Three trade associations win bid oversee building services apprenticeships and standards

Annette McGill

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), the Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) and SELECT, the trade association for the electrical contracting industry in Scotland, have been appointed to oversee vocational training in electrical, plumbing and HVAC across the UK.

BESA Chief Executive David Frise welcomed the decision to appoint trade bodies to oversee training. He said: “This sets a wonderful precedent for the future of vocational training across the UK. 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.”

The three organisations have set up a joint body called BSE Skills Ltd. which will manage and develop apprenticeships, qualifications and National Occupational Standards for the building services engineering sector.

Vocational training in this sector had previously been managed by the government sponsored sector skills council Summit Skills - but this organisation closed down in 2017 due to lack of funds.

Governments in England, Scotland and Wales have now turned to these three trade bodies to manage vocational training in their sectors. The three bodies have a combined membership which represents nearly 350,000 operatives.

Fiona Harper, Head of Employment Affairs at SELECT said in a statement: “It was vital that we retained control over the development of our National Occupational Standards, as these are the starting point for all the work we do in developing the training undertaken by our workforce.

“Everyone in the industry understands the importance of qualifications and it will be exciting to see how we can develop this work into shaping the training needs of the sector going forward. As new technologies and working practices develop, it’s vital that the industry controls its own destiny in the training and skills development”.

The move comes amidst widespread criticisms of recent apprenticeships reforms. Official figures show that apprenticeship starts plummeted by 28% for the academic year to June.

The poor delivery of apprenticeships, occupational standards and training impacts facilities managers attempting to ensure their buildings and building services are well constructed and maintained.

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