Train to win

With the BCIA Awards entry deadline looming, Terry Sharp underlines the importance of industry training.

It is roughly a year since we first heard the murmurings about a new virus in China. There was no talk of lockdown, online meetings or essential travel. How things can spiral quickly! Just two months later and life in the UK and the wider world changed drastically, affecting industry, businesses and education. The BCIA’s own Training Centre in Peterborough had to close its doors. Fortunately, we were able to move all of our courses online very quickly, which allowed our aspiring engineers to continue with their development. However, as brilliant and vital the Internet continues to be in helping us through this pandemic in many ways, online learning is not the same as sitting in a room with classmates, whether it’s at primary school or college. I am sure teachers and students alike will agree.

As well as our training courses, the BCIA Awards were also moved online for the first time. This year we remain hopeful of the real thing taking place in September, with 26th February set as the closing date for nominations. Nine categories are open for entry, including the ‘Contribution to Training Award’, which recognises an individual, company or organisation that has contributed to training on the installation, design and/or use of building controls and BEMS. This particular category is one of my favourites as it really showcases the passion and commitment running through our industry that will ensure the engineers of tomorrow are ready to take up the torch.

In addition to the many exceptional training companies, I should also give a mention to the BEMS companies that carry out their own in-house training and are therefore also eligible for entry to the Contribution to Training Award. In-house training can provide huge benefits for both the trainer and the trainee. By shadowing their seniors, apprentices not only learn practical skills first-hand, they can also develop important relationships with their colleagues and clients. The learning doesn’t have to be all one way either. With the advancements in technology our school leavers have grown up with, they are already well adapted to take advantage of the myriad innovations going into buildings to help them run more efficiently in the 21st century. In some cases they may have a better understanding of some of the technology than some of their older colleagues. But a mix of youth and experience can go a long way in moving a company forward, as the years of working knowledge matched with fresh ideas and a will to learn complement each other extremely well.

2021 is to be the BCIA’s ‘Year of Training’, and the value of good training, whether it is online, in a training centre or on the job, should not be understated. Successful training pathways should be celebrated and held up as examples for others to be inspired by. So why not gain the recognition your company deserves for any kind of training you deliver by entering the Contribution to Training Award category this year? ‘Award winning company’ does have a nice ring to it – doesn’t it?