Award winners in focus: Contribution to Training

Group Horizon picked up the BCIA Contribution to Training award for the second year running thanks to an apprenticeship scheme which is helping to address a nationwide shortage of BEMS controls engineers.

The Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) Controls Engineer Apprenticeship offers a balance of on-the-job assessments and technical training which covers all aspects of the industry.

The overall goal for Group Horizon was to address an urgent need to bring fully qualified BEMS Controls Engineers into the industry and overcome a skills shortage that has plagued the sector for a number of years. Twelve months after its launch it became clear that the new apprenticeship had struck a chord with the industry and was incredibly popular with learners. The apprenticeship was launched with the expectation for two cohorts of 20 learners in the initial 12 month period. One year on, seven cohorts had commenced training. Revised estimates proposed that three new cohorts would commence training every 12 months, however, based on recent figures, this number could be significantly higher. From August 2024, when cohort 1 reach the gateway and proceed through their end point assessment, there will be a steady stream of fully qualified BEMS Controls Engineers who will meet the needs of a rapidly changing industry for many years to come.

Smoother career progression

Group Horizon Director Peter Behan explained: “In delivering this apprenticeship, we are providing a course that has been developed for businesses by businesses, enabling learners to develop relevant and desirable skills that are valued by employers across the UK. The skills and qualifications achieved are often transferrable, allowing for smoother career progression and potential moves into different industry sectors. Once a cohort reaches capacity, Group Horizon will quickly start work on filling the next cohort in order to ensure there is a steady stream of learners coming through.”

The response from apprentices has been very positive. Jake Jarram, an apprentice with Building Control Specialists (BCS), commented: “I have been very impressed with how well structured the modules are in the course I am completing. The lecturer is very experienced and skilled in the industry, showing a very positive outlook on HVAC and is very keen to pass on their knowledge. When working day to day for BCS I have developed a great variety of skills which are invaluable to someone of my age. I am looking forward to my future in the building controls industry.”

Feedback from cohorts on the Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) Controls Engineer Apprenticeship is being collected to continuously review delivery methods/locations. This is also being used to ensure equal engagement and assess the continued effectiveness of remote live lectures so that these can be amended/enhanced if and when required.

BCIA President Graeme Rees chaired the judging panel and commented: “Group Horizon’s ability to upscale and still deliver quality, and closely address the industry’s needs has been particularly impressive. New talent and more resources are high priorities for BCIA members and Group Horizon is serving those needs incredibly. The feedback from course delegates has also been excellent and the BEMS Apprenticeship has really thrived since it was launched in 2021.”

After winning for the second consecutive year, Peter Behan said: ““We are thrilled to have picked up this award for the second year running. The BEMS Controls Engineer Apprenticeship programme continues to go from strength to strength and Group Horizon are proud to be able to deliver technical training to the next generation of learners.”