Closing the skills gap
The UK faces a shortage of skilled workers, particularly in construction and manufacturing. We report on how Bohle is helping to meet the challenge.
“The first thing we do when people come in to attend the course is to sit them down and explain that it’s not about top-down learning but shared learning,” Amanda Carr, Bohle’s business development executive, said. “We may know the technical applications and limitations of products but it’s the guys attending the course who have the ideas and the technical expertise to use it.”
Originally developed in Germany, Bohle has been running its UK UV bonding customer training course for over 15 years. Now it has partnered with The Vocational College and qualification awarding organisation GQA, to offer a UV Bonding Unit as part of the GQA Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Glass Processing (QCF) and GQA Level 3 Diploma.
“We have been offering the course as part of our customer support programme for some time. It’s free to attend for all customers, and is designed to give glass processors, furniture makers and shop-fitters an understanding of what can be achieved using UV Bonding technology,” Amanda said.
The UK has a significant skills deficit, something particularly acute in construction and construction-related industries. According to government figures, 625,000 16-24 year-olds were registered as unemployed at the end of last year.
“A number of factors have come together in the glass processing sector, which have contributed to the loss of some skills and pressure on others,” Andy Carrington, technical officer and external quality advisor at GQA, said.
“On the IGU side, we have seen increasing automation and the introduction of increasingly stringent legislation, pushing some smaller glaziers out of business and with it the traditional glazier skills set that often went with them.
“And on the glass processor side, I’m not sure that we have been effective in communicating some of the very exciting career opportunities that exist within the sector, so outside of perhaps family-run businesses, a new generation of glass processors hasn’t been coming into the industry, as skilled workers have moved out of it at the other end.
“GQA is working with industry to communicate the opportunities that exist to a new generation of glass processors and to support the sector in recruiting and training them.
“For whatever reasons glass and glazing related industries are not promoted at our schools and colleges as potential career options.
“They are not seen as the way forward or technically challenging but with the introduction of new high-tech equipment and the research and development within glass and glazing associated industries they can provide a sustainable career footpath to all.”
The Bohle UV Bonding Unit, for the most part, emulates the consumables, machinery and tooling in the wholesaler’s core customer workshop but with the addition of a series of Q&A and practical assessments. This includes training on optimum environments for UV Bonding covering everything from room and glass temperature to storage of adhesives.
It also explores glass requirements and cleaning to safe manual handling, UV light and equipment and adhesive application and clamping.
“Again, it’s not about us telling people what to do but giving them an understanding of the things that they need to know to achieve what they’re trying to do,” Amanda said.
“Furniture makers or shop fitters won’t necessarily have a detailed understanding of glass so it’s about giving them the basics, for example, they need to know the particular edge quality demands for the process, as well as recommended minimum thicknesses.
“It’s also about giving everyone an understanding of not just how to UV bond glass successfully but also the limitations of application and the alternatives to it.”
Bohle’s Introduction to UV Bonding [and NVQ Level 2/Level 3 Unit] at a glance:
- Glass Requirements
- UV Light and Equipment
- Adhesives including application to glass and metal fittings
“This is very much a practical programme,” Amanda said. “There is a theoretical element to it first to build basic understanding but even this is a two-way process as we talk about the application of the technology in their own businesses.
“It’s also worth mentioning that the course and training units are delivered in our showroom and training centre, which helps recreate a workshop environment; it’s not about classroom-based learning.
“This makes it very much a two-way street. It also works well for us because it provides us with valuable insight into changing customer requirements and allows us to work with them to meet them.”
As the largest provider of glass-related qualifications in the UK and with NVQ pass rates at 91%, The Vocational College has been instrumental in supporting Bohle in its approach to GQA to get the UV Bonding Unit written into its glass processing NVQ, as well as quality assuring the standard of teaching.
Paul Gray, operations manager at The Vocational College, said: “What Bohle had was a very good internal course. We have supported them in adding value to it by getting it formally accredited as an NVQ unit with GQA and offering quality assurances against it.
“Partnerships with industry are a really important part of what we do. It means that by definition, courses are highly tuned to the needs of industry, with a strong vocational focus but also the development of core skills, for example Maths and English, which are important in supporting the broader skills agenda.”
Mick Clayton, CEO of GQA Qualifications, said: “Training and development is key to success of people and business and it is important to recognise the skills that need to be brought to the table for good quality delivery. It’s fantastic to be involved in this initiative with Bohle and The Vocational College and we look forward to its success.”
“There is a lot of exciting technology out there, which will allow glass processors to push the boundaries of design and innovation. Understanding their safe application is the key which unlocks what is incredible potential,” Amanda said.
“Our new partnerships with the Vocational College and GQA represent a real and meaningful move toward closing the skills gap, as well as raising the industry’s profile and setting exemplary standard.”
The next Bohle Introduction to UV Bonding courses will take place on Thursday January 26 2017 and Thursday February 23 2017. Customers can attend either free of charge as part of Bohle’s own learning and seminar programme or as part of the NVQ programme.
To find out more email Amanda Carr, Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 342 1100.