SummitSkills, the sector skills council for building services engineering (BSE), has recommended significant changes in training and education for the sector in England, following the completion of stage two of Horizon, the Sector Skills Agreement for the industry.
Following analysis and liaison with employers, SummitSkills, in partnership with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), has identified a number of areas where beneficial steps can be taken to support the sector’s employers and to help a sustainable number of people gain employment.
A significant recommendation for England is that technical certificates should be supported only as part of a full framework apprenticeship or in conjunction with a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), and should not be funded independently. Rather than having a large number of students on stand-alone technical certificates that are unlikely to find work in the sector, entry and progression routes will be developed to support a sustainable number of new entrants based on those likely to secure employment.
Essentially, the impact of this is that current funding on stand-alone technical certificates will be diverted to other areas that would benefit the sector such as renewable energy training and business development.
Keith Marshall, Chief Executive of SummitSkills, said: “SummitSkills can find little evidence to support the notion that students are progressing from stand-alone technical certificate courses into employment. There is also concern that the number of people, particularly young people, undertaking technical certificates is out of proportion to the number of new employees required in the sector. Indeed, in some cases there is in the order of ten times as many people studying technical certificates, as the industry actually needs. Consequences include young people having great difficulty in finding employment in their area of study and then having failed to find employment, working on their own in the domestic sector which does nothing to improve the image of the sector.”
Peter Hucker, of Daly Engineering Ltd, supports the recommendations and commented: “In SummitSkills, we have a body that for the first time has gathered and collated a great deal of data from employers about the needs of the sector. Its conclusions are inescapable and if this industry is to prosper collectively then training provision needs restructuring to deliver exactly what the employers (and their clients, because that is the main driver along with legislative pressure) require for the future.
“SummitSkills has done an excellent job here of identifying the drivers of change in this sector. Restructuring along the lines that they have articulated is very important to the future of our industry.”
SummitSkills is now working closely with the LSC and training providers on the recommendations to ensure any implementation is carried out through a managed and structured process.