G Q A Qualifications

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by G Q A Qualifications's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from G Q A Qualifications is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


CEO Mick Clayton
Train. Assess. Challenge.
“Quality through Qualifications”
Incorporated in 2002, GQA Qualifications Limited is an awarding
body working across the glass, construction and printing
industries. Based in Sheffield, their mission of “Quality through
Qualifications” is gaining traction, and registrations have
increased year on year. GQA was set up by the glass industry
in order to improve quality levels within the manufacturing,
processing and installation of glass and related products, which
they achieve by providing robust, industry-specific knowledge
and competence qualifications. CEO Mick Clayton elaborates.
At GQA, we aim to work in fields that we have good access to knowledge and
experience, enabling us to discuss specific issues and qualifications with both
approved centres and employers. We are approved and regulated in all four UK
nations, and we intend to maintain this national coverage, despite the divergence
of regulatory requirements at the national level.
Our service
In our early years, cash flow was always an operational priority. By developing and
successfully implementing a series of strategic plans, we have managed to increase
and diversify income streams while remaining true to our mission and employer base.
GQA qualifications are delivered through 80 centres, which are made up of a
mix of training providers, FE colleges and employers, which all have access to our
tailored registration, certification and e-portfolio system. These centres receive site
visits by external quality advisors, although sampling and support are increasingly
provided through the online system. Our approach to centre monitoring is one
»CEO: Mick Clayton
»Incorporated in 2002
»Located in Sheffield
»Services: Accredited
»Regulators: Ofqual, CCEA,
SQA and Qualifications Wales
»Qualifications issued: 80,000
»Turnover: £1 million
GQA Qualifications
Highlighting best practice
of providing advice, support and
guidance to all within the assessment
and verification process, in addition to
a regulatory compliance provision.
Qualifications are very much the currency
of competence for those operating in the
fenestration, glass, glazing, construction
and print industries, with many
employers and employees understanding
achievement and what is required.
Developing industry standards
As a people development organisation,
we were heavily involved in the
development of the fenestration
industry minimum technical
competencies in 2011. These were
approved by the government as a
minimum level of assessment and
were intended to provide a stepping
stone to a fully qualified workforce.
In practice, this has proved to be a
difficult journey, and it is interesting to
note that the government’s Industrial
Strategy for Construction 2025 report
highlighted that “multiple entry
points, a plethora of qualifications, a
wide variety in the quality of training
provision and complicated funding
options can overwhelm and confuse
businesses and individuals.” It would
be difficult to argue against that
statement five years later on.
It was encouraging to have the
fenestration-linked associations and
federations involved in the development
of the MTCs, in full agreement that
the MTCs should be the starting
point of each individual’s lifelong
journey, helping to create the qualified
workforce needed byemployers.
The same document highlights:
“Without engaging in appropriate CPD
the workforce cannot hope to maintain
competence let alone develop the
knowledge and skills needed to adapt
to changing business and client needs
and make use of the latest technology
and materials.”
Some schemes already have
qualification achievement built in.
When qualification-based schemes
such as these become part of
normal procurement and contracting
processes, quality will inevitably
improve. This applies to both public-
and private-sector procurement.
Industry feedback shows that while
glass and supporting structures may be
manufactured to the highest possible
standards, incorrect installation causes
significant problems. It is an industry
imperative that quality is driven down
into the aftersales sector. This not
only raises the brand perception of
manufacturers and installers but could
also prevent tragic incidents from
occurring in the future.
The glass and fenestration sector in the
UK is characterised by a small number
of large manufacturers supported by a
larger number of first-tier customers,
which sell on to the many thousands
of SMEs and individual installers and
fabricators. The manufacturers and first-
tier customers are extremely supportive
of using qualifications to ensure quality.
The vast majority of industry employees
work for SMEs or are self-employed.
Although some do access qualifications,
most will only do so if mandated. There
is a real need for regulatory intervention
to help the industry to raise both quality
standards and, more importantly,
safety standards.
Dave Naylor (NW)
receives GQA Award
engaging in
appropriate CPD
the workforce
cannot hope to
competence let
alone develop
the knowledge
and skills needed
to adapt to
business and
client needs and
make use of the
latest technology
and materials
Advocacy for qualification-
based schemes
We have been gradually building up a
consensus of opinion throughout the
sector that supports qualification-based
schemes. Some employers have even
had their own internal training and
assessment schemes accredited to give
them the consistency and confidence
they are looking for in their workforces.
This approach is very different to the
current trailblazer or “standards-based”
initiatives for apprentices. After three
years of widespread frustration, the
reform of fenestration apprenticeship
schemes is still in its development
phase, and it is far from certain
whether there is widespread employer
support for the reform. Furthermore,
existing competence qualifications
offered throughout the four nations
for the same sector may soon become
confusingly different due to the
different nation approaches to the use
of national occupational standards for
qualification development.
A possibly unintended consequence
of the new arrangements is that
if qualifications are updated in
England, they will no longer attract
funding support. This will effectively
prevent centres from offering them,
removing choice for employers and
the opportunity to improve employee
practices and approaches.
We want to bring the right people
development initiatives to the industry.
The skills that already exist need to
be recognised and perhaps honed
to improve practice and knowledge.
We want to get the right products in
place to train the next generation of
fabricators, the latest installers and
future surveyors.
We offer more than 100 industry-
related qualifications. Our approved
centre network covers the whole of
the UK and provides glass, glazing,
fenestration and construction
qualifications to help the industry
to improve. Qualifications are key
to training, retraining, personal
recognition and ongoing compliance.
We continue to lobby industry to place
qualifications at the heart of not just
schemes such as CSCS but as part of
the improvement of the industry as
Nationwide Windows Ltd is a vertically integrated manufacturer and
installer of PVC-U and aluminium windows & doors to the public and
private sector, with particular expertise in social housing, education and
new build.
In 2016, Nationwide became the first fenestration manufacturer and
installer to become a GQA approved training centre, meaning they are
able to deliver assessment and training in-house under GQA’s guidance.
Approved following the successful audit of their technical competencies,
processes, facility, equipment and health and safety, Nationwide delivers a
plethora of nationally recognised qualifications to its workforce ‘on the job’.
The aim is to enable Nationwide to deliver a best in class qualification
programme, offering all employees the chance to gain qualifications,
such as NVQs, through their everyday work. The result is skilled
and professional staff and installation teams who understand the
Nationwide culture and deliver exceptional service.
David Naylor joined the team as an employed trainer and assessor to
manage the training programmes from the outset. The success of the
centre saw Nationwide awarded as an organisation who is ‘Making A
Difference’ in the delivery of training in 2017.
To date there have been 36 successful candidates across all levels of
the business delivering qualifications such as: L3 Surveyor NVQ Update,
Level 3 Fenestration and Surveying, Level 2 Award for Fenestration
Installation Competency Update, Level 3 NVQ in Survey and Installation
and Level 3 Surveying and Fenestration Installation Update
We need to get the right
products in place to train
the next generation of
fabricators, installers and


This article was sponsored by G Q A Qualifications. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister