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Employers urged to join push for skills strategy

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) is inviting companies, individuals and relevant organisations to join a major new initiative tasked with extending the current skills strategy for the building services sector.

The Building Services Engineering (BSE) Skills Partnership, which is a strategic alliance of employers and organisations, is opening itself up to new members in a bid 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”.

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

Government figures also suggest there was an 80% drop in small firms taking on apprentices during the Covid-19 crisis and that young people have been hit particularly hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“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,” said BSE Skills Partnership chairman Neil Brackenridge.

“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,” added Mr Brackenridge, who is also incoming President of BESA.

The BSE Skills Partnership provides a forum to identify the industry’s skills issues, to agree how they can be addressed and what contribution each organisation can make.  It regularly 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.  It is UK-wide and its primary focus is on craft and technical level occupations in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. However, it also considers professional and managerial occupations as required.
Until now it has been an extension of BESA’s Education committee and its membership includes 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.

“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 off-site manufacture,” said Mr Brackenridge.
Any individual or organisation interested in joining the BSE Skills Partnership should email: BSESKills@thebesa.com

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