Sheffield City Council, said: “Green skills training is at the heart of Sheffield’s Net Zero ambitions.
“This partnership between two key organisations in the city will give local plumbing the opportunity to make sure that they have the skills for the future. We expect that there will be a lot of interest in the courses, and we know that long-term training like this leads to more high-quality jobs and career development for local people.

“We’re pleased to be leading the way in the drive for clean and sustainable economic growth, investing in specialist green skills and enabling current and future tradespeople to leverage low-carbon technologies and techniques. It’s an essential response to the climate emergency and a clear statement that Sheffield remains at the forefront of innovation.”
One of the college's employer partners, Force Contracts Ltd, which already supports students completing a Level 3 qualification in plumbing, is installing the rigs. 

The company is involved in the college’s award-winning employer skills academies programme which enables employers to mould future talent to local skills needs.

Employers co-design the curriculum to simulate real-life work and provide masterclasses, projects, workplace or industry relevant visits and placements to enhance students’ employability skills.

Victoria Roberts, Commercial Manager, Force Contracts Ltd, based in Sheffield, said: "As a family run business of 40-plus years, we are committed to supporting the next generation of plumbers and heating engineers. 
“In a fast-changing world, we recognise the importance of keeping up-to-date with the latest technology and skills. This is why we were pleased to carry out the heat pump installations free of charge to assist with this new training course.”

Air source heat pumps use electricity rather than fossil fuels. They are being introduced to replace traditional gas boilers and decarbonise the nation’s heating.

A pump takes heat at a low temperature from the air or ground and increases it to a higher temperature. The heat is transferred into homes for heating and hot water.

The training is free thanks to funding that the college has secured from Midlands Net Zero Hub. To register your interest in the course, please email

The course is part of wider college plans for a green curriculum and the transformation of Olive Grove Campus into an Advanced Technology Centre.

Automotive and engineering workshops will be expanded with a two-storey extension following the approval of £2.6 million from the Department for Education for 2023/24 to meet the latest employer skills. Work is due to start in January 2024.

The Sheffield College offers a range of vocational and technical qualifications, including T Levels and higher level courses, at Olive Grove Campus. 

Find out more about our employer partnerships and our next college-wide open day on 15th November 2023. Visit

Pictured (from left to right): The Sheffield College’s Richard Burton, Assistant Principal, Technical Skills and Education, and Natalie Dodds, Academy Director for Building Technologies, with Victoria Roberts, Commercial Manager, Force Contracts Ltd.


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