by Phil Slinger – CAB Chief Executive
We have known for some time that we are experiencing a serious skills shortage in our Fenestration Industry which is due to a range of factors. We have an ageing workforce which means that the rate of workforce retirement will continue to increase in the coming years and with a poor pipeline of young people being attracted into the industry this is set to widen the gap even further. People who do choose to come into the Industry from other industries, possibly attracted by inflated salaries, simply do not have the experience but are placed within the workforce to quickly learn, usually the good and the bad!. Sadly, as salaries continue to rise to retain staff, there is little left in our competitive industry to factor in for training, or so it seems.
If you ask anyone in our Industry they will rate training as a priority in their business because, quite simply, the experienced fabricator and installer can help reduce errors and it can even realise savings on projects. So, given these savings, why are we not investing in training? I believe it comes down to companies evaluating risk and hoping that problems just do not arise. As an industry, we must become much more risk averse and invest in training to achieve not only an anticipated profit, but to offer high quality installations which in the longer term will lead to premiums on contracts.
The Council for Aluminium in Building have long recognised that as an association we need to support our members with up to date technical information and training which in turn enables a CAB member to raise their status in the industry when it comes to specifying and quoting for projects.
Partnering with GQA Qualifications, a leading award body, CAB has developed a simple route to attaining a Curtain Wall Installers CSCS Card. The initial one day CAB introductory course forms part of a mandatory module leading to the award of a newly created CAB Curtain Wall Installers CSCS Card. Since 2017, glass, glazing or fenestration CSCS cards are only available via GQA Qualifications. With the support of the GQA, there is now a route to attaining a CAB Curtain Wall Installers CSCS Card which any installer can work towards. Furthermore, the training material can also be used by CAB members as a valuable training tool to teach the fundamentals of curtain wall systems to staff and new employees in associated roles within members businesses.
Applications to attend the Introductory Course for the CSCS qualification are managed by CAB and candidates apply by completing the enrolment form which can be found on the CAB website. CAB will then liaise with candidates to book a convenient course date with training being carried out by a GQA Approved Training Provider. The cost to attend the one-day course is just £249 plus VAT, but CAB members will qualify for a discounted rate of £199 plus VAT. Training Centres will offer guidance to delegates to apply for a trainee CSCS card, temporary card or renewal card. Further information regarding the criteria and process for applying for a CAB Curtain Wall Installers CSCS card can be found on the GQA Qualifications website.
The aim of the CAB one-day Introductory Course is to offer candidates an introduction to the extensive glazed walling seen on building structures known generally as ‘Curtain Wall’. So, questions answered for the candidate new to the Industry are, what is a ‘Curtain Wall’, what is its function, what should it do and how should it be constructed? These are all questions explained by the Course in general terms. Common terminology used in describing the system and its functions are also introduced so that meaningful conversation and understanding can be made by candidates once the Course has been completed successfully. The Course has been designed to be a generic approach to curtain walling systems and covers the principles of construction that is common across all systems manufacturers.
For the more experienced curtain wall installer, the review of the fundamentals of the curtain wall terminology and construction are reintroduced along with the key issues of surveying, installation and fixing, interface details with other parts of the building structure are also covered to give the candidate a broad understanding of good practice. Expected levels of quality are introduced, as are potential areas of failure by way of example. The crucial implication of ‘getting it right first time’ is emphasised as remedial work required after completion can be both costly and difficult to achieve.
Once the One-Day Introductory Course has been successfully completed, the candidate will need to have achieved the relevant NVQ or Competency Update Qualification to be classed as fully trained and receive a ‘CSCS Skilled Workers Card’ candidates. Full guidance on the CSCS card process will be offered during the initial CAB One-Day Training Course.
Training is the key to overall quality, in turn, quality installations will place facade contractors onto preferred contractor lists, the greater choice of projects a facade contractor has to choose from offers both potential business growth and profitability. CAB calls for its members and the wider facade industry to take advantage of the scheme in 2022 to help close the skills gap. Full details of the training scheme is available on the CAB website.
The Association continually supports the fenestration, facade and building envelope products supply chain, with staff on hand at the CAB offices to answer any technical or market related questions. Information is regularly updated on the CAB website at www.c-a-b.org.uk. For Association Membership enquiries, or should you wish to attend the next members meeting as a guest of CAB, please contact Jessica Dean at the CAB offices by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01453 828851.