Reflections from the BSR Conference 2024

Jon Vanstone
Jon Vanstone

By Jon Vanstone, chair Certass TA.

When I entered the BSR Conference 2024 at NEC Birmingham, I could feel the anticipation in the air. Over 1,800 delegates had gathered, and most were eager to explore the heart of what competence truly means in the building and glazing industries.

It was a gathering of minds, all intent on exploring how we can elevate standards and ensure safety across our built environment.

Competence isn’t just a buzzword; it is fast becoming the very lifeblood of the construction industry. From the moment I began my role as chair of the Industry Competence Committee (ICC), I knew we had a monumental task ahead: to set clear, actionable expectations that would not only comply with regulations but instil a deep-seated pride in our work. This conference was a chance to crystallise these goals.

Discussion sessions began with an in-depth look at the ICC’s role. We explored our objectives which include advising the regulator and industry on competence, helping develop robust assessment frameworks, and promoting best practice. The essence of our message was clear: competence is about continuous improvement and professional accountability. It’s about doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

One of the most engaging sessions was our panel on the future pathways for Registered Building Inspectors (RBIs). The focus was on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) but not just in the traditional sense. We talked about structured peer reviews, where professionals learn from each other in a supportive environment and the introduction of modern apprenticeships. These apprenticeships are crucial for providing hands-on experience and mentoring, ensuring that our future professionals are well-prepared for the challenges ahead.

We emphasised the need for regular competence assessments. This isn’t just a box-ticking exercise. It involved periodic internal audits and real-time performance monitoring to ensure that professionals are not only meeting but exceeding standards. This is how we build a culture of excellence.

Competence is not a solo journey; it’s a collaborative effort. At the conference, we discussed the importance of working together with various industry sectors to develop and implement competence frameworks. Engaging with professional bodies, educational institutions, and other stakeholders ensures that our standards are relevant and widely adopted. This collaboration is the bedrock upon which we can build a safer, more competent industry.

Another critical aspect we explored was the legal duties related to competence. It’s essential for all professionals to understand these duties and how to demonstrate compliance effectively. Guidance is being developed with industry to help navigate these complexities, ensuring that everyone is up to date with the latest requirements and best practices.

For the glazing industry, these insights are particularly pertinent. Precision, compliance, and expertise are non-negotiable. The discussions at the BSR Conference provide a clear blueprint for glazing professionals to not only maintain but elevate their standards. By embracing robust CPD programs, regular competence checks, and collaborative efforts, we can ensure that our workforce is not only compliant with current regulations but also prepared for future challenges. The new Mandatory Technical Competency (MTC) for the industry is a step in that direction to align with the Building Safety Act and changes to the Building Regulations.

Reflecting on the conference, I am reminded of the immense potential we have as an industry to lead by example. My extensive experience in the glazing sector has shown me the transformative power of competence. It’s about promoting a culture of excellence and integrity, where every professional takes pride in their work.

As the chair of the ICC, I am committed to driving this vision forward. Our goal is to inspire every professional to strive for the highest standards, ensuring safety, quality, and customer satisfaction. This is not just about meeting regulatory requirements’ it’s about exceeding them and setting new benchmarks for the industry.

The BSR Conference 2024 was more than just an event, it was a call to action. It reinforced the critical role of competence in the building and glazing industries. With a collective effort and shared commitment to excellence, we can drive significant improvements in safety and quality across the sector.

As we move forward, I encourage you to embrace the principles discussed at the conference. Let’s make competence not just a requirement but a hallmark of excellence. Together, we can build a future where our industry is known for its integrity and high standards. This is our moment to shine, and I am confident that, with our combined efforts, we will rise to the challenge.