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WIT 2020, the Women Installers Together event is back on 1st July with the women’s perspective giving 2020 vision on the plumbing and heating industry.

This will be the fourth year of the Women Installers Together event, the only national event for women in the heating and plumbing industries and it brings the change to a bigger venue, London Metropolitan University at Holloway.

Last year we filled our venue to capacity and had to turn some women installers away, so we’ve found a bigger, brighter venue in The Great Hall at London Met. It’s our first priority that every woman plumber, heating engineer and trainee can attend as it’s the only event just for them.

Mica May: Stopcocks Women Plumbers, organiser of the event.

The round-table discussions last year gave evidence of something we’ve suspected a long time; that enough placements simply don’t exist and trainees who’re sometimes coming top in college, are leaking out of the system. It’s likely this is affecting men in the industry as well as women. With the average age of plumbers 57/8 and only 5.9% of plumbers and heating engineers under the age of 35 it’s not surprising there isn’t the capacity in businesses to train up new blood, but at the same time, that’s why it’s needed.

It’s time for a completely fresh look at how training and gaining full competence are provided. In a few years we’ll be in a desperate state. If you thought it was difficult to find a decent plumber now, it’s going to get a lot worse!

The round-table discussions will look at more burning issues this year. As a marginal group, women in the industry show what is affecting everyone in it, but more extremely, so industry-wide, it’s helpful to use their experience as a signpost. To enable us to adapt before it’s too late.

Women Installers; plumbers, heating engineers and trainees who’ve attended previous events have all said the Women Installers Together is a great day and well worth travelling to, it’s like nothing else as it’s designed to overcome the isolation women in the industry at about 1% (and only around 500 gas engineers) experience in their everyday lives. It’s the one day a year women can meet other women plumbers, share their experiences, encourage one another and have a great time as well as a great lunch.

One attendee last year said that she’d been turned down for a job with a major employer just the week before. She took on board points from Hattie Hasan MBE*’s talk on Unconscious Bias and with the support of women she met at the event went along to another interview the following week with a different approach and got the job!

The industry is desperate for great new entrants but without realising it, is making it harder for women to enter, even though they’re highly committed and have excellent skill levels. On top of the difficulty of training up a new employee in the small companies that make up most of the industry, this is reducing the pool of new talent at exactly the time we need to expand it and welcome in new people with the technical ability and enthusiasm for the work.

Many of the companies who sponsor Women Installers Together, this year on July 1st, now come back year after year, recognising the importance of broadening the pool of engineers and encouraging new blood into it.

It’s not a matter of giving women ‘special treatment’ which is a criticism often hurled at those working to increase their numbers. Changes to the industry that encourage women to join it, will encourage new entrants from both sexes. It’s absolutely vital that we attract more people with the right skills and ethic to the industry now, before it’s too late and the older talent with skills and knowledge to pass on are lost to it.

We suspect the frighteningly high incidence of depression and suicide in the industry, the completely unbalanced gender representation in it and its inability to attract new blood are all connected.

The industry needs to encourage people to join it, by using women as a test group for exactly how to do that, we could head off the looming crisis.

Join us at Women Installers Together 2020 this July 1st to keep at the head of the curve. Tickets for installers are free, managers, PR, HR and other professionals are asked to pay a small fee to help us continue to provide this resource.

Get tickets to Women Installers Together 2020 here

Sponsors of the event already returning for another glorious year include

We’re delighted at how engaged and keen to talk to us the delegates of WIT are.

Graham Peters: Monument Tools

Polypipe Trade, Monument Tools, Vaillant, Graham the Plumbers Merchant, Fernox, Base PPE, Impey/Coram. Contact Stopcocks to join them

*Hattie Hasan MBE is founder of the event and speaking again this year, also speaking is Bonita Norris; youngest person to summit Everest and go to the North Pole.