Leave a comment on Linkedin

For some time now, we have been talking about assessing the competences of professionals onsite by means of a practical test. Projects such as BUSLeague, focused on stimulating the demand for sustainable energy skills in the construction sector, allow us to test ideas that in the medium or long term can be brought to the market. For this reason, the Valencian Institute of Building (IVE) did not hesitate to collaborate with the Valencian Federation of Construction Companies (FEVEC) in proposing a methodology for certifying people in the acquisition of those skills.

But what competences of the professional could we assess? It had to be a sufficiently specific one to be able to simulate it in a practical exam under the supervision of an evaluator. After listing different micro-competences, we opted for the replacement of conventional windows for windows with thermal bridge break to carry out a first pilot test.

Now, 8 months later, we are in front of a real window, an evaluator and 15 candidates. The candidates are invited one at a time for several days. They stand in front of a real mock-up consisting of a piece of wall where they will simulate the replacement of an old window with a new energy efficient one. Next to them, there is a table with various materials and tools.
We are not surprised to see that all 15 candidates are men, in case anyone doubted that construction is still a largely male sector. 
Among them, we find 12 Spaniards, 4 unemployed, the youngest are 2 in their thirties, most of them only studied until they were 16 years old, but what motivated them to come and what do they think of this certificate?
All of them consider this certificate interesting and most of them think that accrediting their competences can help them to position themselves better in the market and to get better jobs and salaries. In addition, many of them would be interested in accrediting other competences such as: plumbing, masonry, electricity and electronics, installation of prefabricated partitions, installation of shading elements, rehabilitation of facades or even energy rehabilitation of dwellings. However, only one third of them would be willing to be trained, as they prefer to ask their colleagues on site or learn from other professionals by observing how they do it. This fact certainly deserves a reflection on how courses should be more attractive to become a real and voluntary option for workers.

Although there are already systems in place to recognise the competences of professionals acquired through experience, “the proposed methodology is very innovative because it goes beyond bureaucracy and the provision of paper documents”, says María Lladró, our facilitator at FEVEC, who adds “this pilot test will help us to assess the technical and economic viability of the proposed methodology”.

And what were the steps taken to get this far? The first step was to formulate a regulated certification scheme, which was taken on by the consultancy firm Masuno, headed by Javier Ariño, “the certification of people provides an objective system that can be easily verified”. For this reason, this type of certification can be considered as an “evaluation criterion” in financing mechanisms, public tenders or personnel selection processes.

The general certification scheme was then adapted to the selected micro-competence on “window replacement”. Eugenio Corbatón was in charge of detailing the assessment to be carried out with the 15 candidates “the test proposed will be individual and will be carried out in situ for approximately two and a half hours per candidate, with practical and theoretical evaluation, but the process could be speeded up in the future if we introduce virtual reality”.

The conclusions obtained from this test will be shared with other agents in the sector who can promote this initiative and with whom it is necessary to open a dialogue. The aim is to achieve a system agreed by all of them, so that it is transparent and reliable.

Furthermore, it must be a flexible and agile system that allows for the inclusion of innovative micro-competence that are in high demand in the market. And finally, it must be a system formulated in accordance with Spanish regulations for the certification of people, which guarantees its suitability for the recognition of professionals.

“The sector is moving towards the specialisation of workers, so assessing micro-competence seems to be the right way to go” Isabel de los Ríos, secretary of the IVE Certification Entity.

Author: Pepa Esparza Arbona (IVE)

Date: June 2022