GQA Qualifications celebrates twenty years of trading in January 2022. A part of the activities to mark the event is a series of interviews with the directors of the organisation. Here we talk to John Ogilvie, one of GQA’s five Non-Executive Directors and an Ambassador for Building Our Skills – Making Fenestration a Career of Choice. He has been involved with GQA for four years.
What does being a Director of GQA mean to you?
It’s a real privilege to be part of the GQA ‘family’ where I’m able to use the experience I’ve built up over the past 30 years and complement that of the other directors to give something back. It’s gratifying to be involved with helping to make the industry attractive to potential new entrants and to help people to advance their skills in order to develop their career.
What do you think are the strengths of GQA?
I think it’s marvellous that GQA provides qualifications for such a broad range of roles in the fenestration industry without being material biased. This impartial approach is one of its strengths, for sure. In addition, the organisation is flexible enough to be able to offer qualifications that are relevant because they meet the ever-changing demands of the industry.
What does your experience bring to the table?
I’ve worked with systems companies in marketing and sales roles, and latterly I ran a trade association dealing with all aspects of the supply chain. A key part of the latter was the training the association offered. Having been closely involved in that, and developing and running a competent persons scheme, my role with GQA feels like a natural progression and a good fit.
I really appreciate the value of a qualification in order to prove competence – it’s a great thing to achieve and boosts the learner’s confidence. And of course, for employers, having formally assessed staff is a great way to differentiate your company from your competition.
What changes have you seen in GQA over the past twenty years you’d like to highlight?
I’ve been involved with GQA for four years, so I only really feel properly qualified to comment on that period. I’m very pleased to have witnessed the range of qualifications offered by GQA expand considerably in that time. GQA is the only body offering the CSCS card in the fenestration industry, and it’s been wonderful to see the uptake in this accelerate.
I would also highlight GQA’s moves into other sectors such as printing, the nuclear industry, scouting and general construction. The exacting standards of, for example, the nuclear industry are testimony to GQA’s high quality offering. In addition, it’s great to see the additional training centres around the country with whom GQA is now aligned. Each one is rigorously vetted to ensure it meets GQA’s high standards.
How important do you feel qualifications and training are?
Extremely important. The fenestration industry is a fantastic one in which to work. But, approximately 25% of its employees are set to retire over the next 10 years. This means the existing skills shortage could become even more acute. We need to attract new blood into the industry and demonstrate career paths that are underpinned by qualifications.
Also, we need to be able to assist people who are considering a change of career and need qualifications to get started.
For employers, it’s crucial that they are able to retain staff, and one means of facilitating this is by investing in their skills and training.
This is why the practical training offered by Building Our Skills is so important and why I’m an Ambassador of this not-for-profit organisation.
We’re a great industry, and we’ve just got to prove to people – especially young people – that this is an attractive place to work. The industry has moved on considerably, and today – as proved by GQA’s recent survey – parents are more likely to recommend it as an option for their offspring than they used to. With attitudes changing, it is no longer the case that parents are automatically pushing their offspring down the university route.
These days, they are placing far more value than ever before on vocational training, which has got to be a good thing for the industry. We just need to keep hammering home the message that the fenestration industry offers a whole plethora of roles, and it’s not just all about selling windows and doors.
Where do you see GQA heading in the future?
I think we need to continue to listen carefully to industry employers and engage with them in order to ensure that we carry on offering qualifications that are relevant and in keeping with industry developments.
Part of this picture will be to keep a close eye on legislation, building regulations and industry trends. An illustrative example of this point would be that as the influence of automation and I.T. grows apace, we might need to offer new qualifications to support them. As new roles and job types take shape we must make sure they are in our ‘basket’ of qualifications.
In addition, we need to continue to focus on our core activities and promote the importance of training and qualifications generally.
More information on GQA is available at www.gqaqualifications.com.