Routes to success

BCIA President Graeme Rees believes the establishment of clearer pathways into the industry will be of huge benefit to the BEMS sector going forward.

The unpredictability of the last couple of years has seen many organisations with large commercial premises re-assess the way they manage their buildings and ask themselves whether they can do things better. With the UK’s Net Zero target now in place it really is a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ our buildings can be made more energy efficient. This will give firms involved in the manufacture and integration of building controls a real opportunity to get involved in more and more projects and we at the BCIA can provide guidance, support, advice and leadership. Even in the tough times during lockdown BCIA membership has continued to increase and large system integrators who previously were not members or who are elapsed members are joining which gives me reason to believe we are on the right track.

I have no doubt that the launch of the BCIA’s BEMS Controls Engineer Apprenticeship has triggered a renewed sense of interest in what we have to offer and the contribution the apprenticeship will make in answering the skills shortage could prove to be vital. The industry-wide shortage is proving to be a real challenge for manufacturers and systems integrators alike. However, more and more BCIA members are realising the value in providing a route into the industry through an apprenticeship, and the technical courses and on-the-job assessments provided by our training provider, Group Horizon, ensure apprentices are equipped with the skills and knowledge that match the needs of their employer.

It is a much clearer path than what was available when I was just starting out. As an electrician my first step was to join a small systems integrator as an installer, gradually learning more about the systems and equipment by installing and assisting those that came in later to engineer it and commission. By attending manufacturers’ courses I learned more of the engineering elements and, step by step, I progressed from there. This kind of route is still possible but, speaking from experience, it was a relatively slow process, it offered me no formally recognised education and was rather specific to one manufacturer’s system.

Young Engineers Network

Just as important as industry recruitment is industry retention and it is vital that once a new wave of aspiring engineers have entered the industry they are given the support and encouragement to help them on up the career ladder. Earlier this month the BCIA launched its Young Engineers Network at an event in London. The network has been designed to give the industry’s young engineers a forum for networking and support and it is hoped that individuals, work teams and employers will all benefit from the improved engagement, motivation and ownership of this initiative.

Going forward the BCIA anticipates that the Young Engineers Network will meet on a quarterly basis and will be expanded to accommodate those living and working in other areas of the country. We had 11 Young Engineer finalists at the BCIA Awards this year who all benefited from CIBSE affiliate membership in recognition of their success.