These professionals just starting out in their career took part in a special award ceremony for students, employers and trainers as part of the Cooling Industry Awards on 27th September.  The awards are designed to recognise excellence and reward some of the most hard-working, dedicated and promising up and coming individuals, as well as the teachers and employers who support them.   


Those on the list will get the chance to make their young professionals’ voice heard and take part in some of the sector’s most exciting events. Past winners have, for example been invited to give the toast at the prestigious IOR Annual Dinner and take part in a President’s debate on the future of the industry.


The Student Awards has been held for nearly 20 years, initially as a lunch event at the Belfry in Birmingham, and now as the very first award presented at the Cooling Industry dinner.  Each year, entrants continue to impress the team of volunteer judges, Chaired by Roger Borer of the IOR, with their level of knowledge and dedication showing a high level of attainment. Along with details of their qualifications, experience, evidence of skills, professional history and examples of good work, the entrants were required to provide the judges with an insight into the students’ skill base, aptitude and knowledge. In addition, the entrants were asked to explain in their own words why they considered they should win the award. There was a lot of evidence for judges to consider of individuals showing exceptional levels of academic and practical achievements but equally many examples of the student giving over and above the standard expectations in the work performance.

The ten finalists’ names this year are:

  • Charlie Conway: Foster Refrigerator (Loughborough University)
  • Stephen Day: Purecold Solutions (Chillair Training Academy)
  • Lewis Edwards: HR Services (Chillair Training Academy) Silver Award Winner
  • Jack Ellery: Daikin (Grimsby Institute)
  • Kieran Kitching: iCool (Grimsby Institute)
  • Brad Noble: 21Degrees (Grimsby Institute)
  • Charlie Roper: JD Cooling Systems (Grimsby Institute) Bronze Award Winner
  • Michael Smith: Dale Smith Refrigeration (Chillair Training Academy)
  • Tom Tycer: Weatherite Air Conditioning (Chillair Training Academy) Gold Award winner
  • Dale Wilkinson: Foster Environmental (Grimsby Institute)

Winners received Certificates and cash prizes for the top 3 nominees from the RAC Magazine. The IOR will be recognising their outstanding commitment to their studies and to the industry with a years’ free membership to all ten finalists which will provide them with many opportunities to continue to develop their career through access to IOR technical information, Codes of Practice, invitations to networking events and online training materials.

The IOR has been closely associated with the Awards Ceremony and followed the careers of many of the finalists over the years. This has mapped closely to the IOR work to improve the range of its offerings to help support professional development with webinars, e-learning and regional breakfast Cool Talks, as well as helping to update Apprenticeship Standards. In our fast changing industry, employers and training providers are having to adapt content and delivery style to supply the sector with young professionals, who are not only “work-ready” but also fully grasp the market’s new and evolving technical demands. The RAC & IOR National Student Awards naturally celebrates those who have really grasped the opportunities the sector offers for challenging and exciting careers. For the IOR Education and Training Policy group it also provides a snapshot of training levels in the sector which is a crucial part of the IOR’s mission to improve standards.

It has never been more important to put careers in RACHP on the radar. RACHP is a flourishing sector with increasing demand for competent and qualified air-conditioning, refrigeration and heat pump engineers and technicians. Our research has shown that over 60% of the current workforce is aged between 35 and 54 and there is a risk that the supply of newly qualified technicians and engineers will not be able to match rising demands in a few years’ time.

The IOR has been actively promoting the sector by supporting careers events in the past, but also making direct contact with new students in colleges and helping to develop the new Trailblazer apprenticeships. In particular the IOR has been joining in the work of the Women’s Engineering Society to help promote opportunities for careers in cooling for women.

We would encourage all employers and trainers to help us to identify and develop future talent by continuing to support these student awards as well as the high profile practical competitions that raise the profile of careers and student achievement in the sector.   Entries for next years’ IOR & RAC National Student of the Year awards will open in February 2018.