Major new initiative to improve building services skills strategy

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In a push to improve the current skills strategy in the building services sector, the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has invited companies and relevant organisations to join the BSE Skills Partnership

The Building Services Engineering (BSE) Skills Partnership is a strategic alliance of employers and organisations. It is opening itself up to new members in an effort to deliver a more comprehensive strategy and “provide a wider representation of the BSE industry, improve transparency and encourage broader industry ownership of the crucial skills agenda”.

BESA believes the need for a broader approach to a skills strategy has never been more important, especially at a time when the industry is moving quickly out of ‘lockdown’ to take on a challenging and fast moving pipeline of projects.

According to government figures, there was an 80% decrease in small firms taking on apprentices during the Covid-19 crisis which has in particular, been hard hitting for young people.

‘D-Day’ for skills

BSE Skills Partnership chairman, Neil Brackenridge, said: “With thousands of skilled workers and apprentices either on furlough or looking at uncertain employment prospects, we are rapidly approaching ‘D-Day’ for skills in this sector.

“The prime minister has also put construction and its related sectors at the forefront of plans for rebuilding the UK economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which means we have a huge responsibility to ensure we have the right mix of skills and competencies for the immediate and long-term future.

“BSE Skills Partnership is the ideal vehicle for capturing the requirements and aspirations of our sector and then getting top level government support.”

What does the BSE Skill Partnership involve?

The BSE Skills Partnership aims to provide a forum to identify the industry’s skills issues, how they can be addressed and what contribution each organisation can make. It also provides an industry view to government, which carries more weight than separate representations from individual bodies.

The partnership is recognised by the Construction Leadership Council and CSCS as a standard setting body, which approves qualifications for Engineering Services SKILLcard. Its primary focus is on craft and technical level occupations in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

Until now, the BSE Skills Partnership had been an extension of BESA’s Education committee and its membership included employers, trade associations, professional bodies, awarding bodies, assessment organisations, training providers and SKILLcard, but it is now keen to extend its reach and hear from other interested bodies, employers and individuals.

Brackenridge, who is also incoming president of BESA, added: “As well as attracting new people into the sector, there will also be a key task in working out how we re-deploy some existing workers to areas of particular need.

“There will also be a need for re-skilling as we move more rapidly towards modern methods of working, such as the increased use of digital systems and offsite manufacture.”

Any individual or organisation interested in joining the BSE Skills Partnership should email: BSESKills@thebesa.com.

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