Training reset for glazing qualifications

By Jon Vanstone, Certass.

Certain people talk about the need for a qualified workforce. Apparently, it is the solution to a problem, but it seems that the only problem it is solving is how I can sell more qualifications.

You only need to look at the gas industry to see that a qualified workforce cannot be deemed a competent workforce. This fact was not lost on HSE with its new increased demand of a minimum 53,000 inspections every year from Gas Safe Register and its qualified engineers register.

There is a place for qualifications as a route to learning and developing skills, but it cannot be the only path as people learn in different ways and we need flexibility.

NVQs in glazing have failed; the reason so few subscribe to undertake them is not laziness or a lack of belief in developing skills. Instead, there is currently little benefit in having a vocational qualification unless it is ordained by our employer.

Installers with NVQs have proven to be no more competent than their counterparts as proven by industry competency failure rates. Installers with NVQs earn no more than those deemed proficient by their experience.

We need to change the foundations on which we build our skills programme and start again from the position of the learner as opposed to the qualification authority. Let us accept that we have not got it right, no matter how hard it is to change.

Our sector has historically proven that real innovation tends to only occur at the product level and any service innovation is often a thinly disguised programme to expand existing product sales.

Innovation cannot happen by committee or through public forums designed primarily to give a tick in the publicity box for those concerned, numerous presentations and some photos taken from the right angle. These events always have the same people and always produce the same result.

In the last three months of 2018, I spoke at six regional workshops on skills learning and accreditation. There was a 15-minute presentation followed by more than three hours of discussion. The information collected through listening to those who do the actual construction work, has been presented back to CITB and the relevant government departments. It will form the basis of new services into glazing and related sectors in 2019 and will not be more of the same.

Change is inevitable, and it is time that certain bodies stop trying to fight against innovation. In the long run those who won’t evolve will become a part of history, and our industry will be better for that.