GCS is an alternative certification provision that helps gas engineers remain consistently competent.
It has been nominated in both the Safety and Training Initiative categories at the Heating & Ventilation News Awards, which will take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 19 April 2018. Six days later, GCS will contend for the best Staff Training & Development initiative at the AGSM National Awards Dinner at the Hinckley Island Hotel in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
Aaron Services – heating, servicing and maintenance services provider – has reported improved engineer confidence and cost savings amongst the benefits of introducing its 200+ engineers to GCS.
Jon Posey, Aaron Services’ Commercial Director, said: “We are very pleased to have been shortlisted for three awards in these prestigious ceremonies. The Group Competence Scheme has played a major role in the optimising of the training of our engineers in delivering further improvements to the services we provide to our clients and customers. It is vital that in our safety-critical gas industry, we are constantly working to develop, invest and improve our workforce.”
GCS incorporates the same criteria as the better-known Accredited Certification Scheme and has 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. Through GCS, employees remain briefed on technical and legislative changes as and when they are introduced.
Aaron Services reports that its clients and customers receive “an increased quality of service” from its gas engineers, who have “an improved level of confidence and ability in themselves, due to the business being fully subscribed to the more robust process model that the GCS principles offer.” Other benefits the company reports from GCS include being able to address concerns over the competency more promptly, and being able to reinvest money that would have been spent on the ACS model into a tailored continuous development plan that focuses on each of their operative’s individual requirements.
Posey concluded: “We are grateful for the support from Energy & Utility Skills in helping us to mobilise GCS and we look forward to the benefits it will continue to offer to help us maintain high levels of competence and confidence within our engineers.”
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.* 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. The gas industry – alongside water, power and waste management – is facing a challenge to fill skilled roles. There is currently a shortage of several types of specialist gas engineers.
“GCS was developed over a 12-year period through close collaboration with gas industry experts,” said Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills.** “Competence is a priority for our sector so we applaud Aaron Services for adopting GCS and are pleased it is reporting improvements in performance. These outcomes embolden our mission to ensure employers across the power, waste management, water and gas industries have a safe, competent and resilient workforce, now and for the future.
“I extend congratulations also to Lucy Ritchie, my Solutions Manager, for her excellent work with our members and clients. Her knowledge, energy and enthusiasm are key factors in the growing popularity of GCS and other products we are developing here at Energy & Utility Skills. Her nomination is richly deserved and I wish her all the best on awards night.”
“I am naturally thrilled as well as surprised to have been nominated in the Women in Gas category,” added Ritchie. “It is nice to be recognised but the most important aspect in all of this is to put the spotlight back on the excellent provisions being made to train and develop our colleagues through products like GCS.”
GCS has also been implemented by British Gas: enabling over 2,000 of its engineers to demonstrate their competence and achieve Gas Safe registration, while earning Richard Harper, Technical Standards Manager at British Gas, an outstanding contribution award from IGEM in 2015.
* This was among the key findings of Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy, the first-ever coherent strategic plan for the continued delivery of essential energy and utility services to 65 million people every day across Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. The Skills Strategy was released in February 2017 and has since been recognised by 50 senior stakeholders and seen a number of its recommendations subsequently reflected in policy. Read more.
** Energy & Utility Skills is a provider of membership, assurance and skills solutions to help employers in the gas, power, waste management and water industries attract, develop and retain a sustainable skilled workforce. For more, visit www.euskills.co.uk
Pictured: Aaron Services’ Jon Posey (right) and Energy & Utility Skills’ Solutions Manager, Lucy Ritchie (second left) with Jon’s colleagues Dave Spicer and Faye Henderson