SWCA and Zmart Hohm team up on first regional smart home technician courses

SWCA and Zmart Hohm team up on first regional smart home technician courses

Two West Country businesses are collaborating to create the first regionally available apprenticeship for trainee smart home technicians.

South West Construction Academy in Bristol and Zmart Hohm in Gloucester are working together to design and roll out the South West’s first Smart Home Technician (SHT) apprenticeship course, available this autumn.

Newly revised Smart Home Technician apprenticeship guidelines were issued by the Government last summer but with low awareness and with experts needed to write the courses, industry uptake has been slow.

Now, led by Paul Smithies, a former tutor with Wiltshire College who previously spent 16 years on the tools running his own business, SWCA is offering the newly-accredited course from September 2024. It is one of only five organisations in the UK delivering the apprenticeship.

Smart home technology – used for lighting, heating, security, audio, access or energy management – has normally been adopted by developers and owners of high end properties.

However the technology is now reaching a wider market as the efficiency benefits are realised and electricity as prices rise. Later this year the South West’s first project of smart housing association homes will be completed in Weston-super-Mare.

The academy, recently marking 10 years in business after husband and wife Shane and Nicola McCallum set it up in 2013, is an independent provider of trades courses in Bristol and the surrounding area, based out of 5,500m2 of offices, teaching rooms and workshops in St Phillips.

Course material for the SHT will be aimed at installation of a range of different systems to manage every aspect of home technology, from heating set-up to security and lighting. Each can either act individually or be tied into one coordinated system, manageable from a smartphone.

“Smart home technology is coming around the corner in a major way,” said Mr Smithies, “and the industry will need qualified technicians who can properly install it.

“As ever these things are created and then the courses need writing – so it’s important to take consultancy and advice from experts like Zach so that the installation training is cutting edge.

“There are some other providers dotted around the UK but no one’s taken it up and run with it yet – as ever it takes small operators like us to take the initiative before the industry follows. So it’s great to be working together and we’re excited about the potential for these new courses.”

After 12 years working with his father’s electrical company in Gloucestershire, Mr Meek set up Zmart Hohm in 2019 to offer intelligent home and commercial systems fit for modern properties.

His company is itself accredited to deliver the automation system from Loxone, which is headquartered in Austria but has offices in the UK as well as around Europe, in China and the US.

He said: “We’re on a mission to provide as many people with high-quality smart home and commercial automation systems as possible.

“We’re very aware that there are many systems nowadays that claim to be smart but ultimately end up adding more complication to people’s lives. We also appreciate that smart systems can be scary and this can result in people sticking to what they know.

“However, we know that it is possible to add modern-day convenience to any home or commercial building without complicating things. We are committed to providing our customers with all of the benefits that smart technologies can provide while also ensuring that our systems are easy to use, reliable and familiar.

“As such it’s great to be working with Paul and the team at SWCA to help deliver these courses. Electrical contractors can be sure that the demand is going to be significant in coming years.”

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