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INDUSTRY NEWS Contractors must satisfy client demand

In order to satisfy the demands of their customers and clients and so remain in business and in profit, contractors must be prepared to learn a great many new tricks, according to Bob Shelley, HVCA President for 2011/12. “Building engineering services contractors have reached not just one crossroads, but

several – and the choices they face in their business lives have never been so challenging, or so complex,” Mr Shelley told his audience at the annual general meeting of the Association. The drivers for such change were many and varied, he added. “I refer, of course, to the

continuing recession, to the ever more rigorous legislation with which contractors must comply, to the increasing demand for renewable technologies – and to the ongoing quest for sustainability across the built environment.

Different industry

“Today’s industry is dramatically different from the way it has been ten or even five years ago, and I have no doubt that, in another five or ten years’ time, it will be very different again. In the past decade, sustainability has come to pervade everything we are and everything we do” said Mr Shelley. “Whatever the climate change sceptics may want us to believe, the development of a low- carbon economy is with us for the long haul and represents the biggest commercial opportunity our sector has ever known. “The rewards are there for the taking – provided we have the skills, the competence, the

initiative and the will to reach out and grasp them.” The good news for HVCA members, though, was that they didn’t have to do it on their own.

“We have at our disposal the strength, the resources and the expertise of an organisation that has honed its services, expanded its footprint and built its influence over more than a century,” said Mr Shelley.

Add value

The HVCA existed to provide the advice, guidance, support and leadership its members required. He said: “I see it as one of the principal objectives of my term of office to ensure not only that it continues to fulfil these crucial roles, but that we add even more value by helping members and their businesses to grow, to develop and to progress.” In the excellence of its membership, the quality of its standards, the rigour of its entry criteria and the professionalism of its staff, the HVCA was simply unrivalled, the president went on. “We are already the premier organisation in our sector and I aim to do everything in my power to keep it that way.” The goal, he said, was to create an Association that was more effective than ever in

delivering services that genuinely meet the needs of its members and in representing their interests across the construction sector as a whole, and along the ‘corridors of power’ of Westminster and Whitehall”.

A new era for building services

The skills of building services engineering operatives are one of the cornerstones upon which a future transformed electricity market, as set out in the Government’s recent white paper, will be built, says SummitSkills.

‘Planning our electric future: a White

Paper for secure, affordable and low-carbon electricity’ outlines how the Government plans to ensure that the UK has a secure, cost-effective and decarbonised electricity supply in future. The document highlights that, due to age or inefficiency, in the next decade a quarter of the country’s electricity generating plant will be lost, leaving the UK more likely to experience blackouts and more reliant on less flexible (nuclear power) or intermittent (wind power) generation.

Focus on alternatives

With the white paper also emphasising the need to largely decarbonise power generation by the 2030s, at a time when both prices and demand for electricity are forecast to increase, the focus is on alternatives to current market arrangements

and specifically the contribution that consumers themselves can make. In 2012 the Government’s Green Deal initiative looks set to reduce the costs of energy efficiency measures and encourage the use of innovative technology to monitor and manage energy consumption. Chief Executive of SummitSkills, Keith Marshall OBE, said: “We are embarking on a new era for building services engineering. Our National Skills Academy will put operatives in touch with the training providers who will equip them to step up to the energy challenges identified in the Government’s white paper. “The new SummitSkills apprenticeship

frameworks for England, funded by the Skills Funding Agency, recognise the changes taking place. They will teach budding plumbers, electrotechnical, heating and ventilating and refrigeration and air conditioning engineers how to install and maintain, and work together on, some of the technology that the Government is counting on to reduce emissions. The Government is depending on our sector to help change the way the UK consumes energy.”

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