A number of years ago, some ALEM members thought that the association should develop an NVQ Level 2 to meet the skills competence requirement of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). The CSCS is run by CITB on behalf of the Major Contractors Group and the related new qualification would cover the Installation, Repair and Maintenance of ALEM-related products. It was thought to pursue one NVQ to cover those working on lift tables, dock levellers and other loading bay equipment, rather than have a separate NVQ for each product type.
At that time, members had to obtain a letter of exemption from the CSCS in order that those carrying out this work could enter the site. However, it was considered that there would be an increasing onus on proving that they meet the requirements for safety and skills competence, including with regard to Electrics, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, Welding, Mechanical Fitting, etc. As such, it was sensible to start developing an accreditation route such as an NVQ2 that would not only ensure continued access to all sites but also show the commitment of ALEM members to safety, quality, etc.
The first step was to create a National Occupation Standard (NOS) which would be used as a basis for developing the NVQ. ALEM held meetings with representatives from the Door Hardware Federation, the Blinds and Shutters Federation and CITB to discuss a joint approach. After many meetings and much discussion, the NOS was finalised.
Once the NOS had been created with a Sector Skills Council it was necessary to get an Awarding Body to turn it into an NVQ. However, this required them to be confident that there would be enough people pursuing the new NVQ to make it economically viable. The numbers projected for Loading Bay Equipment Installation and Maintenance were not deemed to be sufficiently high but, as ALEM was working with the Door and Hardware Federation and the Blinds and Shutters Association on this project, CSkills Awards, associated with the CITB, believed it to be financially viable, so took on the NOS and converted it into an NVQ (QUL800) – Specialist Installation Occupations (Construction) – Loading Bay Equipment – Installation or Maintenance.
At that stage it was necessary to look at the detail of delivering the NVQ as a process, bearing in mind a number of issues. One was that candidates would be profiled against the NVQ so that the assessor could tell the employer what they need to be taught in order to cover people with different existing skill levels. Another was with regard to the transitional period between the NVQ being available and for it to be a requirement for people to access major contractor sites. This was important as, if there was just one assessor, or even 2 or 3, it would take a long time for everyone to be put through the process.
The process to make it achievable includes creating an approved centre to administer the qualification process, or working through an existing one. Our research found that creating our own ALEM Centre would be a very bureaucratic, costly and on-going process. We would then have had to find Assessors to put through a training course, following which they would be assigned candidates and an Internal Quality Advisor to oversee the assessment process and watch them working. Instead, we approached theNational Specialists Accredited Centre – NSAC, based in Thurmaston, Leicestershire, and they agreed to act as the Approved Centre for our NVQ, administering the candidate registrations, record keeping, checking the Assessors, referring successful candidates for the Awards, etc., without need for any input from ALEM.
So, in March 2016, we had our NVQ. It had been a long process but the decision to progress an NVQ was entirely justified with news that construction sites would be more rigorously enforcing the need for an appropriate CSCS card; that no new Green (labourer) cards would be issued once the current card had reached its expiry date; and that the White (CRO) cards would expire on 30 September 2017 – and are not renewable. Since 1st October 2015, CRO card holders had been expected to register for a nationally recognised construction related qualification before the card expires, with no CRO cards to be issued after 31st March 2017.
As such, also a timely ALEM process and achievement on behalf of our sector of the materials handling industry.
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