As the drive to energy efficiency continues, controls and building energy management systems are a point of focus for specifiers and end-users alike. Now is the time that our sector can step forward to offer clear advice and support on measuring, monitoring and managing energy use.
However, the onus is also on the controls industry to ensure that we are ready to ensure that our skills are the best that they can be. There has never been a more important time for the building controls sector to consider training and levels of professionalism in our industry.
The BCIA is already seeing high numbers of delegates through its own Technical Training courses, so we know that the industry is keen to invest in the knowledge of its staff. But we also have to consider newcomers to our sector, and how to attract them.
With the input of several of its installer and manufacturer members, the BCIA has established the BEMS NVQ Diploma as the first officially recognised course in our area. It is a comprehensive scheme of learning and workplace assessment that culminates in a test of occupational competency – allowing those who take the course and this test to demonstrate their know-how and ability to work safely and effectively on-site. This final test, known as the Building Controls Professional Assessment can also be used by organisations looking to assess the knowledge of their engineers.
At the moment, our NVQ Diploma is being delivered by Eastleigh College, but the BCIA would like to see the requirement for training spread across the UK through other colleges. The course is established so any company looking to take on apprentices in our industry now has a place to go and a ready-made framework.
Looking to the future, the NVQ Diploma is also going to be offered to senior operatives in our sector, or perhaps those transferring from other areas such as electricians. This will enable accreditation of prior learning, and a neat bridge between areas of knowledge that will ensure everyone is starting from the same good base level.
Of course, training courses only work if the industry uses them. So this is a call to action for companies to think about training and to prepare their engineers to meet the growing user requirement for what controls can deliver: energy efficiency; longer life of building services equipment; better comfort for occupants; and predictability of maintenance schedules to name a few.
For information on training courses see www.bcia.co.uk/training