An urgent need for skills for Fire Protection Equipment Installers

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Catherine Nelms talks to Training Manager Ian Gurling of the Fire Industry Association about the current state of play when it comes to the skills that are urgently needed in the industry

In this interview, Ian Gurling talks about what employers are looking for, apprenticeships for young people, and the desperate need to improve professional knowledge with training on British Standards.

Why do you think FIA training is so successful?

It’s so successful because it is written by subject matter experts, who are the people who write the standards around which it is based. It’s therefore written by those that understand it the best, and it gives the learners the best advantage for understanding the British Standard.

What about the trainers and how they can help people?

They are practitioners in the field, they are also involved in writing the standards in the first place, and if they are not directly involved in writing the Standards, then they are a member of our committees who are influencing those Standards.

Is there a real and urgent need to improve professional knowledge?

Most definitely, yes.

How do you know?

Because there are a lot of individuals out there who have not taken up training, and I get reports back from our learners and their employers that they have to fill the gap when something is not done according to the Standard.

So what is being said in the feedback, and what stories are they saying?

Put simply; it’s work that has not been done up to spec that they have had to go and either rectify or reinstall afterwards.  I don’t think it’s a deliberate thing; I think it’s people that aren’t educated to what the standard says.

Do you think that employers are looking for people with better skills?

They are looking for their technicians to have the skills and knowledge, yes.  And they are most definitely looking for their technicians to be able to demonstrate that they know what they are doing.

Okay, so why should people keep their training up-to-date?

Because Standards change. Technology changes — it marches on.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to re-attend a training course as CPD will generally do the trick. But, you need to keep up with current trends and current technologies.

What if young people want to get involved in becoming a maintainer or installer? Is there a space for them?

Most definitely. Unfortunately, there isn’t a big take up on the apprenticeship [right now]. Most employers are already looking for people that have got a certain level of skills. Having said that, there is a market for new blood to come into the industry: those who are leaving school with a technological understanding to be able to pick up the reins and move forward.

To find out more about FIA training courses, go to www.fia.uk.com

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Ian Gurling
Training Manager
Fire Industry Association (FIA)
Tel: +44 (0)203 166 5002
info@fia.uk.com
www.fia.uk.com

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