Most in the industry today are well aware of the high levels of training and certification that are now part of the landscape when it comes to the manufacture and installation of windows and doors. Long gone are the days when the industry worked to self-set standards.
Today’s industry is governed by stringent building regulations to which those manufacturing and installing windows and doors must adhere, and most companies are investing widely in their staff, ensuring they have the right skills to do their work to the highest standards.
For those carrying out key roles such as installation, there is the opportunity for them to be independently certified to demonstrate that they are qualified to carry out their role. The result is not only peace of mind for homeowners, but an on-going rise in standards in the industry, which benefits all parties.
Playing a key role in driving up these standards is GQA Qualifications, the fenestration industry’s leading awarding and qualifications writing body. 2021 sees the start of their 20th year of operation.
The ethos of GQA is that working towards qualifications and encouraging learning opportunities are vitally important if the fenestration industry is to continue to improve and to set the highest standards, and to make it appealing as an industry to young people looking for a career after education to help address the skills gap that has been prevalent in the construction industry for so long.
GQA is a major advocate of vocational careers and qualifications for the industry, and in the 20 years since it began operating has grown the network of approved centres delivering its qualifications from an initial 15 to over 200, and now employs 21 staff in total from an initial starting point of just seven.
In the last 20 years GQA has issued a staggering 142,00 qualifications
It is a sign of the progress made by the industry, that at its outset, GQA offered just 11 qualifications. Today it offers 238 and over the past 20 years, they have issued a staggering 142,000 qualification certificates.
Commenting on the milestones achieved, Mick Clayton, Chief Executive Officer of GQA says:
“As we enter our 20th operational year, I am very proud of what GQA has achieved and how it has grown. It is clear that the appetite for learning has never been greater amongst the tradespeople in our industry and despite the challenges of the pandemic I see significant growth in this during 2021. For GQA, as a leading awarding body, it is something we are delighted to see, and it is fantastic that that desire for self-improvement is leading people to think more about formal achievement in the form of qualifications or taking accredited courses.”
“We are committed to seeing our industry hone the skills of its tradespeople so that homeowners and commercial clients can always be confident of receiving the best quality of workmanship and service, and to making our industry a genuine career choice for youngsters leaving the education sector”.
2021 marked the 20th year of operation of GQA Qualifications. During those twenty years, the organisation has been humbled and honoured to find its influence growing amongst a broad range of key stakeholders and decision-makers. Today, the number of committees, initiatives and collaborations to which GQA has been welcomed has never been higher.
The links between GQA and Building Our Skills are firmly established with GQA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mick Clayton, being on the Board of this initiative to help make fenestration a career of choice. However, perhaps less well-known are some of the other organisations with which GQA is helping to shape future decision-making. For example, GQA Chairman, Mike Morris, is part of a Parliamentary Review Group, and GQA has featured in the ‘Parliamentary Review’ talking about the importance of qualifications. This is a guide to political and industry best practice in management is sent to over 500,000 leading business executives.
Justin Ratcliffe and Mick Clayton are representing GQA on The Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is chaired by Lord Blunkett. The Council brings together the influential industry figures from across the country.
In addition, GQA staff are to be found on the following committees and groups:
* The RISA Board. RISA is a UKAS accredited inspection body for the fenestration and construction industries.
* BEABF, a committee of the Awarding Bodies that work in construction
* The CAB Training Committee. CAB is the Council for Aluminium in Building.
* The GGF Health and Safety Committee and GGF Members meetings.
* The Steering Group for PAS 2030+A1 / PAS 2035+A1 – Retrofitting dwellings for improved energy efficiency.
* The official review of BSAu242 – Windscreen Repair Standards.
* The committee reviewing BS10125 – Vehicle Repair Standards.
* The Sector Advisory Group for Vehicle Repair and Automotive Glazing. This is a group set up to identify and advise the industries on competence solutions and approved CPD.
* The CITB Competence and Skills Group. This is a working party representing all CSCS card schemes to develop a competence framework, including a review of the CSCS card renewal process.
GQA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mick Clayton says:
“It’s so gratifying that GQA staff are able to help and support so many industry committees. To have a seat at the table when the decisions are being taken that will mould the future of the industries in which we operate is a true honour. Having acquired PAAVQ-SET, the awarding body for the polymer, engineering, chemical, pharmaceutical and nuclear industries, we are also keen to build on the strong links that this organisation has in its sectors. Going forwards, we also intend to look for more opportunities for collaborative working in the areas of print and construction.”
GQA Qualifications are the awarding body working with Novus in a major nationwide offender rehabilitation training scheme. The fenestration industry’s leading awarding and qualifications-writing body is working closely with Novus to deliver training programmes that raise the aspirations of offenders, increase their employability skills and opportunities to find sustainable employment, and help them to build positive futures for themselves, their families and communities. For almost 30 years Novus has been helping men, women and children of all ages and abilities, in custodial and community settings across England and Wales, to take new directions.
Novus works in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), Youth Custody Service, HMPPS Wales, G4S, charities and employers to help individuals turn their lives around.
GQA is now working with Novus at 14 of its sites, and expects this number to rise over the coming months. The pandemic has greatly affected how training can be delivered, and both GQA and Novus have had to adapt swiftly to online methods and in-cell learning. So far, all participating learners have been working towards an NVQ Level 1 in Health & Safety. Before the pandemic, learners in two prisons had additionally been able to benefit from practical training resulting in an NVQ Level 1 in The Principles of Window & Door Installation. At the time of writing, it is anticipated that GQA approved centres will shortly be able to restart practical courses inside custodial settings. In addition to achieving NVQ qualifications, learners can also benefit from the fact that GQA is the sole issuer of CSCS cards for the fenestration industry. For ex-offenders to be able to leave prison with a CSCS card to present to site managers is an additional step on the road to employment.
Commenting on its relationship with GQA, Novus’s Awarding Organisations and Compliance Lead, Karen Rose says:
“One of the main attractions of working with GQA is its unique ability to provide a combination of qualifications plus CSCS cards. We are extremely pleased with the level of support GQA is providing, and look forward to working with the organisation to develop its involvement with more of our centres in prisons around the UK.”
Simon Smith, who heads up the support programme with Novus for GQA added:
“We’ve seen substantial uptake in training from learners at all 14 prison locations, and I’m pleased to be able to say that we anticipate this not just continuing but increasing quickly. It’s extremely gratifying to be involved in such a worthwhile initiative. I feel that not only are we making a difference for ex-offenders, but we are also really helping to address the industry’s skills shortages too. I’m proud that GQA can be part of this whole rehabilitation process.”