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Led by chair Robert Burgon, a contingency of overseas council members from China to Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, descended on the Menzies Hotel in the heart of Sydney.
It was 25 years since the first World Plumbing Conference in Sydney. “It was good to hold a meeting in Sydney some 25 years after the first World Plumbing Conference – effectively the stimulus for the creation of the World Plumbing Council,” Robert says.
“Australia and New Zealand have several members of the WPC and it is not always possible for representatives of these organisations to participate in our meetings. One goal of coming to Australia was to encourage these members to come to the meeting. I am delighted to say that this was achieved and we had strong participation from member organisations in these countries as well as representation from another 10 countries worldwide.”
Other than speaking about World Plumbing Day and the events hosted by participating nations, the three day event covered the importance of education and training, sustainability issues and plumbing for the future.
In attendance were host Paul Naylor, RK Somany founder of Hindustan Sanitaryware & Industries Ltd, the MPMSAA’s Ken Gardner, Plumbing Industry Commission’s Shayne Le Combre, MPGD’s Fiona Gavriel accompanied by two more of New Zealand’s finest John Simmiss and Ian Elliott of the PGDR ITO NZ, WPC director Blane Judd, WPC deputy chairman Russ Chaney, the Indian Plumbing Association’s Sudhakaran Nair (also a WPC director), Rich Prospal representing the ASSE, WPC director Hua Mingjiu, WPC Secretariat Stephen Movley and Murray Thomas from the MP&GA WA.
Once World Plumbing Day discussions were out of the way, it was down to the business of the WPC Strategic Plan.
The first point of this agenda was to discuss an update on research being conducted by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. There are several projects on the go including the development of a device to identify depleted trap seals. This would be a commercial tool with great benefit to hospitals. Two other projects were discussed:
1. Predictions of rainwater patterns and impact on drainage.
2. Climate change effects on traditional and siphonic systems, should predictions of warmer but wetter winters and dryer summers come to pass.
Though results are two to three years away, it is important to follow the research as it progresses and keep the plumbing community posted on its findings. In fact, the WPC after being criticised for not posting enough technical information on its website will make a concerted effort to post research papers written by the CIB W62 International Symposium. This will extend to other researchers who will be invited to prepare short technical pieces on their areas of expertise.
Some interesting discussions about training, research and education followed, including the problem of fast track education and its impact on the industry. In the UK in particular, it seems people are paying a lot of money for fast tracked plumbing qualifications that are unrecognised by the industry. Any plumber would know, that a four year learning course is necessary to be fully qualified, however fast track qualifications driven by commercial interests and not-stopped by government are not only providing qualification problems, but are discrediting the industry as people are graduating with a lack of knowledge and skills required to carry out some fundamental plumbing work.
The WPC hopes to see consistent training worldwide and establish guidelines in training and resources for countries where resources are lacking. The WPC also hopes to establish a training regimen for the trainers and educators, so that they too are kept up to date with the latest techniques, skills and technologies.
The question here is who can fund the upskilling of trainers? The other question raised was the role of the plumber.Continued...