The bigger picture

The Master Fitter Challenge (MFC) has become one of the FIT Show’s more prominent regular features at the three-day event. Managed by the industry’s specialist qualifications awarding body, GQA Qualifications, the challenge invites professional installers to compete against each other. GQA director Mick Clayton explains how the competition is more than just entertainment.

Our involvement at the FIT Show came over four years ago, when the organisers approached us to discuss managing the competition. Setting the highest level of criteria for the industry to achieve is what GQA are about, and with our involvement delivering qualifications through our Approved Centre Network the opportunity was a good fit.

Historically, the glazing industry has been perceived to be unreputable by consumers. Our mission is to reverse the mindset of end-users with a goal of ensuring every installer or fitter holds one of our qualifications. In turn, we hope to see an overall improvement in the market.

Those entering the MFC must prove they are up to date and compliant with government and industry Competent Person Schemes requirements. All those applying will undergo a telephone interview linked to installation practice and building regulations, with those successful going on to the site observation round.

An independent panel will then review the observation reports before confirming six finalists who will take part in the two-day final at the NEC, Birmingham in May 2017.

The winners will be announced at the exhibition’s gala event on the evening of the second night and presented with their trophy and a cash prize of £5,000.

The MFC Pavilion is set up to replicate as many of the exposures of a real-life site as possible. We also look to make sure that all the fitters face the same challenges, in terms of new products and technologies, as they would have in their normal day-to-day work setting. And then there’s the pressure of doing all this in front of their peers.

While assessing the fitter, we look for knowledge, key skills, safety approach, professionalism, and the way the individuals handle the tools and products chosen for them, not how quickly they finish off the job.

Our challenge is to ensure that we offer as much in the way of learning and development opportunities for the glazing industry, and this means continuously learning.

Involvement at the FIT Show gives the opportunity to showcase to other installers, fitters, builders and fabricators what can be achieved from learning on-the-job skills and being recognised for those skills, not just on paper but from an individual’s capability to install windows and doors professionally and competently, this helps improve self-worth and confidence in a person.

GQA qualifications not only give installers the opportunity to showcase their existing knowledge and skills, but can also highlight areas for improvement in fitting glazing products, and can see installers gain a greater understanding of new products, different methods of installation, areas of health and safety, customer service, and excellent workmanship.

GQA industry qualifications are delivered in over 70 training centres throughout the UK, some of which are fabricators, set up to train their own and other installers. To enter for Master Fitter Challenge 2017, log on to