An Hour to Skill – new resources developed by leading businesses to support personal development

An Hour to Skill – new resources developed by leading businesses to support personal development

The Department for Education has launched ‘An Hour to Skill’ campaign which aims to encourage employers and the nation to set aside just one hour a week for online learning by taking a free course from The Skills Toolkit.

Although this is primarily focused on encouraging people to develop for their next step in career progression, employers may wish to take advantage by using these free courses to train existing employees.  Statistics show 94% of employees stay at a company longer if there is investment in their individual career development.  At the time of writing there are nearly 90 courses available.

These high-quality, online courses aim to enhance individuals’ job prospects, giving them easy access to skills that could unlock job opportunities in a competitive market, or help them get ahead in their current role. The Skills Toolkit features more than 70 courses designed by some of the nation’s leading businesses and educational institutions including Amazon Web Services, Cisco, FutureLearn, Lloyds Bank, LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft, The Open University and many more.

Learn about:

  • practical maths
  • computer essentials
  • personal growth and wellbeing
  • professional development
  • business and finance
  • digital design and marketing
  • computer science and coding

The courses form part of the government’s Plan for Jobs, which aims to help boost the UK economy as it recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

FIS has created a dedicated resource to help companies within our sector source training. As well as our active network of Approved Training Providers, through the FIS you can access a range of Continual Professional Development (CPD) and eTraining to support development of people and demonstration of competence.

Visit The Skills Toolkit here


FIS launches new career and competency pathways to support drylining and ceiling fixers

FIS launches new career and competency pathways to support drylining and ceiling fixers

FIS has launched two new Career and Competency Pathway documents for drylining and ceiling fixing occupations. With a focus on quality and safety within the sector, the pathways show how individuals can show proof of competence by the achievement of training and qualifications.

Through the FIS Skills Board and support for the ongoing competence work as part of the Grenfell Industry Response Group activities, FIS has a renewed focus on developing the principles outlined in the FIS Competency Framework (SAKE) which measures competency through a combination of skills, attitude, knowledge, experience.

The new career and competency pathways map the qualifications and training available against the critical stages of a career in drylining and ceiling fixing occupations.  It provides a spine of information to help individuals and organisations to understand which steps to take and whether an individual is ready to progress through a better defined “gateway” to the next stage of their career. The pathway is aligning trained and assessed outcomes that support progression within the occupation, through to supervisory and management roles.

Commenting on the launch of the pathway, FIS Skills Board Chair, Paul Leach of Stortford Interiors said: “The aim of this work is to provide a better-defined pathway built around clear job roles and the stages within a career in key occupations within our sector.  It will remain fluid and we can adapt it as new competency standards, qualifications and guidance emerges, but we felt it important to make a start to both support companies in managing competencies and help to present careers within the sector.  The publishing of these pathways is a vital and clear rally call to the sector as we seek to improve competence within the workforce and address any skills shortages.”

FIS Skills and Training Lead, George Swann added: “Many are already well on this journey and undoubtedly there will be subtle differences within individual companies. But, by providing this standard pathway we can help all contractors and employers to understand what good looks like, benchmark where they are at and hopefully support a better culture of training and development through the sector.  We often talk about skills and competency and default to a conversation about card colour, but a genuine focus on competency is much more than this and involves ongoing learning as well as effective supervision and management and providing support and encouragement for individuals.  Having an organisational training plan supports social value requirements which are now prominent in contracts.”

The pathways are designed to be adapted by individual companies in-line with roles within organisations.  FIS is working to provide more detailed standardised job descriptions to further support a consistent approach to career management within the industry, and developing pathways to cover all the core occupational areas associated with the Finishes and Interiors sector.

You can download the Career and Competency Pathway documents for Drylining and Ceiling Fixing occupations here

For further information or for any questions and comments please contact the FIS by email at or call 0121 707 0077.

FIS Updates Guide to Taking on an Apprentice

FIS Updates Guide to Taking on an Apprentice

In light of latest changes and new support through the Government’s Plan for Jobs, FIS has updated the FIS Guide to Taking on an Apprentice.  This simple guide is designed to support businesses in taking that vital first step in taking on an apprentice.  It sets out to introduce companies to the raft of support that is available to them and to understand what their options are.

FIS Skills and Training Lead commented “Taking on an apprentice will ensure the succession of the current workforce.  This FIS guide is designed to help and support employers through the apprenticeship process, but the main message is that FIS are here to help at every stage.  With new restrictions on immigration and tightening in requirements to demonstrate competence in construction, it is more than ever vital that businesses in the finishes and interiors sector look to apprenticeships and traineeships to attack any emerging shortage of skilled workers.

There are encouraging signs with additional financial support from Government, growing interest from training providers in the new Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship in England and activities like BuildBack and KickStart coming on stream to support recruitment and new entrant development.  But all of this will be in vain if companies and employers don’t rise to this challenge and invest in the home population.”

The guide is free to download from the FIS website here
More information on the CITB backed FIS BuildBack programme
More information on the Government backed FIS Kickstart programme
For all information on FIS Skills Support click here


New competency standard – have your say

New competency standard – have your say

We would like to hear your comments on a new competency standard that will be published this spring.

Government through the Ministry of Housing Community and local Government (MHCLG) have commissioned the production of a new competency standard (BSI Flex 8670 Built environment – overarching framework for building safety competence of individuals – specification).

This new standard will be used to produce specific standards for new roles listed in the Building Safety Bill and will form an overarching standard that will allow organisations such as FIS to produce competency standards for operatives in our sector. We see this as an opportunity to ensure that operatives installing safety critical products can measure their own competency, be recognised for their competency and have training available to progress their careers.

This BSI Flex is intended to achieve four overarching objectives:

  • Set core requirements for behavioural and building safety competence for all persons working in the built environment in order to improve industry culture and safety outcomes throughout the building life cycle.
  • Drive adoption of consistent good practice in the development and use of competence assessment frameworks across the built environment.
  • Enable consistent and objective evaluation of different sector-specific competence frameworks against common criteria by regulators, clients and employers.
  • Support development of suitable mechanisms to provide robust assessment of individual competence.

The draft standard can be downloaded here.

Please send your questions and any comments to no later than midday on Thursday 28 January 2021 to be included within the FIS response.

 Mapping out the road to competency and compliance

 Mapping out the road to competency and compliance

Joe Cilia Technical Director FIS

Joe Cilia Technical Director FIS

Dame Judith Hackett was clear in her interim report of Building Regulations and Fire Safety that there has been a lack of evidence of compliance and competency and even clearer that the industry needed to address this. So, what has happened since February 2018 and do we have a clear roadmap?

A complex problem has been broken up into its constituent parts and addressed by over a hundred organisations, including FIS dedicating cumulative thousands of hours to interrogate information and advice and propose on a better way of working.   With work led by the Industry Response Group (IRG) and the Technical Expert Panel (TEP), the work of these groups and the draft Building safety Bill and Fire Safety Bill, are all coalescing to provide a clear direction of travel addressing the linked issues of Competency and Compliance.

To help structure our efforts and uncover how a number of new initiatives will lead to tangible changes to the way we market performance products, the words we use to describe them and the Skill, Attitude Knowledge and Experience needed to specify, purchase, supervise, install and maintain them; we have pulled together this new Map that starts to identify the initiatives are linked and give us an idea of where this will lead in the next year.

It’s about competency…

A Competency Steering Group was established to oversee the issue and twelve working groups were established to address the issue across the supply chain with one overarching group to coordinate the results and a Market Integrity Group (MIG) who would look specifically at how performance products were described and the performance verified.

The twelve working groups are:

  • Overarching Competence Body (WG0)
  • Engineers (WG1)
  • Installers (WG2)
  • Fire engineers (WG3)
  • Fire risk assessors (WG4)
  • Fire safety enforcing officers (WG5)
  • Building standards professionals (WG6)
  • Building designers, including architects (WG7)
  • Building safety managers (WG8)
  • Site supervisors (WG9)
  • Project managers (WG10)
  • Procurement professionals (WG11)
  • Products competence (WG12)

The first output from the group is a document called Raising the Bar which was presented at a conference in October 2019 HERE

The report represents twelve months’ work by more than 150 organisations from across the construction, built environment, fire safety and owner/manager sectors, which have come together to improve the competence of those procuring, designing, constructing, inspecting, assessing, managing, and maintaining Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs).  The work is in response to recommendations in the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt.

Setting the Bar is the second and final report of the Competency Steering Group (CSG) and is an update of the Interim Report, Raising the Bar, published in August 2019.

Feeding into this report, for example, is the work I’ve been involved in from WG12 on Products Competence is the development of a Construction products Matrix, which will help manufacturers define the level of expected competence to specify, procure, supervise and install their products. Based on Skill, Knowledge and Experience it will help ensure the correct products are used alongside all products they interact with to create building systems.

The Built Environment competency standard group (BECS) The industry-led programme sponsored by MHCLG will deliver an overarching competence framework standard for everyone working on a building. This is intended to be used by key professions and trades including designers, contractors, fire risk assessors, building managers and others in specialist technical or corporate roles. The framework will provide a set of core principles of competence, including leading and managing safety, communicating safety, delivering safety, risk management, regulations & processes, building systems, ethics, and fire/life safety. The competence framework is being developed using an iterative and dynamic process, in line with our new flexible route to standardization, called BSI Flex.

BSI Flex 8670 v1.0 Built environment – Overarching framework for competence of individuals – Specification is designed to provide a framework for the development of three new PAS documents to describe the competency levels for the three new positions described in the (Draft) Building Safety Bill:

  • Building Safety Manager
  • Principle Designer
  • Principle Contractor

The competency of these people will be overseen by the new Building Safety Regulator (HSE).  There will also be an overarching publicly available Specification (PAS) that can be used by industry and trade bodies to develop competency schemes in a consistent way specific to their sector.

Building a safer future Charter In April 2020, the UK Government encouraged industry-wide commitment to sign-up to the Charter, in its response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation ‘A reformed building safety regulatory system’.   In early 2020, the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) was appointed to develop and manage the Charter and FIS is proud to be amongst the first signatories.

It’s about compliance…

Looking beyond competency to other elements of compliance, another new group formed is the Construction Products Standards Committee.  This Committee will be comprised of technical experts and academics and it will advise the Secretary of State for Housing on whether voluntary industry standards for construction products should also become UK regulatory standards, a role currently undertaken by the European Commission. The Construction Products Standards Committee will also provide advice and recommendations on the conformity assessment process and product test standards. In particular the Construction Products Standards Committee will advise on:

  • the assumptions and weaknesses within the current testing regime, including the effectiveness and accuracy of current tests;
  • ways to improve the testing regime and new tests to address the weaknesses; and
  • innovation in how construction products are tested.

Organisations, such as FIS will be feeding into this group (via the Construction Products Association), helping to deliver a new rigorous and proportionate process for proving compliance.

Alongside this work the Market Integrity Group (MIG) published their initial findings ahead of developing a Code for Construction Product Information (CCIP).  The CCIP will provide a code for all construction product manufacturers (including distributors) to ensure that consistent terminology  is used and performance claims are evidence based and have been signed off by the competent technical person in the organisation.

A new body (also formed under the auspices of the CCS) will provide a verification scheme for suppliers wishing to sign up to the code.   Its clear that we are reaching a stage where the wind of change is coming and the framework for measuring competence and compliance is being constructed using new overarching legislation that will be built on rapidly over the next months and years.

It’s about collaboration…

In this Map I have attempted to show how these committees, working groups, legislative changes standards, documents, reports and bodies come together and how they will start to lead to a more compliant built environment in the months and years ahead.  An encouraging start has been the spirit of collaboration across the sector, bringing us into contact with new individuals, organisation and perspectives on some age-old problems.

I am sure this map will evolve, but as the structures start to settle and the next stage of this huge change begins, if you see anything missing or want to discuss how it all fits together, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

You can download a copy of the Competence and Compliance landscape map here

 About Joe

Joe is the Technical Director at FIS which represents the Finishes and Interior Sector, he is responsible for Standards guides and legislation, environmental and sustainability issues.  Joe works closely with BSI where he chairs a mirror group and a major review of the drylining standard.

He Co-Chaired the production of Fire-stopping of service penetrations – best practice in design and installation and has been pivotal in developing the FIS Product Process People (PPP) Quality Management Framework.

Joe is the immediate past Chair of the Construction products Association Technical committee and represents the finishes and interior sector on the CPA Technical panel as part of the MHCLG Industry Response Group to the Grenfell inquiry alongside Build UK and CIC.

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