GQA Qualifications Blog

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Minimum Technical Competency – For The Greater Good Of The Industry

GQA recently asked for the thoughts of prominent industry internet voice, Double Glazing Blogger, for his thoughts on the newly approved Minimum Technical Competencies. Here are his thoughts:

Minimum Technical Competency, for those that don't know, is a new set of requirements that the DCLG have introduced in an attempt to improve both the installations facet of our industry as well as surveying. I'll refer to these from now on as MTC's as it's a bit much to write!

There has long been talk within our industry at the lack of quality installers. In fact it has been one of our biggest frustrations and its what has contributed to the negative perception our industry has created for itself with the general public. But the MTC's that have been introduced have come as part of the overall Competent Persons Scheme with the aim to teach new window and door installers to do the best and correct job from the outset. As well as new installers, experienced installers will also be required to meet the new requirements.

This is something we did ourselves as a company. We're not a huge business by any stretch of the imagination, but we are lucky enough to have installers who are already qualified joiners and take a great deal of pride and time in their work. When we were made aware of these impending changes and MTC's, we were highly motivated to make sure our own fitters benefited from the new requirements and achieve a qualification to meet the MTCs. Time for a bit of detail...

The NVQ for installation comes in level 2 and level 3 qualifications and is very thorough. It requires the fitter to know more than just how to fit a window and door properly. For installers to achieve the qualification, they have to know how to adopt a safe system of work and know their own responsibilities on site. They also have to know the relevant building regulations that apply to that job, something which most only see sales people and surveyors needing to know. It does cover the simple stuff like knowing how much of a material that particular job requires, how to prep a window or door for installation, accurately check the window is the correct size for the opening, know which type of sealant is best for that job, know how to repair and maintain a window and door and so on. This is probably the most detailed standard for installation I have come across. The NVQ qualification for surveying is equally as detailed. Both qualifications were developed by GQA Qualifications Ltd who are the specialist body for window and door qualifications and they are the body that issues the certificates for fitters once they have passed. Specifically for surveying, to obtain an NVQ Level 3, a surveyor must understand fully how the relevant buildings regulations apply to that particular job, know what type of window and door is suitable for that job, keep a correct record of the right information needed for that job, know what – if any – additional products are required for that job and spot any potential problems with the job that has been sold.

All those points above may seem simple and straightforward, but these MTC's exist because there is a significant proportion of installers and surveyors that don't follow that information above, hence problems further down the chain. As a company, we were keen to be able to say to potential customers that our installations staff  were qualified to the highest possible standard. Peace of mind is a valuable commodity in this sector, and that is something we wanted to give to our clients.

Our own experience was through the qualifications delivered by The Fenestration College, who are approved by GQA and speaking from the perspective of the company, we found the process with our staff pretty much straightforward. Inspections on site were planned well in advance so that our fitting schedules weren't negatively affected. Our fitters weren't made to feel under pressure. The staff we dealt with were great and we were very proud to give our fitters their certificates once they passed and I think they were quite pleased with themselves too!

Speaking from a personal vantage, I knew that there were other ways for our fitters to meet the MTCs,however, when I considered that working with The Fenestration College would meet the MTCs and give our fitters nationally recognised qualifications, I chose the GQA route . Given how easy the process was and the high quality of the qualifications themselves, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending them to others who are looking at how to meet the MTCs.

There is also the wider picture to consider here. Minimum Technical Competency schemes are now a requirement for members of the Competent Person Schemes. The fenestration sector has been highly unregulated in some areas and quite frankly I'm shocked at how long it has taken to bring out a Government backed scheme and now we have the MTC's for our current and new fitters. At some point, every fitter and every surveyor, new and existing is going to have to qualify in their field of work. Yes it may require some of your sterling and time to do so. But put your stereotypical money thoughts aside and consider the wider implications for the industry. If our sector in a few years-time can go to the consumer and proudly say that every fitter is qualified to fit their new windows and doors to a level 2 and 3 standard, then surely that can only do good things for our image?

I have written previously on my blog about such schemes and the feedback left by commenters has generally been positive. I really do hope that MTC's and GQA's qualifications (NVQs) are embraced by our industry before they become a standard regulation.

Double Glazing Blogger can be found at