The Fire and Security Association (FSA) is calling on the new Conservative Government to engage with the organisation on three key issues affecting fire and security companies: prompt payment, boosting technical skills and cost-effective business licensing.
With regard to payment, the FSA is looking for effective legislation to ensure prompt and fair payment. “We’re encouraged that the previous administration recognised smaller businesses do need support on fair payment if they are to be successful in a growing economy,” explained Pat Allen, chairman of the FSA.
“We note the Government’s legislation on prompt payment in the public sector supply chain issued earlier this year, but this still needs fine tuning by the new political administration if it’s to really help fire and security companies.”
Allen continued: “We also urge the Government to act promptly if current voluntary payment codes do not stimulate a widespread and positive step change in supply chain payment. If the voluntary route fails, we ask the Government to be ready with fair payment legislation right across the commercial and public sectors.”
In addition, Allen has boldly called for a period of consolidation and stability when it comes to training policy.
“Under the previous Government, skills provision in much of the UK was subject to a number of proposals for change. This applied particularly to the funding of apprenticeships which, after intense consultation with electrical and specialist contractors, appeared to be heading for a pragmatic and workable solution. We hope that the new administration continues to build on this progress when considering its current policy agenda. The proposed ‘one size fits all’ approach to technical apprenticeships simply will not work. Government needs to both protect and support sectors such as ours that rely on skilled technical apprenticeships and continual education.”
In conclusion, Allen commented on business licensing. “We would like to work with Government to ensure that Alarm Receiving Centres are not saddled with unnecessary business licensing costs,” he urged. “We made some very good progress on this with the previous administration, and we shall continue to lobby for a cost-effective approach as to how contractors can show they meet modern requirements in the security sector, notably through existing UKAS certification.”
As a Trade Association, the FSA is dedicated to companies who design, install, commission, maintain and monitor electronic fire, emergency and security systems. As a specialist group of the Electrical Contractors’ Association and working in partnership with SELECT, the Scottish electrotechnical Trade Association, the FSA is uniquely positioned to improve industry standards and both enhance and develop members’ businesses.
Industry input on apprenticeship development
Referencing the apprenticeship subject, last month Pat Allen called on fire, emergency and security systems contractors to help develop a “clear and cohesive industry perspective” on the new apprenticeship standard for the sector.
Work on the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Apprenticeship Standard is currently in development and a consultation process on the draft plans took place in April.
Employers across the industry were asked to air their views on areas such as the skills and knowledge requirements for apprentices, length of training and the level at which apprenticeships are pitched.
Allen – a director of the Abel Alarm Company – is the lead employer on the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Trailblazer Group and a long-standing supporter of industry skills and training.
At the launch of the consultation period, Allen duly stressed the importance of taking part. “This Trailblazer Programme provides a unique opportunity for employers of our specialist sector to develop our own apprenticeships and train our apprentices with the skills our industry needs. To do this, we need to hear from as many employers as possible so we can develop a clear and cohesive industry perspective on what we want our apprenticeships to look like.”
The project is part of the Government’s ‘Trailblazer’ initiative, which focuses on employer-designed apprenticeship standards to ensure apprentices’ training and assessment directly meets industry and business needs. Once launched, the new standard will replace the current industry apprenticeship framework.
The standard is designed to be a short, easy-to-understand document that describes the full level of skill, knowledge and competency required.
A Trailblazer Employer Group comprising 13 fire and/or security companies has developed the draft standard. The group, led by Pat Allen as chairman, comprises the Abel Alarm Company, Chubb Fire & Security, Christie Intruder Alarms, AAI Security, CSL DualCom, Kings Security Systems, Secom, Wessex Fire and Security, Banham, BDS Fire, Pointer, Stanley Security Solutions and Amalgamated.
The project is supported by a wider Stakeholder Group comprising BAFE, Chichester College, Electrical Assessment Services UK, the Fire Industry Association, the Fire Protection Association, the Fire and Security Association, Gloucester College, JTL, Mercury Training Services, the Security Industry Training Association, Skills for Security, Spiral Training, Swansea Council and Tavcom Training.
Once all feedback has been collated a final version of the standard will then be submitted to Government in June before work starts on the apprenticeship assessment plan.
Once approved, the new apprenticeships should be delivered from 2016 onwards.