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EUROPE:  The piloting and testing of the REAL Alternatives e-learning course has been a critical stage in the development of this new multilingual blended learning approach designed to improve knowledge of alternatives to high GWP refrigerants. 63 individuals from 12 European countries took part in a pilot exercise in October representing a wide range of stakeholders – from technicians to manufacturers and trainers. The general conclusion was that the e-learning will provide a much needed solution to skills shortages – particularly in view of the introduction of the new F Gas Regulation in 2015 and future restrictions on HFCs.

Those who took part in the piloting provided consistent answers and comments: with positive reactions to the approach and structure of the course, the range of refrigerants covered (Carbon Dioxide, Hydrocarbon, Ammonia, R32 and HFOs), and the user-friendliness of the e-learning design. On average they scored the materials “good to excellent” in a range of categories which included depth of knowledge, learning outcomes, coverage of principles, support information on regulations, ease of navigation, and assessment.

Several of the participants highlighted the valuable impact that the course will have on technicians and vocational training providers within the European Union and stated that the course will provide an essential reference for operators of refrigeration equipment.

A selection of comments from the trial are shown below:

“a useful tool to improve awareness of technicians on alternative refrigerants and also enhance their theoretical knowledge in preparation of a face-to-face and practical training “

“The e-learning program is really a very good base for the future and for a further development of the course.”

“A good point is that the new generation synthetics are covered, not only natural refrigerants. This makes the platform modern and independent, yet valuable to technicians - it shows that naturals are not the only way.”

“the E-learning platform will be a very important part of teaching, helpful and "natural" for young people.“

The project team, which includes educational institutions and bodies from the UK, Italy, Germany, Poland and Belgium and now incorporating the consolidated detailed feedback from the pilot into a final version of the programme which will be launched in Spring 2015.

The complete REAL Alternatives programme will take a blended learning approach and includes eight e- learning modules, supplemented with learning booklets, interactive tools and spreadsheets. An e-library of user-generated industry information about alternative refrigerants is already available at and includes over 100 reference documents that will support the e-learning. 

Those interested in finding out more can register now at the website for updates


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UK:  Plymouth-based ChanniCool Training Services who specialise in plumbing, heating and ventilation, electrical, refrigeration, air conditioning and renewable energy training is celebrating five years in business and continuing to grow.

Set up in 2009 by qualified trainer Andrew Channon, ChanniCool is working towards a scheme for the unemployed who wish to start a career in engineering and members of the armed forces wishing to retrain.

ChanniCool already run courses lasting from one-day specialist courses, to two-year fully funded apprenticeships.

"Unlike a traditional FE college, our intake is not restricted to a September intake," Mr Channon said. "Top-up courses are also available at dates throughout the year for workers who need to adjust to new legislation.

"Training is available for experienced tradesmen who need to upgrade qualifications, and apprentices and individuals who wish to retrain and learn a trade.

"Courses offered are delivered in the classroom as well as a workshop, with classes of 10 and under. We only have small classes to ensure students receive the training they require. This allows us to have a friendly, flexible approach to teaching."

Channicool Training Services are a City and Guilds, BPEC, EAL and Construction Skills (CITB) approved training centre, offering a vast selection of short and long-term courses including brazing courses, plumbing, refrigeration and air conditioning diplomas, technical certificates and NVQs, water regulations, vented and unvented course, IEE 17th edition wiring regulations, short electrical and heat pump installation courses, DIY plumbing courses plus many others.

To find about more about the courses Chanicool Training Services provide click here


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UK:  The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB), is calling for further input to drive forward changes in apprenticeship standards and employers are being invited to get involved in owning and leading the design of future Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump (RACHP) apprenticeships, that are to replace the existing standards by 2017.

The Institute of Refrigeration (IOR), as the professional body representing the RACHP sector has engaged with employers to start the process of developing these stardards, and is seeking views and support from everyone involved in employing or training new Engineering Technicians.

The IOR is also calling for employers to sign up to an RACHP Engineering Technician Trailblazer Stakeholder Group. The Stakeholder Group will allow you to have direct input to the development of the new standards by sharing your views, commenting on drafts, attending meetings and being part of this new initiative.

The IOR has revealed below the twelve RACHP employers involved in the design and development of these new standards, which is being chaired by John Austin-Davies of EPTA.

  • Enigma Environmental Services Ltd
  • GEA Refrigeration
  • Integral UK Ltd
  • Mitsubishi Electric, Living Environmental Systems
  • Star Refrigeration
  • Space Engineering Services
  • Carter Synergy
  • Adcock Refrigeration and Air conditioning
  • George Barker & Co (Leeds), Epta Group incorporating Cold Service
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Daikin Airconditioning UK Ltd
  • MacWhirter Air Conditioning

The diagram below shows some of the proposed principles under the new Government Trailblazer apprenticeship programmes and a more detailed discussion Paper is available at

12 RACHP Employers will design. develop and sign off new standardsRACHP Engineering Technician Apprenticeship TrailblazerStrong industry support from ACRIB, trade associations and professional institutesRACHP trailblazer scheme principlesRACHP trailblazer scheme principlesRACHP trailblazer scheme principles

A summary of key requirements and attributes as well as principles of assessment will be submitted to Government in early 2015 by the RACHP Trailblazer Employers group so it is important that as many views from a wide variety of businesses in the sector are included.  

Comments are being invited up to 12th December 2014 and you can also use the feedback form to join an employer stakeholder group if you want to have continued involvement in this work.

To sign up and join the Trailblazer Stakeholder Group Click here


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EUROPE:  The European association of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump contractors’ AREA, has updated its Guidance on the minimum requirements for contractors’ training & certification, when working with low-GWP Refrigerants.

The guidance paper sets out the basic competence requirements for RACHP contractors and training recommendations for dealing with low-GWP refrigerants.

Whilst AREA acknowledge HFC refrigerant handling certification is the basis for engineers to handle refrigerants, training should be taken in respective of working with low-GWP refrigerants, ammonia (R717), carbon dioxide (R744) and hydrocarbons (HCs).

The guide now includes an Annex II, listing training facilities in the UK and Europe, and provides web addresses and information on the type of training the organisations listed provide, by type of low-GWP refrigerant.

As a reminder, the new F-Gas Regulation requires that Member States ensure the availability of training for natural persons who wish to update their knowledge, notably on technologies to replace or reduce the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

The revised guidance document is available to download here

About AREA

AREA ( is the European organisation of refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) contractors. Established in 1988, AREA voices the interests of 21 national members from 19 European countries, representing more than 9,000 companies across Europe (mainly small to medium sized enterprises), employing some 125,000 people and with an annual turnover approaching €20 billion.

AREA members are the designers of RACHP systems, which they also install, service and maintain. For this purpose, RACHP contractors use every available solution with complete neutrality towards equipment and refrigerants, with the sole aim of ensuring the highest level of reliability, energy efficiency and cost- effectiveness. 


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UK:  Toshiba distributor Cool Designs Ltd, which pioneered online video-based training, is now launching a comprehensive programme of classroom-based courses for air conditioning engineers, consultants and end users.

It believes a combination of practical, hands-on courses supported by a library of professional online videos is the most powerful way of training the next generation and ensuring existing installers can get up-to-speed with the latest technology.

The company is rolling-out a full programme of training at three locations across the UK, in Glasgow, Sunderland and Warrington. It will also run courses at Toshiba’s air conditioning training centre in Leatherhead, Surrey.

Practical and theoretical courses will cover everything from designing and commissioning heat recovery VRF systems, to fault diagnosis, F-Gas compliance and system optimisation.

It will also include training in the installation and use of Toshiba’s total refrigerant management and protection system, designed to provide complete reassurance for end users. The system has recently been adopted by a global hotel chain, and is being being rolled out across its estate.

Darrel Birkett, managing director of CDL, says: “Rapid developments in air conditioning technology, particularly in the area of control and monitoring, require constant refreshers to ensure installers and designers remain up-to-speed.

“It is not enough to go on an ‘air conditioning course’ once and expect to be equipped for life, as may have happened in the past. We believe training needs to be life-long, so that people understand how to apply the advanced features of today’s systems as they are introduced, in order to operate them safely and efficiently.”

He added: “The combination of hands-on classroom training using working equipment, backed by permanently accessible online instructional videos, provides a compelling package. Videos can be accessed by engineers at any time, at the point of need via a smart-phone; we know from feedback that installers use them as a real-time reference for problem-solving, rather than wading through conventional manuals.”

CDL offers all training courses without charge to installers signing up for Toshiba’s Additions scheme. For larger groups, the company will organise courses at customer’s premises, to minimise travelling time and cost.

For more details, or to request a full list of courses, please contact CDL on Tel 0191 549 6964, or email


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UK:  Integral UK Ltd has entered into a partnership with Energy Training Hub (ETH) to offer a comprehensive programme of courses in refrigeration, energy and electrical skills.

The initiative, which launches on 1 October, is designed to equip field engineers, consultants, designers and end users with the knowledge and skills needed to apply the new generation of alternative cooling systems, based on high efficiency, natural and low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants.

Courses will be held at Integral’s award-winning training centre at Minworth, near Birmingham, which has working examples of systems running on state-of-the-art HFO refrigerants, carbon dioxide and propane.

Integral provides refrigeration installation and service for some of the UK’s biggest food retailers. It believes there remains a significant gap between end users’ desire to adopt greener systems and the skills available in the market to deliver the latest high efficiency, low GWP systems.

To help meet this need, the company has entered into a partnership with specialist training organisation ETH, part of Dudley College, to make available its expertise on a national scale.

ETH already operates from a number of centres across the UK, offering specialist courses for the oil and gas industry, plus training in renewables and health and safety. The partnership with Integral is part of an ongoing plan to expand the range of courses offered and its geographical reach.

Courses to be offered at Minworth include theoretical and practical training in F-Gas legislation and compliance, the application of alternative refrigerants (HC, HFO and CO2), electrical skills and control circuitry. It will also offer training and assessment in refrigerant safe handling under the City & Guilds 2079 scheme.

Heading up the centre is training manager David Sargent, supported by specialist refrigeration trainer John Bradley. Electrical equipment is being installed at the centre to cater for the new electrical courses being offered alongside refrigeration.

Patrick Mullins (inset right), business development director at Integral’s refrigeration operation, said: “We are delighted to be launching this partnership with ETH. There is huge interest among end users in adopting greener, more efficient technology. However, progress is being hampered by the shortage of practical knowledge and skills available in the market.

“Combining our technical knowledge and facilities with the outstanding training skills and resources of ETH provides the industry with an opportunity to rapidly upskill engineers and designers, and rise to the challenge presented by many major customers.”

Christopher Dalton (inset left), managing director of ETH, said: “We are extremely pleased to be working with Integral on this exciting new venture. The Minworth training facility is world-class, and unique in having examples of all three of the main alternative cooling technologies, operating side-by-side.

“The new initiative enables everyone with an interest in low carbon cooling to gain experience of the new technology. We are also conscious of the vital part energy will play in the future. A key aspect of the offering will be integrated training across refrigeration and energy, to ensure that systems are not only low GWP, but maximised for efficiency. With our experience of renewables, electrical control and energy, we believe we are in a unique position to deliver this.”

For more details or a list of courses offered, contact: Michelle Edwards or Rachel Allen on 0800 028 7420.

To find out about the other courses Energy Training Hub offer, visit their Fridgehub profile here 


Fridgehub, providing information and resources to Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Suppliers, Contractors and Retail Business Operators

UK:  Mitsubishi Electric and its partners have announced the launch of a new, national apprenticeship scheme to train the air conditioning engineers of the future.

At two launches in Hatfield and Manchester, the company came together with 13 of its partners to welcome the 21 new apprentices who have joined the industry through the scheme.

“We have been pleased with the results, particularly the support from our partners, as this is only the first year of our new National Apprenticeship Programme”, explained Steve Hayward Technical Services and After Sales Manager.

“Along with our partners, we recognise the importance of developing the engineers of the future to ensure that we can continue to meet market demand as an industry”, he added.

The companies will now work closely with the co-ordinator, Building Engineering Services Training Ltd (BEST), to monitor and support the development of the new recruits.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Support from leading companies like Mitsubishi Electric and its partners means that it is fast becoming the norm for young people to choose either university or an apprenticeship as a route to a great career.

“I would encourage other companies to follow Mitsubishi Electric’s lead in recognising the value apprentices add to their businesses in helping them to build a skilled workforce. There has never been a better time to become an apprentice – to get in, and go far”.

Mitsubishi Electric's partner companies:

  • 21 Degrees
  • Air Master Air Conditioning
  • Airway Solutions
  • Bry-Kol Developments
  • Crowther and Shaw
  • DOC Building Facilities
  • Neville Tucker Heating
  • NDS
  • Oxford Refrigeration
  • Servio
  • Orbital Climate Solutions
  • Temperature Control
  • Watford Refrigeration

“We are delighted to work on a national scale with such a significant industry player as Mitsubishi Electric,” commented Steve Leighton, Chief Operations Officer for BEST.  “The response from Mitsubishi Electric’s partners has been superb and these companies recognise the value that a skilled, qualified workforce adds to their business.”

Related Articles:


Considering a career in RACHP engineering?  

See the vast amount of employment and academic opportunities it has to offer here - A 'Degree of Achievement"

You can find courses in Refrigeration & Air Conditioning engineering here 


Fridgehub, providing information and resources to Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Suppliers, Contractors and Retail Business Operators

UK:  The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB) have today issued an update on training requirements under the F-Gas Regulations as there is said to have been some confusion amongst training providers on the issue of re-certification and requirements from 2015.

DEFRA and the Environmental Agency have confirmed existing individual F-Gas Certificates issued in accordance with the 2006 F Gas Regulations remain valid under the new 2014 Regulation EC517/2014 (article 10 paragraph 7).

This will be a great relief for the 30,000 or so UK operatives who are already F-Gas Qualified in the UK.

However those certificates only remain valid “in accordance with the conditions under which they were originally issued” which means that if your certificate has an expiry date, you will need to undertake a reassessment. Reassessments are now available for those holding expired CITB Certificates.  For those holding City & Guilds 2079 (or relevant units within the 7189 or 6187 qualifications) no reassessment is necessary.

The UK, like all member states, has an obligation to ensure that any F-Gas certificates issued in future cover the changes that have been introduced by the 2014 Regulations – such as the different leak checking requirements and knowledge of the phase down timetable and new specific bans - some of which come in from January 2015.  Both the CITB and City & Guilds F Gas Certificates will be updated in line with the changes to the knowledge element of the assessment in the required timescale so that anyone new to the industry taking their F Gas Certificate is up to date.

There are still a number of uncertainties in the 2014 F-Gas Regulation on which UK Government and industry is awaiting clarification on. For example the requirement for already F gas Certified individuals to have access to information regarding technologies to replace HFCS, and existing regulatory requirements for alternative refrigerants.  There is also a clause in the new Regulations that says Member States have to make available training for anyone who wants to update their knowledge.  The Commission is planning to carry out a review of existing legislation covering training for the safe-handling of alternative refrigerants and, if appropriate, submit a legislative proposal. The results of this review are expected in 2017. 

The 2014 European F-Gas Regulation 517/2014 is directly applicable in UK law.  However UK legislation is needed to cover the compliance and enforcement measures.  A draft of that legislation, which will repeal the previous UK F Gas Regulation, is due for consultation this autumn.  The full text of the 2014 European F Gas Regulation is available at

Further guidance on how the new F Gas changes will impact end users and contractors is being prepared by ACRIB and by European Contractors’ association AREA and will be available shortly. Check for updates and come to the ACRIB F Gas update conference on 11th November in London. 


ACRIB is an umbrella organisation for the UK RACHP industry comprising trade associations and professional institutes: AMDEA, ARC, B&ES, BFFF, CIBSE, CRT, FETA, FSDF, IOR.  It provides the ACRIB Skillcard scheme for the recognition of individual operative qualifications in working with the full range of refrigerants. For more information see

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UK:  With thousands of young people last week receiving their A Level results, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is calling for the introduction of a UCAS-style system for vocational education.

The IET believes that this would bring much needed clarity to the vocational education application process, as well as make it clear to students that vocational and academic education are equally valid choices.

A system that would allow students to apply for both vocational and higher education qualifications side by side would also enable students to apply for multiple vocational centres for further education and apprenticeships.

There is currently a misconception surrounding vocational education and many high achievers are guided towards academia instead. By bringing the same clarity to the ladder of progression within vocational education as already exists for higher education, more school leavers will be inspired to pursue apprenticeships after A levels.

Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive, said: “The UK has a shortage of engineers and there is an urgent need to get more young people to study and take up a career in engineering.

“Young people can achieve a successful career in engineering by going to University, or by taking up an apprenticeship. The problem we face at the moment is that the two routes aren’t always seen as equally valid.”  

“Many school-leavers of all abilities may be better off considering vocational routes. Apprenticeships represent good all-round training for those wanting to avoid the costs associated with higher education, and it’s not unusual for apprentices to progress up the career ladder as quickly, or even more quickly, than new graduates. Apprentices also receive hands-on industry experience and earn employability skills, such as team working, which our recent IET 2014 Skills Survey found that many employers believe university graduates still lack.

“Having an admission service that includes vocational education would send a strong message to A level students that apprenticeships are not only a good option, but are also easily accessible. By providing a system directly comparable to, or incorporated into, the university higher education application process, students would be able to see that there is an equal and viable progression route through vocational education.”

Related Articles:

Skills Crisis expected to hit the UK within 3-years


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UK:  The CITB have announced the launch of a reassessment option for operatives that have an expiring or expired CITB (J11– J14) refrigerant handling certificate.

Following the introduction of (EU) Regulation 517/2014 on 16 April 2014 which supersedes (EC) Regulation 842/2006 (commonly known as the F-Gas Regulation) CITB has taken the opportunity to update its assessment criteria to reflect the changes that will take effect from 1 January 2015.

CITB now provides an option for operatives undertaking an F gas qualification for the first time (Initial assessment) and for those that are renewing an expiring or expired CITB certificate (Reassessment).

Reassessment is also open to those operatives holding a valid City & Guilds 2079 certificate who may want to take advantage of additional training and assessment to bring them up to date with current legislation.

The reassessment option has been designed and streamlined to focus specifically on the legislation and practice changes since they were last trained and/or assessed and reassess key skills in accordance with the minimum requirements for certification programmes laid down in Regulation (EC) No 303/2008; it will typically be undertaken in two days.

The Introduction of ‘MOT’ style Certificates

To provide businesses and operatives with the flexibility to plan ahead and also maintain certification validity CITB have introduced an initiative that allows an operative to undertake an expiring (J11– J14) assessment up to six months prior to the expiry of the existing certificate.

To benefit from this new arrangement operatives will need to present to the approved CITB refrigeration centre their original (not a photocopy) expiring certificate. Operatives may undertake reassessment up to six months in advance of an existing certificate expiring and upon successful completion will receive an MOT style certificate.

Example: A current certificate expires on 1/7/2015; reassessment may be undertaken at any time between 2/1/2015 and 1/7/2015. If the reassessment was undertaken on the 2/1/2015 the new certificate would be valid until 1/7/2020 (Five years and six months).

Legal Requirement

It is now a criminal offence to carry out activities that install, maintain or service stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and/or heat pump equipment containing or designed to contain F-Gas refrigerants without a Company Certificate. Operatives who carry out work activities that do not hold a current recognised qualification will compromise their company certificate. Companies who use sub-contractors must ensure that valid engineer qualifications are held before using either them as subcontract companies or subcontract personnel.

For further information on CITB (J11-14) Refrigerant Handling Schemes and a list of approved Training and Assessment centres please click here or you can view and download the full list of CITB approved centres here

For further information on CITB Refrigeration Schemes and a list of approved Training and Assessment centres please click here.

Related Articles:

Summary of F-Gas Regulations – Key Dates [Fridgehub Infographic]

RACHP Training & Qualifications (UK) A guide to selecting the right course for you


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