Weekly Email News for the Glass, Glazing & Fenestration Industries

From: Mick Clayton CEO,GQA Qualifications

It is being rumoured that, despite being established for nearly 30 years, Regulated Qualifications such as NVQs and SVQs are now (October 2018) considered by one of the CPS Operators not to be acceptable to meet minimum competency requirements, despite the English Government approved document naming Qualifications as the number one route to compliance.

There has been no industry consultation on this, and there has been no approval from Government for this backwards and insular decision. It’s a preposterous move to think so inwardly, when there are so many wider issues affecting us all in the Fenestration Industry that requires a collaborative and standardised approach.

As the industry’s only pro-active Awarding Body, everything that we at GQA Qualifications Limited do is aimed at improving the industry through its people; our qualifications are NOS* (National Occupational Standards) based and industry relevant, our approach is one that advises, supports and guides, and our work on Building our Skills – Making Fenestration a Career of Choice has the stated objective of promoting this industry to new entrants and career changers as a great place to be. We work independently, across the whole Fenestration and Construction sector, regulated by Government Organisations in all four countries of the UK.

Six years ago we were heavily involved in the discussions about the introduction of minimum technical competencies as a way of getting people assessed quickly, rather than having to take an NVQ or other formal qualification, albeit we are absolute in that qualifications should ultimately be the benchmark for anybody who wants to work in our industry over a sustained period of time or who wants to make Fenestration their permanent career.

But we understood the pressure that was being created by a widening skills gap, fewer people entering the industry than were leaving it due to age or other factors, and the MTC seemed a reasonable approach as a stepping stone to assessing minimum skills and knowledge prior to taking NVQ’s as the number one route to ‘compliance’ as far as the industry CPS Operators were concerned.

So, other than re-capping history, what’s my point?  Well, last week I received information from an industry employer stating that their CPS Operator was no longer willing to accept NVQ’s as a route to compliance, but was only willing to accept their own, non-accredited MTC as ‘currency’ for compliance. 

For the purpose of absolute clarity – I haven’t seen any written published evidence of this, though I can’t imagine a credible industry employer would state this if they hadn’t been told it.

As an industry, are we really trying to dumb down the entry criteria for those joining us even further?  Society as a whole understands qualifications, and there is clear evidence that installers turning up to quote for a job/install a job who have qualifications provide a greater degree of confidence in the industry to the end user.

It is unimaginable to me that an individual CPS Operator can take it upon themselves unilaterally to try to make access to our industry even easier, at a time when we should be looking at ways to provide improved access to training and skills provision as a way of enticing new entrants into an industry that can offer a long, varied, rewarding and interesting career, and provide the people investment and recognition that people in today’s society want.

Going back to the MTC development days of 2011 - 2012, the discussion was always about what do we need to do to improve skills within the industry, let’s work together - Federations, Skills Bodies, CPS Operators - all working together with one common aim.

Let’s provide the stepping stone I mentioned earlier and put in place a standard scheme that we could all work to and contribute towards.

As we all know, unfortunately, once the minimum technical competencies were approved we ended up with multiple versions and the industry having to understand a number of approaches to the compliance requirements of being a member of a competent person scheme. This was a missed opportunity to have a single uniform entry standard for the industry, but at least we still had the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government – now MHCLG) approved PAS2030 annex detailing the requirements for proving individual competence (which can be found on the www.gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/competent-person-scheme-current-schemes-and-how-schemes-are-authorised) to at least give the sector some clarity.

If it is proven to be the case that a well-established industry CPS Operator is refusing to accept the higher NVQ Regulated Qualification as a route to compliance then it is against the MHCLG approved document as published, and no deviation from the published criteria has been approved. Competent Person Schemes are audited by UKAS, and UKAS will use the Glazing annex of PAS2030, when carrying out these audits.

With Each Home Counts and the English Governments Industrial Strategy for Construction (2025) amongst others indicating that qualifications and training are a must if we are to improve as a sector and as a nation, this rumoured deviation is a massive step backwards for the industry.

*For those that may not be aware, qualifications in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are based on National Occupational Standards (NOS) developed by industry and consulted on by industry, with these NOS and qualifications also forming the backbone of competence schemes in Plant Operations and Construction such as CPCS and CSCS.

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