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Consultation offers prospect of quality installations

The latest update from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is a positive step towards securing a skilled workforce for environmental technologies.

Keith Marshall, Chief Executive of SummitSkills

That's according to SummitSkills, who is urging employers to respond to the consultation that begins next month.

On 5 April, MCS issued an update on the progress of its working group which has been reviewing the inclusion of competence criteria in its installation standards to be followed by companies working on microgeneration systems - solar photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal hot water, ground and air source heat pumps, combined heat and power (CHP), biomass boilers, wind turbines and small scale hydro.

The MCS working group has outlined recommendations that are aimed at making the requirements for MCS certification clearer. They will be published in a consultation document at the beginning of May.

SummitSkills, the sector skills council for building services engineering, has for some time been calling for a requirement on companies that are potential installers, before they can be MCS-certified, to prove that members of their workforce have the right skills. This should help to ensure that microgeneration installations are correctly designed, fitted and maintained in order for customers to secure the maximum benefits and for the UK to secure the greatest possible reduction in its carbon emissions.

Keith Marshall, Chief Executive of SummitSkills (pictured), said: “There is clearly great potential for businesses getting into the growing market for microgeneration technologies. This is why we are pleased that the May consultation reflects our concern that companies should be required to prove they have a competent workforce before they can be MCS-certified. Skilled operatives in our sector are already familiar with proving their skills and knowledge are up to scratch for their own industry-specific competent person schemes (CPS), which help to maintain the standard of work.

"SummitSkills has been working with the MCS on behalf of employers to help identify how these existing schemes’ competence requirements for individual workers can be used to minimise the administrative burden on companies, without compromising the quality of workmanship.

“I urge any organisations interested in starting or further developing their services in the area of microgeneration to contribute to the MCS consultation. Together we can establish the skilled workforce that the UK will need and protect consumers from rogue traders.”

The MCS will identify relevant training and assessment courses that have been mapped to National Occupational Standards (NOS) and so prove the appropriate level of competence.

There will also be a route for workers who do not necessarily have the formal qualifications required but whose specialist experience can be assessed and shown to meet the required level of skills.

It is being proposed that from August 2012 for new applications, and from August 2013 for existing MCS scheme members, only participation by members of its workforce in these identified training courses or assessments will be considered adequate proof of a company’s competence.

SummitSkills provides a mapping review service which enables those offering assessment and/or training courses to ensure that these map to National Occupational Standards, and so can be ratified by the competent person schemes.

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