Training Initiative Of The Year
Initiative Name: LCL Awards Inclusivity Charter
Company: LCL Awards
Date of Launch: 20th April 2022
LCL Awards’ Inclusivity Charter has been introduced to promote respectful behaviour and flexible course delivery so more people can access training in the building services sector.
BACKGROUND: In response to the lack of women and other under-represented groups in the building services engineering sector – less than 1% of tradespeople are female – LCL Awards introduced the Inclusivity Charter for its approved training centres, to encourage them to take steps to make their facilities welcoming places, with flexible course options to suit people from all walks of life.
The Charter was developed with Hattie Hasan, founder of all-female plumbing business, Stopcocks Women Plumbers, who recently received an MBE for her services to women in the plumbing and heating industry. Hattie also introduced the Register of Tradeswomen last year, a not-for-profit organisation that connects householders with tradeswomen and helps survivors of domestic abuse to get into skilled trades.
Officially launched to LCL Awards centres at the end of April, those that sign up to the Charter must first review where they are in-terms of inclusivity – from not tolerating offensive language, to developing courses which can be delivered online and/or in the evening and at weekends to suit the needs of parents (as well as people fitting training in around the day job). This ‘Inclusivity Charter Checklist’ forms part of LCL Awards’ auditing process, which its accredited centres must complete annually.
IMPACT: It’s early days for the Charter, but to our knowledge, LCL Awards is the first certification body to implement a formal framework for inclusive practices.
Interest amongst women in building services has grown exponentially in recent years, but there are still prejudices and barriers. Childcare in particular is an issue for all parents. The catalyst for this Charter was the conversations we had with female trainees who had experienced seemingly ‘harmless’ comments in the classroom – questions regarding their strength to lift a boiler, for example – and women who have had to give up training because the cost and logistics of childcare is too much.
In a post Covid age, we are all far more used to communicating online. Many aspects of LCL’s qualifications can be delivered in this way, something that came into its own during lockdowns. These tools, plus other flexible approaches, such as evening and weekend courses, open up training to a much broader range of people.
Overall, the BSE sector is experiencing a skills shortage. We need more people if we are going to meet the demand presented by a low carbon future. Varied viewpoints and life experiences will also progress our industry for the better.
CHARTER LAUNCH: LCL Awards launched the new Inclusivity Charter with an online CPD session for its approved centres, covering a range of topics including unconscious bias (delivered by Hattie Hassan), flexibility of course delivery, managing conflict and representation – how centres can demonstrate their inclusive values through their communication channels (websites, marketing material etc.)
Following this session, participating centres were sent an Inclusivity Charter Checklist to see how their current activity matched with the Charter’s aims (to view the Charter, click here: https://lclawards.co.uk/inclusivity-charter.) This checklist then forms a benchmark which will be checked annually as part of LCL Awards’ auditing process. Centres will be assessed to see if they are maintaining inclusive practices, as well as areas they are working towards – are they implementing more flexible course delivery options? for example.
Centres that have signed up to the Charter will receive a plaque and poster of the Charter itself, to be displayed within their training facilities. They will also be encouraged to share the logo and supporting information on their website, in order to demonstrate to trainees their commitment to inclusivity.
This is just the beginning of a process which we hope will inspire significant cultural change in our industry.
IMPORTANCE TO THE WIDER INDUSTRY: This initiative is extremely important to the wider industry. Welcoming training environments will encourage more people to move into building services; from school leavers through to older career changers.
“Training is the first step in most people’s careers, so getting this bit right in terms of ensuring people feel they can move into a sector that might not be considered ‘the norm’ is crucial,” said Hattie Hassan. “This is why I was so keen to work with LCL Awards when they approached me.
Tracy Harker, Quality Assurance & Relationship Manager for LCL Awards, said: “At the moment, the majority of BSE workers are white, male and middle aged. To move our industry forward we need more diverse inputs, which can only serve to improve the sector and society as a whole.”
According to a report by LCL Awards centre, Skills Training Group, the number of young people entering the gas sector specifically is in decline, down over 4% in the last 16 years. Part of the challenge of engaging with young people – all young people, not just women and other under- represented groups – is ensuring our training centres and workplaces represent modern attitudes. Inclusivity is a big part of this.
THE FUTURE: In time, all LCL Awards centres will meet the standards set out in the Charter getting to a point where ‘inclusivity’ becomes an essential part of our approval process.
With 150 centres throughout the UK, LCL Awards has the potential to make a real difference – more diversity in the classroom will result in more diversity in the workplace, which will also have an impact at grass roots level, encouraging more young women to choose trade and engineering roles.
For our centres, apart from being the right thing to do, attracting more people is ultimately good for business. Women in particular are a largely untapped marketplace. There are also benefits for staff working in these centres – workplaces where well-being is valued tend to have better staff retention and greater productivity.
The last two points of the Charter summarise these aims:
• Our ambition is to help as many people as possible access the building services engineering sector; to improve lives, improve the sector and combat skills shortages.
• We believe that inclusion creates an environment where everyone is valued, feels valued and are therefore able to achieve their highest potential.
Entry ID: 5483