UK: The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) is supporting redundant workers by allowing them to apply for and renew SKILLcards free of charge.
Anyone who suffered redundancy as a result of the Covid-19 crisis since March 1 will have their fees waived if they apply between August 1 and October 31.
Engineering Services SKILLcard is one of the construction industry’s largest skills certification registers with more than 64,000 card holders across the UK. As a BESA group company, SKILLcard is the card and registration scheme for the mechanical sector of the building engineering services industry in the UK and is used by heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration specialists to provide proof of competence and qualifications.
Applicants must still hold the relevant qualifications and certificates, but if they can provide evidence of redundancy they will not be charged the £40 fee when completing their renewal or application process.
“We are acutely aware that many people in our sector are going through a torrid time,” said BESA director of certification Rachel Davidson. “Waiving SKILLcard fees may seem a relatively small gesture, but it represents a significant financial investment by BESA in the future of our people and our industry.
BESA says its gesture is in line with the government-backed Construction Talent Retention Scheme that is designed to help redundant workers find new positions within the industry and avoid a repeat of the last recession when more than 500,000 people left construction.
“Holding the relevant card is an essential part of finding work in our sector, enabling individuals to demonstrate relevant qualifications and experience so their skills can be re-deployed if they have lost their job,” said Ms Davidson.
“This is a short-term downturn that could have very serious long-term consequences if we allow skills to drain away from our industry. We already had a serious skills gap before Covid-19 and if we don’t act now we will struggle to find the people we need to deliver the vital building engineering projects required to support the economic recovery,” she added.
BESA is also launching its online Academy, which will make it easier for anyone working in building engineering services to access the training they need to refresh and update their skills.