GQA Qualifications has teamed up with some of the construction industry’s heavy hitters to produce a podcast tackling the subject of competence in the supply chain. Called ‘Raising the Bar’, the podcast is the first of a planned series by the awarding and qualifications-writing organisation which aims to debate some of the key issues affecting the building industry today. Taking part in what proved to be a wide-ranging and lively exchange of views were staff from the tier one construction group, Wates; AluK, specialists in the design and testing of aluminium products for the fenestration industry; Century Facades, responsible for some of the country’s tallest glazed buildings; GQA’s Technical Officer and its Strategic Relationships Manager.

The latter, Dan Brown, explains why the topic of competence was selected by GQA for the first podcast:

“The subject of competence lies at the heart of so much of what is currently shaping the changes we’re witnessing in the construction industry. How do we define it, prove it and maintain it? Why is it so important? These are big questions. They’re being asked more and more in this post-Grenfell landscape at a time when the Building Safety Act is currently overhauling the regulation of construction products and the construction of higher-risk buildings in the UK.

“The podcast sheds light on what built environment professionals can do to address these questions and provides fascinating insights from both ends of the supply chain. I’d say this is required listening for sub-contractors, product manufacturers and installers. There is a facades bias to the podcast, but the general principles underpinning how to define competence, measure it and maintain it are valid for all areas of the building industry.”

Here are some of the conclusions drawn by speakers in the podcast:

* The key to preventing mis-selling, incorrect installation and shoddy site practice is to drive up competencies through accredited training and the achievement of qualifications.

* The most sensible way of proving competence is by means of independently accredited training that makes good use of end point assessment. Proof of attendance alone is not enough.

* With the Building Safety Regulator now having the power to prosecute not only a corporate body but also individuals identified as not meeting their responsibilities, contractors are going to be taking the ‘who are we safest with’ approach. This means that early adopters of accredited training for staff in order to prove competence will find it commercially useful because they will be at the front of the queue when it comes to handing out contracts. A knock-on effect of this will be that proving competence will take precedence over securing the lowest price.

* People at all levels should be willing to upskill and have their competence tested. Better informed people make better decisions.

* Accredited training must be fit for purpose, ie functional and not job title focused. If no qualification is in place in a particular area of the industry, then new accredited training can be tailored to suit it. This should be carried out annually in order to prove continued competence.

In addition to questions being posed to the podcast’s panel of experts by GQA, questions were also submitted by other construction industry members. The questions covered changing product specifications, why training is important in the construction industry, how the introduction of a Building Safety Regulator will affect competence, and how competence can be better engrained at the procurement stage.

To listen to the podcast go to Anyone wishing to provide feedback about the podcast can email