Welcome to the leisure vehicle service sector. If you are reading this, it is probably because you are considering changing or starting a new career or are expending your existing business into caravan and motorhome servicing.
The NCC Training Academy is part of the National Caravan Council, the UK trade body that looks after the entire supply chain within the leisure vehicle and holiday park industries. The Academy provides training and qualifications that have been specifically designed to meet the needs of the leisure vehicle service sector.
All our programmes for caravan service technicians meet the requirements for the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS).
The article below will explain the three main competence skills that are considered a minimum standard for caravan service by the industry. The article is a lengthy read, but it will help you identify where to begin, which training course to do first and how to comply with both industry best practice and UK law. Once you know where you want to begin, we can help you further.
Quite simply, gas can be lethal if not handled correctly. Gas burning equipment is not just a fire hazard; escaping gas is harmful and incorrect burning appliances can lead to CO poisoning. Therefore, anyone working with gas must legally be able to demonstrate competence in handling gas, both for their own safety and the safety of their customers.
Unlike in your home or in an office, caravan service technicians do not have to be Gas Safe registered. They do not need the same high-level of training as domestic boiler engineers do, for example. Why? On a simple habitation service, the gas infrastructure is less to work with; additionally, the caravan industry is able to take advantage of the fact that privately owned touring caravans and motorhomes are not classed as a domestic dwelling or business premises.
This is a handy benefit to our industry as the level of competence required to work with gas is less expensive and the duration of the training is considerably shorter. This means less time away from work on courses for you or your employees.
So what do you need? You need to have what is referred to as STGW (Standards of Training in Gas Work) gas competence. It is possible to approach your local gas centre for this training; however, the advantage of taking an NCC Academy course is that we ensure your training is strictly relevant to the work you will be doing, no unnecessary modules included or essential ones missed out. It is also guaranteed to meet the requirements for the AWS scheme. You can then be assured that you know what you are doing and meet your legal obligation to demonstrate competence to work with gas on touring caravans and motorhomes.
Please note, if the unit is hired out by either you or your customer, this becomes a business transaction and falls inside the scope of the Gas Safe registration scheme.
Just like gas, electricity can be lethal. For the same reasons, this competency is also a minimum requirement by the AWS scheme. There is also a legal requirement that electrical work, just like gas, have forms that need to be completed and ‘signed off’ which can only be done by a competent technician. Currently, the NCC Academy electrical programmes are the only ones recognised by the AWS scheme as meeting their industry specific requirements.
There are two electrical programmes, both of which are two-days in length. If you are a mobile technician or work on your own, you will need to do both. However, for larger workshops, only those employees who will be ‘signing off’ documentation need to have both qualifications.
The first course is the NCC Test & Inspection programme. You will need to complete and pass this course before being able to take the second course called NCC Systems & Circuits. You can, however, book on both at the same time, although you will need to leave at least one month between them.
With the exception of the NCC Caravan Service Award, all of the above qualifications are gained through face-to-face tuition. The Caravan Service Award (CSA) is only an examined assessment; there is no formal tuition.
The first thing you should to do before registering on the CSA programme, or indeed venturing into servicing, is to read the syllabus for this programme. The syllabus lists the tasks that are regarded as a minimum service. You will be the only person to judge what you (or your staff) know. Read through this syllabus and ask yourself, ‘do I know this?’. If you find the answer is, ‘no’, then you may wish to consider looking at gaining some experience.
When you are ready to register, the assessments take the form of two examinations. An online theory exam which can be taken on a computer or tablet at home or work, and an observed practical assessment at one of our assessment centres. The assessments are a little bit like a driving test – the theory explores your understanding of a task, whilst the practical assesses your ability to perform the task. However, like the driving test, you will need plenty of experience first.
Traditionally, all service skills have been handed down from technician to technician; the industry is still heavily geared towards this in-house training by workshops. This is slowly changing with the introduction of a National Apprenticeship which includes all the core competences as well as foundation skills. Unfortunately, there are currently no formally recognised short courses available. For many picking up a second career, you will need experience from similar mechanical or ‘school of life’ experiences.