- A Lincolnshire firm has celebrated putting its first engineer through an alternative certification scheme that helps gas professionals remain consistently competent
- Training provision is key for the UK’s future productivity: there is a skills gap in the energy and utilities sector and it needs to fill over 221,000 vacancies by 2027
Aaron Services – heating, servicing and maintenance services provider – has celebrated putting its first engineer through the Group Competence Scheme (GCS), an alternative certification provision for gas engineers.
Dave Spicer, a gas engineer with the Boston-based firm, has worked in the gas industry for 16 years. He said: “I am proud to have gone through GCS. Gas engineers that go through will enjoy it and appreciate the chance to continually develop their skills to remain safe and competent.”
GCS incorporates the same criteria as the better-known Accredited Certification Scheme and been endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive. It gives Gas Safe-registered businesses an alternative route to re-assess employees, through continuous professional development rather than singular assessments every five years. This means businesses can schedule the appropriate briefings, training and assessments for all employees in line with their business needs. Through GCS, employees remain briefed on technical and legislative changes as and when they are introduced.
“GCS was developed over a 12-year period through close collaboration with gas industry experts,” said Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, the West Midlands-based expert voice on workforce issues in the sector across the UK.
“Our work is based on promoting increasing levels of safety and competence across the sector, and it is encouraging to see a firm like Aaron Services finding the GCS route robust, achievable and more efficient. We look forward to seeing more employers take this GCS route to making excellence the standard.”
Training provision is key for the UK’s future productivity: there is a skills gap in the energy and utilities sector and it needs to fill over 221,000 vacancies by 2027. Nearly half of these vacancies will be created by employees retiring.* The Office of National Statistics (2016) found that 19% of the 184,000 people working in gas across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are aged 55 or over.
Due to technological advances, the gas industry – alongside the water, electricity and waste sectors- is facing a challenge to fill skilled roles. There is currently a shortage of several types of specialist gas engineers.
The issue is being addressed by the sector, through initiatives like Talent Source Network, in which 20 leading sector employers are working together to encourage all communities, generations and genders to consider careers in energy and utilities.
Image : Aaron Services’ Dave Spicer with his colleagues (second right) Faye Henderson, Safety, Health, Environment & Quality Manager, Jon Posey, Commercial Director (right) and Energy & Utility Skills’ Solutions Manager, Lucy Ritchie.