GQA Qualifications Blog

Friday 29 April 2016

A thoroughly modern challenge

Mick Clayton CEO of GQA Qualifications who managed the 2016 Master Fitter Challenge at the FIT Show tells us that it was the toughest challenge yet but was entirely representative of current industry product trends.
It is fair to say that the 3rd Master Fitter Challenge was the toughest yet, but in my view it was also the best yet.  The products which the six finalists had to install - a Truedor Composite Door, a Liniar flush-sash window, and a Supalite tiled roof – are very much modern products, entirely representative of current industry product trends, and so it was great that they made up the ‘challenge’.
The Road to the final
To get to the final the installers had had to get through two earlier stages, the first stage was a telephone interview consisting of a number of technical questions, and the individuals hitting the required pass mark of 75% went through to the next stage.
This was a site visit by one of the GQA assessment team to observe their fitting skills and techniques which were recorded and photographed. The observation reports were checked and, with all names and identifying Company logos removed, an independent panel consisting of Chris Mayne (FENSA), John Ogilvie (Network Veka) and Paul Garforth (Liniar Windows), under the watchful eye of Sean Hayes and Mick Clayton from GQA, confirmed the six finalists who would compete live at Telford.
These 6 were Arron Clegg (Masterfitter Windows), Craig Hanson (Pennine Windows), Duane James (Job Worth Doing), Terry Jones (The Window Company), David Keates (DK Windows) and David Shaw (Shaw Home Improvements). The competition was coordinated by Sean Hayes from GQA, the assessment team and process were managed by Andy Carrington (GQA) and Dave Mechem (RISA), with Assessors, Gary Robertson (West Suffolk College), Lee Harland (IPS International), Simon Smith (PM Training) and Steve Hill (The Vocational College).
The final
This years’ competition was held in the atrium meaning that all visitors to the FIT Show had the opportunity to observe the challenge and see the finalists in action. For the finalists themselves it represented not only a technical challenge, but a challenge too to perform to their highest levels whilst being watched by crowds of industry peers and of course the challenge assessors.
It was a point not lost on MFC Assessment Team Manager Sean Hayes “I was very impressed by the way the competitors conducted themselves; although all Installers are watched by customers on a daily basis it must have been rather unusual to have hundreds of spectators, including some who had entered the competition but not made it to the final, watching their every move”.
On day one, David Shaw, Duane James and Terry Jones completed their challenge, with Arron Clegg, Craig Hanson and David Keates competing on day two. It is fair to say that all of the Installers were out of their comfort zone with the roof challenge, but all showed good skills and determination in installing an unfamiliar product in testing circumstances.
All of the Installers and their partners started with the roof, moving on to the window and door later in the day, with the fault finding task completed as the last part of the competition. The Assessors were working to a very detailed assessment scoring process; they worked well as a team with all candidates being observed by at least 2 different Assessors with Andy and Dave on hand to answer any queries and ensure a consistent approach to assessment. 
The assessment records were scrutinised and verified with the eventual results kept secret from all but those in a “need to know” position until Paul Godwin for FIT Show, announced the outcome at the spectacular Gala Dinner on the evening of day two.
So how were the winners decided?
Mick Clayton takes up the story once again - This was definitely a tougher final than in 2013 and 2014, there was some real skill and determination displayed by all, it didn’t matter what we threw at them they put everything into the task.
Selecting a winner is always difficult in a competition such as this where everyone puts that amount of effort in, that’s why we have an objective scoring system and a range of assessors so that it is not down to opinion; everyone, from finalists to assessors should be proud of themselves.
Who is the 2016 Master Fitter Challenge Winner
The winners were announced at the spectacular gala dinner on the evening of day two of the FIT Show, 3rd was Dave Keates from DK Windows, 2nd Arron Clegg from Master Fitter Windows, and the winner of the overall challenge was Craig Hanson of Pennine Windows. Craig also picked up the three individual sponsor’s awards by scoring highest in each of the individual installation tasks.
The prize money of £5,000, £3,000 and £2,000 for 1st 2nd and 3rd was very well received and Craig was also presented with a very handsome (and heavy!) Master Fitter Challenge winner trophy.

What the winner said
I cannot thank the FIT Show and GQA enough for giving me the biggest moment of my career. I could not have done it without the qualifications I have gained over the past few years.
It’s been an amazing year what with getting married, and then to compete in Telford and to win all the awards is just amazing.
I thought that the final this year was very competitive, we could really show our skills; it was hard work, as always, up against the best in the industry in front of all the people and the judges making it a day to remember.
It’s always an honour to represent our industry and I can’t wait until next year to come and compete again; I can’t wait to see what we will be doing then.
And so to 2017
This years’ competition will be fully reviewed taking in all the feedback received to ensure that the event is improved upon again for 2017 and that the fitting challenge represents the latest products in the industry once again.
Early indications are that there is already a healthy interest from installers wanting to take part and GQA is already taking expressions of interest.
For more information @GQAquals #BigGreenQ 0114 272 0033
What others involved said:
Dave Shaw of Shaw Home Improvement, Day 1 finalist, said “I would just like to say thank you to everyone involved in the Masterfitter challenge. It was a great experience for me and Nathan. You guys from the GQA did a brilliant job and the advice and guidance on the days leading up to and on the day of the competition”
 2nd placed Arron Clegg, of Master Fitter Windows said I was humbled to have made the final 6 this year, and even more so to finish in the top three. This was my 3rd MFC and I’ve managed to bag each of the 3 winning positions; I will never be the fastest and this competition certainly put the pressure on in terms of time. The GQA team must have found it difficult to manage the tight footprint we were all given and hats off to the assessors in managing that process alone. I thoroughly enjoyed it, focused on my change in career direction and know what position I need to aim for in the 2017 competition.
 Tim Warnock Senior Workplace Learning Co-ordinator from West Suffolk College said “Although the FIT show and the competition were hard work it really is an enjoyable few days with some cracking people”
Jo Taylor, Head of Construction from IPS International said “The layout of the installation pods was excellent this year and enabled people visiting to see ALL installations in one area”.
Katie Thornton from the Window Company, (Employer of Terry and Rob Jones) said “Terry and Rob are a tad disappointed but they are still very pleased to have been finalists’ full stop.  We are all very proud of them and they know that. I hope to be able to attend the event myself next year”
Dave Mechem of RISA said “Having been involved as part of the assessment team for the first time this year, I now appreciate the work that goes into the organisation and assessment of the whole thing”
Simon Smith of PM Training said “We put on a good, true and fair show which was challenging for Installers but that’s the idea”