Trade associations celebrate historic skills agreement
Three trade bodies have joined forces to secure an historic agreement from the four UK governments to manage and develop apprenticeships, qualifications and National Occupational Standards for the building services engineering sector.
The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA); SELECT and SNIPEF have created a joint body called BSE Skills Ltd, which has now been appointed to oversee vocational training in electrical, plumbing and HVAC.
This sets an historic precedent as it is the first time that trade bodies have received a government commission to carry out this work.
The government sponsored sector skills council SummitSkills was the managing body until it ceased trading in 2017 due to insufficient funding. Now, following a four-nation tender process, the central and devolved governments have turned to the three organisations in order to ensure a secure future for vocational training in these crucial specialist sectors.
As member bodies, the trade associations were able to demonstrate close links with employers as well as UK-wide capacity as part of the bidding process. They are now poised to work with their respective memberships – comprising more than 43,000 businesses representing around 342,000 operatives – to manage the delivery of a training framework for the whole sector.
“This sets a wonderful precedent for the future of vocational training across the UK,” said BESA chief executive David Frise. “We are very grateful to the UK governments for having the foresight to recognise the value industry bodies can bring to the management and delivery of vocational training in vital technical sectors.
“It is also extremely heartening to see three complementary bodies working closely together in partnership to achieve a result that should go a long way to addressing the skills shortages being experienced by building engineering employers. Congratulations to my own staff at BESA and to their counterparts at SNIPEF and SELECT for putting together such an excellent joint bid.”
Fiona Harper, head of employment affairs at SELECT, said it was vital that the sector retained control over the development of its own National Occupational Standards.
“They are the starting point for all the work we do in developing the training undertaken by our workforce,” she added. “Securing the agreement was testament to the hard work put in by all of the trade bodies involved. It will be exciting to see how we can develop this work and shape the training needs of the sector as new technologies and working practices develop,” she added.
Fiona Hodgson, chief executive officer of SNIPEF, also welcomed the agreement. She said the successful bid demonstrated the strength of trade associations “working together to ensure that the sector and its employers continue to have the occupational standards, qualifications and apprenticeship frameworks they need to maintain and develop a skilled workforce for the future”.
BSE Skills will now set about consulting with its combined memberships as well as relevant government departments and training providers to update National Occupational Standards for the sector right across the UK.
It has also undertaken to align and co-ordinate all end dates for UK qualifications and modern apprenticeship frameworks in line with the rapidly changing landscape for apprentice recruitment and funding.
The industry bodies have also identified a need to establish mutual recognition and transportability of all BSE qualifications across the UK and to recognise the specific needs of each industry and in all regions.