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Ewen Rose Dec 1, 2023 1:23:13 PM 2 min read

BESA backs 'new and improved' degree apprenticeship



Substantially revised degree apprenticeships for building services engineering will help employers plug critical skills gaps and launch more young people into rewarding careers, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA). The Association welcomed the announcement from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) that a new single degree level ‘Building Services Engineer’ (BSE) apprenticeship would be launched from 2025.

The process was led by the Technical Apprenticeship Consortium (TAC), which brings together employers and training specialists, with courses leading to the new apprenticeship expected to start in the spring of 2025 subject to final approval from the Secretary of State for Education.

The apprenticeships are expected to have government funding support of up to £27,000 per applicant, and universities and colleges are expected to start reviewing their courses next year.

The new single apprenticeship brings together the former Building Services Design Engineer (ST0372), which was first launched in October 2017, and Building Services Engineering Site Management (ST0040), which started in May 2018.

These two courses led to the accreditation of more than 900 apprentices with degrees recognised by CIBSE – the sector’s chartering body – with many of the successful students registering with the Engineering Council as Incorporated Engineers (IEng). However, employers had called for changes to better reflect their needs and the aspirations of a new generation of engineers.

Feedback The creation of ‘trailblazer’ groups also enabled more direct feedback from employers into the content of apprentice training and TAC was able to draw on this to update the degree level qualifications.

The review process overwhelmingly concluded that BSE degree level qualifications needed to be more flexible, according to Helen Yeulet, BESA’s director of training and skills.

“Apprentices don’t want to pigeonhole themselves too early in their careers,” said Caroline Sudworth of TAC. “There are many different routes into building services engineering these days and multiple career paths available including design, contracting, client roles and manufacturing.

“Many also look to upgrade to a degree level qualification at different stages of their careers and the content of the training needs to be flexible enough to reflect this,” added Neil Weller of Troup Bywaters and Anders, and Chair of the Employer Trailblazer Group.

The new approach will considerably reduce the burden of assessment on apprentices; with the final dissertation element amended to deliver a technical project which can support progression to the professional review stage, according to IfATE.

It is also hoped that the new approach will reduce the number of candidates who withdraw without completing the process which can last up to five years.

“The new qualification should prove much more user-friendly for both candidates and their employers,” said the TAC statement. “The content is also more directly relevant to modern careers in building services engineering and will, therefore, better equip successful students for careers in our fast-moving sector.”