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GQA, the awarding and qualifications writing body is well known for its work in a number of specialist sectors. However, one of these may come as something of a surprise: that of chimney occupations. The organisation is growing its business in this niche area, and offers three specialist NVQs. Chimney Sweep, Nick Hannam, is the latest candidate to gain a GQA NVQ. Having undergone training provided by Chimney Skills Training Ltd, Nick has now achieved a Level 2 NVQ in Sweeping, Servicing & Inspecting Flues and & Appliances.

Nick’s story is an interesting one. He spent a number of years as a Key Account Manager in the pharmaceutical industry, before deciding to retrain in a completely different field. He qualified in 2021 as a Chimney Sweep with the National Association of Chimney Sweeps. Later Nick was formally recognised by the Association as a Master Sweep after completing the NVQ. Nick recognised that qualifications were going to be vital to his success and the success of his Wakefield-based business, Cosysweep. Nick explains:

“The regulations governing the world of chimney sweeping occupations are complex. Operators in this industry need to keep on top of them. Gaining additional NVQ Level 2 training and specialist qualifications gives Cosysweep an advantage, and helps to reassure homeowners about the calibre of people they are inviting into their home. There is a personal pride that comes with being as qualified as I can be but also a business advantage. I am now gaining more work from commercial organisations such as holiday parks, estate agents and pubs.

“I now have an additional role as Area Assessor with the National Association of Chimney Sweeps, covering Yorkshire and the Northeast of the country up to the Scottish borders. I’m currently a sole trader, but I’m sure I’ll be taking on staff soon. It’s interesting the effect that soaring gas prices is having on things. Before, fires and stoves were decorative. Now, people are bringing them back into use because of the high cost of gas. A lot of people seem to be opening up their fireplace and turning to solid fuel so that they can save on their gas bills.

“I’d definitely encourage others in my position to go for GQA qualifications to prove that they’re committed to excellence.”

The other NVQs offered by GQA in the area of Chimney Occupations include Level 3 in Inspecting & Designing Chimneys & Dry Solid Fuel Installations; and Level 2 in Installing Chimney Flues & Solid Fuel Appliances.

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