Avoiding uncertainty with the development of a new learning hub dedicated to modular and portable buildings


Uncertainty is a word not often used within the Modular & Portable Building Association, which is currently celebrating 80 years by launching a new specialist accreditation centre and learning hub for its membership and the wider construction industry

At a time when many parts of the construction industry are capitulating, the offsite sector moves from strength to strength, embracing an opportunity provided by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) with grant funding made available for the development of an assessment infrastructure over the next two years.

As a growing industry, the need for specialist training and qualifications has increased considerably over the last five years. This has been heightened with the changes to the Construction Skills Cards Scheme (CSCS) and the removal of Construction Related Occupation (CRO) cards. Without any action, the resulting restriction of operatives to access sites due to the lack of accreditation was forecast to be one of the largest risks the sector has faced in the last 80 years.

With so much coverage for offsite, it’s easy to forget the complexity of modular and portable buildings by comparison. The term ‘offsite’ is applied to more products than ever – prefabricated concrete, steel or timber – but modular and portable buildings are more than an assembly; they are the assembly. This means that an installer of modular or portable buildings has to manage the mechanical installation, plumbing, joinery, basic electrical, painting, flooring and at times more. Until the development of the qualification QUB806 Installer and Dismantler of modular or portable buildings, the most fitting qualification a specialist could follow to fulfil all knowledge was that of a maintenance fitter but more likely a choice was made to gain a qualification in one trade and obtain a CRO card to suit.

Hence the risk across the sector of an army of multi-skilled operatives that had been forced down the route of a card in one trade facing a significant handicap compared with the approach of traditional construction.

The funding from CITB will be used in the development of a specialist accreditation centre within the Modular & Portable Building Trade Association (MPBSATC) to deliver an infrastructure of assessment routes for external or in-house assessment of experienced workers through onsite assessments. This will form part of a new learning hub that will coordinate specialist training and apprentices alongside the delivery of National Vocational Qualifications.

The hub will bring together all of the learning and development needs for the volumetric modular and portable building stakeholders, qualifying experienced workers, opening up new entrants and providing a continual base of specialist training.

Building on the already successful specialist electrical training programme introduced in 2014, the MPBA developed a sector-specific training plan with CITB for 2017-2018. This will pilot a wider range of training developed within a member-led steering group that provides coverage of the key skills required for an operative working with modular and portable buildings.

It is the culmination of those key skills that are all then assessed to obtain the modular and portable building qualification (QUB806). The assessment infrastructure will expand to obtain centre status with C-Skills, removing the burden from CITB’s own National Specialist Accreditation Centre (NSAC), which is under immense pressure from a number of sectors with demand for qualifications.

The centre status will see the creation of two internal quality assurance specialists and training of up to 12 new assessors to provide national coverage of assessments. With a target of a minimum of 300 vocational qualifications to be issued over a two-year period, efficiency in assessment while maintaining the high quality of assurance is required. Dedicated centre management and governance will be provided overseen by the trade association.

The final piece of the centre, which has eluded the sector for a long time, is that of a specialist apprenticeship that meets the needs of a multi-skilled workforce.

A trailblazer programme is currently underway, supported by CITB and 13 employers within the MPBA membership, to create a new standard route based around the qualification modules of QUB806 and the specialist training available.

The creation of the MPBSATC will remove the demand and risk on NSAC to support a growing specialist industry. The development of the centre will provide an infrastructure that will deliver long-term qualification availability to the sector without adding additional burden to the existing infrastructure.

The assessment centre will be launched online at www.learninghub-mpba.biz in early April with a view to the finalisation of the trailblazer programme later in 2018.

Why look backwards when you can continue to look forwards? After 80 years, the Modular & Portable Building industry is just getting started! We already have the highest quality factory-produced modular assemblies and portable buildings so now we add to that the highest skilled and continually educated workforce in construction.


Jackie Maginnis


Modular & Portable Building Association

Tel: +44 (0)870 241 7687



Twitter: @MPBAUK



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