Qualifications and Apprenticeships


Whether you are looking for specific qualifications for your staff or to take an apprentice to train up, the IOR can help guide you to the right place to find the information you need to improve skills.  

Download our route map for careers and qualifications to understand what is available


RACHP Qualifications and Trainingfemale engineer 2

The City & Guilds 6090-02 (Level 2) qualifications provide a firm foundation for anyone working in the sector, to get the knowledge and skills to do their job. Suitable for example for air conditioning installers, those undertaking regular maintenance activities and anyone retraining with experience in a different sector. The qualification offers sound theory, a practical and knowledge exam at the end and results in a City & Guilds Level 2 craft certificate. 


F Gas Certification 

For those already working in the sector it is mandatory to hold a current F Gas Certificate for handling of refrigerants. This does not make the individual fully qualified as it only covers the basics required under environmental legislation to work legally on fluorinated refrigerants.  It does not provide evidence of their knowledge and understanding of refrigeration processes and technologies. 


The RACHP Engineering Technician ApprenticeshipIMG 2044

Want to take your employees to the next level and make sure they are prepared for the future? The Apprenticeship sets the standard for working in our sector and is designed to give trainees the skills, knowledge and behaviours necessary to allow them to work at the level required by employers and to progress their career in any application or range of work. It is designed to be delivered over three years, with 20% of the time spent in training and 80% in work.

Apprentices coming out with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education Certification are finding that the course was challenging but that their ability to contribute to the workplace has been significantly enhanced. Employers who commit to supporting their Apprentice fully are getting a highly skilled competent engineering technician.

The Apprenticeship is based on a Standard for skills, knowledge and behaviours and an Assessment Plan for the final end point exams required. It was developed by Stakeholder Group of RACHP employers supported by the IOR in consultation with wider industry including training providers.  The RACHP Engineering Technician Apprenticeship Standard and Assessment Plan were approved by Government and are currently available for delivery from City & Guilds and BESA Assessment registered centres.

More informatoin about apprenticeships can be found in the links below.


Advice For Employers


Advice for Apprentices on the RACHP Engineering Technician Apprenticeship (Level 3)


Advice and resources for Training Providers


Advice for Students looking for Apprenticeship positions





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Latest news about Trailblazer Apprenticeship developments


Review of the RACHP Engineering Technician Apprenticeship at Level 3

During 2021 a group of employers and specialist trainers met, with support from the Institute of Refrigeration and City & Guilds, to review the "Trailblazer" apprenticeship. The Occupation Standard and Assessment Plan that form the basis of the current apprenticeship were originally developed by an employers’ group in 2021-2015 and approved for delivery in 2015.   The Occupation Standard and Assessment Plan set the requirements for future government-funded Apprenticeships at Level 3 and are aligned to the Engineering Council requirements for Engineering Technician.  The documents follow the mandatory requirements of Government funded Apprenticeship programmes and some minor amendments which have been proposed to ensure that these continue to meet employer needs, are practical to deliver and provide a consistent standard of assessment across centres.   The Institute for Apprenticeships and Training is now reviewing the proposed changes which include making qualifications mandatory as part of the training and the outcome of the revision is awaited later in 2022.


August 2021 - RACHP EngTech Level 2 takeup

The Gov.uk apprenticeships website now lists over 700 apprentices enrolled on the new Standard and 12 successful End Point Assessments having been completed. More details and feedback from apprentices to follow when available.


January 2021-August 20201 New Steering Group looks at the Standard and Assessment plan

The RACHP Standard and Assessment plan on which the centres and their end point assessment bodies based the new RACHP EngTech L3 apprenticeship is now over 5 years old. The Governments Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education is encouraging employers to make an informal review of the Standard and Plan (you can download the approved documents from links above), to ensure that there are no substantial changes in the sector that would require update and revision. A team of colleges and employers have been looking in detail at the contents and so far suggested fairly minor amendments that will help clarify requirements and correct errors.  A full consultation on proposed changes will be carried out in Autumn 2021. 


January 2020 - IOR prepares guidance for trainers questions

FAQ guidance is being prepared to address questions and queries about areas of the new apprenticeship such as gathering evidence for the Journal and Journal Synopsis, setting up an EndPoint Assessment centre, and issues with different qualifications being used to deliver on-programme training. The draft guidance is currently being reviewed by trainers and will be published shortly.


October 2019 - Training providers share experiences and plans of the new Apprenticeship

IOR ran a webinar for trainers currently offering the new RACHP EngTech Apprenticeship. Trainers shared what stage they are at, and raised questions and queries about the new Apprenticeship End Point Assessments. 10 Centres took part and a further 11 listened in.  Questions are being followed up with City & Guilds and further webinars are planned for the future. 

Centres currently offering the new Apprenticeship based on the RACHP EngTech Standard are: Dudley, Eastleigh, Grimsby Institute, NorthKent, Channicool, Liverpool, Nottingham, Northumberland, AirCo training, North Lindsey.


May 2018 - Revised Assessment Plan for the EngTech Apprenticeship now available

During the past six months the Employers Group has been working with the Government's new Institute for Apprenticeships, End Point Assessment Organisation and Training specialists to update the guidance on how the End Point Assessments for this apprenticeship will work. The Government revisions to how all trailblazer assessments must be carried out in mid 2017 led to some substantial redrafting and changes to the RACHP EngTech plan, which has now been finalised.

The new plan includes a lot more technical detail on critical factors that End Point Assessment Bodies need to use to develop End Point Exams. Currently, only City & Guilds and BESA Training are registered to provide End Point Assessment. The Plan contains information about:

  • Suggested contents for the Apprentice Development Journal, which is used as a record to document activities that the apprentice carries out during their everyday work
  • Guidance on preparing a Journal Synopsis to showcase their best work
  • Arrangements for the Apprentices' Professional Interview, where they will use evidence in the Journal Synopsis to discuss how they have applied the required skills, knowledge and behaviours in practice
  • The two Practical Test activities, equipment required and marking schedules for use by Independent End Point Assessors
  • How the different elements of the End Point Exam will be marked and graded to give an overall grade for the Apprenticeship
  • More on how Independent End Point Assessors will conduct the assessments, how they will be trained, who can be an Independent End Point Assessor, how independence and standardisation will be assured etc
  • Marking and grading of the End Point Knowledge and Skills Test - delivered as on line multiple choice test.

Download a copy of the Assessment Plan from the Institute for Apprenticeships website 


May 2017 - Employer Group request for increased funding for RACHP Eng Tech Level 3 Apprenticeship approved

The government funding cap for the RACHP EngTech Apprenticeship has now increased to Band 12 (up to £18,000) following a review prompted by the Employer Group and evidence from colleges of anticipated delivery costs. An additional £2,000 funding is also available for younger or disadvantaged apprentices. Effective for registrations from 1st May 2017.  Note: The trailblazer RACHP Apprenticeship is Level 3, any employers who only want their trainees to gain a Level 2 basic knowledge qualification instead of the Level 3 Apprenticeship will not be entitled to claim government funding for training after April 2018. 

City & Guilds has opened "automatic centre registration" for any City & Guilds centres that currently deliver Level 3 qualifications. Information and documents now available from their website includes 6090 Diploma handbooks, Assessment Materials and Sample Tests for the Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications.  Work is continuing on the End Point Exam guidance and Candidate Workbook Templates (Apprentice Development Journal) and details is expected to be available at the end of June. In the mean time the RACHP Apprenticeship Assessment Plan gives an outline of how this will work.

ACRIB has produce a searchable list of Trailblazer Apprenticeship training providers on its website  http://www.acrib.org.uk/help-and-advice/careers-and-training/find-a-training-centre  (If you work for a centre not shown please contact ACRIB to have your details added)

IOR offers free membership for EngTech Apprentices. Free membership is available to your students who are signed up on the RACHP Trailblazer Apprenticeship package. To apply please contact membership@ior.org.uk


Sept 2016 - RACHP EngTech Level 3 Apprenticeship registration by Centres:

The qualifications which will underpin the new Apprenticeship have now been launched by City & Guilds. The 6090 Diplomas in RACHP Systems at Level 2 and Level 3 Centre documents have been published on the City and Guilds website here. These qualification handbooks will help training centres considering offering the new Apprenticeship to prepare their programmes. Centres must apply for fast-track approval to deliver the qualifications and Apprenticeships.  


August 2016 - Government guidance for Employers on Apprenticehip Levy 

The government has published a series of guides on new funding arrangements. A Summary is available here.  Or view all of the key documents below:


June 2016 - Details of new Trailblazer Qualifications and Centre Registration from City and Guilds

Find out more about how Centres can register and how the new qualifications will work to support the apprenticeship here


May 2016 - Training Providers invited to send in expressions of interest in delivering new Apprenticeships

City & Guilds, a registered Assessment Organisation for the new RACHP Eng Tech Level 3 Apprenticeship, are inviting training providers to pre-register so that they can start delivering the new Apprenticeship in September this year (2016).  An information webinar is being held on 9th June to explain how the registration process will work, and introduce the new qualifications that will underpin delivery. Further webinars are scheduled for September when the Qualification Handbooks and Work Place Workbook Templates will be available. Contact Chris Bailey, Scheme Manager at City & Guilds to find out more about how your centre can deliver the new qualifications and apprenticeship. 


May 2016 - Employers encouraged to take on RACHP EngTech Apprentices from September 2016

Employers in England should make sure any new apprentices are enrolled on the new RACHP EngTech trailblazer programme from September. Colleges and independent training providers are now gearing up to deliver to the new standard, which will be a three year course during which candidates will study a Level 2 and Level 3 qualification.  The Apprenticeship is currently available from City & Guilds and existing training providers currently offering the old Mechanical Engineering Services (RACHP) qualifications and apprenticeship have to register to deliver the new scheme, with a fast-track approvals process available in most cases. 



January 2016 - Update on Launch

A launch of the RACHP Engineering Technician Trailblazer Apprenticeship is being planned to take place during National Apprenticeship Week. Register your interest in attending this free information event on the morning of 15th March in London. It will be an opportunity to find out about the latest developments in refrigeration apprenticeships. 


December 2015 - Latest news - Working to prepare for Delivery of new Apprenticeships in September 2016

The RACHP Engineering Technician Apprenticeship scheme approved in 2015 as one of the Trailblazer Apprenticeships is now considered “ready for delivery” and has had approval for funding of training by Government.  At least one Assessment Body is in the process of registering to deliver the new Apprenticeship programme – that is City & Guilds.  City & Guilds have been working closely with the Trailblazer Employers Group and the Institute of Refrigeration to prepare new qualifications and guidance material for trainers and employers to help deliver the new Apprenticeships.

Preparation of Qualifications and Assessment Materials

Consultation with employers on the principles of underpinning qualifications at Level 2 and 3 are on-going.  A meeting of the Trailblazer Employers Group will be held to look at the draft new qualifications in early February.  Subject to their approval, the next stage will be to gain input from a wide range of training providers during March, with opportunities for registered centres to look in more detail and comment on draft qualifications, assessment materials, test rig specifications, supporting documents, verification procedures etc to ensure these are practical and deliverable.

Awareness raising of changes

In parallel the Institute of Refrigeration is raising awareness of the new qualifications and how they will work in the sector. They are organising in a number of events and initiatives at industry events:

  • City & Guilds have agreed to participate on the IOR Stand at the ACR Show on 17th February with a Q&A session programmed on the new Trailblazer scheme.
  • Trade Association meeting talks and presentations 
  • A Launch Event supported by Government is being planned for Mid March in London as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

When will the new scheme be ready?

City and Guilds are working towards having the new scheme available for new employees/apprentice registrations in September 2016, and will ensure that training providers are kept informed and provided with all of the necessary information to prepare for the new scheme before its launch. 


September 2015 - Latest news - RACHP EngTech Apprenticeship now approved to prepare for delivery

The new Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heat Pump (RACHP) Engineering Technician Apprenticeship standard and assessment strategy has now been published on the list of approved standards on the Government Trailblazer website (10th Sept 2015). The standard and the assessment plan have been developed by employers in consultation with providers over the past 18 months, supported by the Institute of Refrigeration Education Committee.  The list of employers involved is shown on the website below.  A funding band for support towards the employers' cost of training and assessment under the new Apprenticeship has also been set. 

It is hoped that employers will be able to start Apprentices on the new scheme from September 2016.  Assessment Organisations (such City & Guilds) need to register for approval before they can begin developing materials for the new Apprenticeship  (such as workbooks, on line exams, specifications for practical tests and setting up an independent end point assessment panels). It is a recommendation in the new Apprenticeship that input from professional institutes such as the IOR is gained in the development of these materials or qualifications, to ensure that current industry standards are met and that they satisfy Engineering Council Engineering Technician requirements.

Employers will be able to choose which Assessment Organisation and Training Organisation they want to use for the RACHP Apprenticeship, and allocate the matched Government funding accordingly. The government Apprenticeship website will list the options available to employers and explain how much funding is available in due course.

The new Standard and Assessment plans place a much stronger emphasis on core refrigeration principles and science, backed up with practical assessments. They are available to view on line at:


May 2015 - Latest news - Assessment Plans under development

The Employers Group in consultation with a wider range of interested employers, training providers, past Apprentices, awarding bodies andprofessional institutes, is working on the next stage of development of the RACHP Apprenticeship.  New apprenticeships have to be supported with an Assessment Plan which outlines the principles for things like independent assessment of Apprentices at the end of their programme; quality assurance measures; examination methods; mandatory qualifications; the role of Training Organisations and Awarding Organisations.

The diagram here shows how the Assessment Plan for this Apprenticeship is developing (note this is only a draft and has not been approved or finalised as yet).  Once the Plan is finalised and approved by Government, the next stage will be for funding to be approved and then Awarding Organisations and Training Organisations can register to deliver the Apprenticeship.   There will be a lot more work around providing supporting workbooks, frameworks for gathering workplace evidence, guidance for employers, mapping evidence to Engineering Council standards; setting up independent Assessment Panels and End Test arrangements. Awarding organisations will also be able to develop qualifications to support the delivery of the standard, in association with industry.

  If you would like to be involved in the on going development process and consultations please contact us here.


March 2015 - Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Engineering Apprenticeship Trailblazer approved for development

On 12th March 2015 the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) confirmed their approval of a new Apprenticeship standard for the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Engineering Technician, developed by employers in the industry, with the support of industry bodies Institute of Refrigeration and the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Industry Board.  

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Apprenticeships are a real success story. Through giving leading employers in your sector the power to design and deliver high quality apprenticeships we can give young people the skills our economy vitally needs. I congratulate the members of the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Engineering Trailblazer on their involvement in designing the new apprenticeships for RACHP Engineering Technicians, which we have published today.”

For our sector this is a major step forward in improving skills and encouraging young people to take up careers in the sector.   IOR President, Graeme Maidment FInstR, explains that it is critical for us as an industry that we lead the development of skills for the RACHP sector. The new RACHP Engineering Technician apprenticeship will enable our industry to support and engage with young people at an early stage in their career - people who are going to be driving change and shaping our industry in the future. “The Institute of Refrigeration is proud to be working with so many employers, trainers and with trade associations through ACRIB on this exciting, ground-breaking project.  There is much more work to be done to bring this new standard to the market but we are confident that with continued high levels of support from employers, it will make an immediate and lasting contribution to the future of the industry. “

The new Apprenticeship standard outlines the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to achieve full competence in RACHP Engineering Technician job roles. The standard was developed by a group of twelve employers designated a “Trailblazer” by BIS.  They will continue now to prepare an Assessment Plan, leading to a new Apprenticeship for the RACHP Engineering Technician, linked to Engineering Council national standards.

The chairman of the group is John Austin-Davies FInstR (Commercial Director of George Barker & Co (Leeds) Ltd, part of the Epta Group). He and the other employers, large and small, representing the variety of our industry, are committed to seeing this new approach through. He comments: “Training to a consistent, and nationally agreed standard, is more important in this industry now than ever before. Our Industry is a major energy user, and in addition to the energy consumption there are other very significant environmental aspects, all of which mean that the technology is moving fast. We must be confident that we have a well prepared work-force to install safely and correctly, and maintain working with optimum efficiency. The Apprenticeship Trailblazer programme is the best opportunity we have to make the step-change necessary.”

The Apprenticeship is designed to be delivered over 3 years, with a strong focus on applying relevant scientific principles and fundamentals and a much clear role for the employer in work-based training. “It is a marvellous opportunity to build learning and training outcomes so that employers can trust and value the qualifications our staff achieve” said John Fraser, Operations Director, Star Refrigeration on hearing today’s news.

The next stage of development will include many more opportunities for further consultation within the RACHP industry, including training providers, existing apprentices, employers, manufacturers and those responsible for developing qualifications. 

The announcement of the success of the new RACHP Apprenticeship Standard comes during National Apprenticeship Week. Our industry has always been a strong supporter of training and apprentices as a way of bringing attention to careers in this interesting and varied sector. Through  initiatives such as National Student and Apprentice of the Year awards, SkillFRIDGE skills competitions and most recently the CoolScience stand at the Big Bang national science and engineering careers fair, and now its own Trailblazer Apprenticeship, it is making real progress in this area.  “No company would succeed by only looking at the present; we need to look to the future. By developing and inspiring young people to be involved in the refrigeration industry we are ensuring that this industry has a future.“ confirms Katie Boots, HR Director at GEA Refrigeration UK