GQA Qualifications Blog

Monday 20 January 2014

When is a qualification in glass not a qualification in glass?

Q/ When is a qualification in glass not a qualification in glass?
Strange question?  It does appear so, so i'll reword it:
Q/ When is a qualification delivered in a glass occupation not an appropriate qualification for glass? Any better?
Qualifications are written for occupational roles.  They are written with people from the industry, by people who understand the industry and (normally) offered by the Awarding Body that wrote them and delivered by their centres with experience in the industry.
Q/  So what do industry get from this???
Qualifications that will benefit the people that achieve them, improving and recognising their skills and knowledge, and in turn improving their effectiveness within the business.
  • If you're an installer you want an installation qualification
  • If you're a surveyor you want to be assessed against criteria for surveying and achieve a qualification that says that you're a qualified surveyor
  • If you're a Fabricator then surely you want a qualification that says that you are a qualified Fabricator of Glass Supporting Systems? 
  • If you're a Flat Glass Manufacturer you want a qualification that says that?
It is a surprise then, (and a major concern), that there are people out there, like those manufacturing or processing glass, like fabricators, that have qualifications that say something else. There are qualifications out there that are general, catch-all qualifications that are meant to be delivered to those occupations that do not have a specifically written qualification for their role. 
These general, catch-all qualifications have a place in the market. Somewhere!  But not here!
The glass industry has had a specific Awarding Body since the very early 1990’s, working with industry to write standards and qualifications specific to what people are doing in our industry. From Glass Qualifications Authority as a part of Glass Training Limited through to the GQA of today – we have written these specific qualifications to recognise exactly what people are doing in the glass and related industries.
Do we as an industry want to lose our identity? Do employers want to become part of a general, catch-all workforce with the same qualification as an umbrella or beauty products manufacturer or a sandwich-maker? 

Maybe the general, catch-all qualification fits for people within those occupations, I don’t know, and this is written with no offence intended to people within those occupations, but does a general, catch-all qualification correctly recognise the skills of a Fabricator, or an IS Machine Operator,  or someone working within a major glass industry employer such as a Pilkington or a Network VEKA?
It is a kind of ‘make-up-you-own-mind’ scenario for industry, as many providers will sell you what they have regardless of whether it fits your processes and business needs or not.
The sales pitch will be great, there may well be full funding available, but does it really do what you want?
  • Does the assessor, or indeed the centre, understand your process?
  • Does the assessor know anything about flat glass manufacture, how to make containers or the manufacture of frames, sealed units and related products?
  • Can the generic, catch-all Assessor discuss technical issues and make a decision on the competence and knowledge of a Fabricator?
We at GQA continue to work with industry to develop, and offer though our centres, qualifications specific to the glass industry. Recent additions to the qualifications we have developed are Level 2 and 3 in Glass Distribution and Warehousing -  qualifications that have been favourably received by many parts of the Glass industry that have in the past used generic Warehousing qualifications. Handling glass and glass related products requires very different skills and knowledge to handling boxes of crisps or electrical components, and the Assessor’s occupational background should reflect this.
Any qualification that you see out there for the Fenestration and Glass and Glazing related industries has been written by GQA, with industry input, regardless of what acronym is in the title (there’s a whole other story to that one!).
So is it is possible to answer my original question?
Q/  When is a qualification in glass not a qualification in glass?
A/  When it's a catch-all qualification
Mick Clayton