As I write this column at the start of 2011, a handful of new students are setting out on the new NVQ in Building Management Systems. The hard work of the BCIA’s Skills Working Group, and its chairman Doug Robins, has resulted in the first NVQ of this kind being available for the controls sector.
The NVQ is a significant step for the BCIA, because it represents a growing awareness that building controls play a significant part in the energy efficiency and smooth operation of buildings. There is increasing demand for controls professionals who can actively demonstrate their abilities to understand building services and to install controls systems that work effectively.
The NVQ, which is a workplace-based assessment scheme, does just that. Students must complete tasks to the satisfaction of specially-appointed assessors, as well as proving that they understand the theory of controls.
Of course, it’s not just the young engineers who need to step up to the mark when it comes to demonstrating their capabilities and know-how. Government is showing a greater inclination to require competent persons to carry out work on and in buildings, on the basis that people who are properly qualified, and can prove it, are more likely to create efficient environments.
With this in mind, the BCIA is setting out on the next stage of its mission to raise standards in the controls profession. The Association is in the very early stages of establishing its own Competent Persons scheme so that individuals working in every key role in the controls sector can demonstrate their knowledge, training and capabilities.
As with all such schemes, it is a complicated and detailed process, but the BCIA believes that this is a worthwhile and necessary project. Our mission is to educate clients about using controls correctly to ensure that they see all the benefits that building controls can bring in terms of reduced energy bills and lower carbon emissions. In turn, we must demonstrate that the building controls sector is prepared to be open about its competencies and training.
By establishing a Competent Persons scheme, the BCIA believes that it can ensure the best possible results for both the industry and our clients because we are best placed to identify what constitutes competence in our field, and to identify how different parts of our profession should ideally be trained.
We are looking forward in 2011 to showing that the BCIA is taking a long-term view of education and training and ensuring that professionals in our sector can prove their worth.