Dr Zzeus Q&A: how do we know when a qualification meets the government-approved standards?

Dr Zzeus Q&A: how do we know when a qualification meets the government-approved standards?

In this regular column, ‘Dr Zzeus’ Tom Brookes, MD of Zzeus Training and chairman of the FSA, will answer your questions related to fire safety compliance.

Q. I’m a sub-contractor and like to keep up-to-date with my qualifications and requirements. However, I’m getting confused with all the claims by training providers stating they have a Level 3 qualification. When I look into it, it’s not an official qualification, but more CPD. Post-Grenfell, we all saw the ‘Setting the Bar’ government report recommending Level 2 or 3 qualifications for individuals for installers. What’s available, and how can we check if it really is a government-approved qualification?

You’ve picked a subject that drives me mad most days; only yesterday, a manufacturer put a comment on a post on LinkedIn where an individual was asking for a BS 5839-6 Qualification. The response he received was along the lines of: “Why don’t you do our qualification? We let you undertake the first few modules free of charge.” Big and bold was their company’s claim to a ‘City & Guilds Assured Qualification.’ To the non-educational specialist, it sounds like it fits the question.

What does ‘City & Guilds Assured’ actually mean, and what is the ‘Assured Benchmark’?

The Assured Benchmark is a quality assurance framework which evaluates eight areas of programme design and delivery, called the Benchmark Standards, to confirm that an organisation has met the global quality standard set by City & Guilds and ILM.

So, is that an official City & Guilds government-recognised qualification?

No, it is that particular manufacturer’s own qualification, however the training is approved to a certain standard by City & Guilds.

Is that being a bit picky?

Although the standard of training may be excellent, it is not on the government ‘Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations’ register as an official qualification. All City & Guilds official qualifications have the Ofqual logo.

You can check every official qualification using the following web link: https://register.ofqual.gov.uk/. If the one you’ve been recommended is not on this register, employers and companies may not accept it as a qualification. For example, the ECS card scheme will only accept official qualifications on the OFQUAL or SQA (Scottish Official Qualifications).

Is the manufacturer’s qualification useless?

Not at all. It is good proof of ongoing CPD that all installers should undertake, as recommended post-Grenfell.

How do you check if you’re getting an official qualification?

Either ask the question directly: “Is this qualification on the Ofqual Register” or you can check the company in question on the Ofqual register?

If you look at the government’s ‘Setting the Bar’ report, it asks for quite a few requirements and qualifications (one of them is highlighted here); so it is becoming more critical for individuals to have official qualifications and CPD.


243. Recommendation: The industry should adopt a framework for all the installer sectors working on in-scope buildings that can be applied to other project types. The framework will consist of:

– Accredited third-party certification of companies

– Level 2 or 3 qualifications for individuals

– A card scheme such as, but not limited to, the CSCS

– CPD refresher training and the maintenance of individual skills

– All installers have a core knowledge of fire safety in buildings – training to be standardised and made mandatory.

Ofqual has tightened its application process to stop just anyone from getting approval; an awarding body has to prove many things, including quality and financial stability. For a qualification to be officially recognised in England and Wales, it will have the Ofqual logo, and in Scotland, it will have the SQA logo.

All Zzeus Training qualifications are by the awarding body EAL and are fully Ofqual registered. As part of this you get a Zzeus CPD certificates plus an official Ofqual-approved qualification certificate, which is accepted for the Fire Operative ECS card.

Do you have a question you’d like answered? Email your queries to: Tom@Zzeus.org.uk

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