Skills shortage, or lack of experience?

Thursday, January 19, 2017 9:01 AM

The Building Engineering Services Association recently sponsored a RAC/H&V round table debate attended by representatives from across the industry including M&S, Sainsbury’s and the Institute of Refrigeration. The debate discussed the well documented skills shortage within the industry, and considered the importance of evidencing an operative’s competence.

Many industry experts have called upon the HVACR sector to use training to tackle what they regard as a pressing skills shortage. Paul Alway manager of refrigeration specification at M&S, doesn’t see the problem as a shortage of skills “It isn’t that we haven’t got skilled engineers. For me, sufficient experience is one thing that we miss.”

The relevance of today’s training in relation to the job in hand and the opportunities to gain experience was questioned by the group, Dave Bartlett from Star Refrigeration suggested that “training is too often delivered to enable you to gain a qualification rather than assess your understanding and ability”.

Everybody agreed that dealing with a polarised and rapidly changing skills landscape will be an enormous challenge. However Graeme Fox, director of ACRIB and Senior Mechanical Engineer at BESA identified the new ACRIB SKILLcard as the answer. “The SKILLcard is continuously updatable with all qualifications and training being stored on the card electronically. The old ACRIB SKILLcard was basically just an acknowledgement that you had an F gas qualification, whereas the new card will identify your NVQ’s or SVQ’s and even qualifications that aren’t necessarily sector-related.”

Tim Rook, Technical Director at the BESA agreed that SKILLcard’s are a valuable resource, and added “You are demonstrating your competence on one card and it moves with the individual so, as projects move between companies, there is no need to replicate paperwork on training records. It is in other words – proof of compliance.”

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