Certass Limited is a UKAS approved Certification Body for the operation of a Competent Person Scheme for a variety of construction firms. Jason Clemmit, Certass Managing Director talks through the company’s vital work and provides us with an intriguing insight into what the future holds for Certass Limited.
In 2012 the DCLG, Government Department in charge of Competent Person Schemes, launched a new Competent Person Scheme operator’s license. Amongst other things, a major new license requirement was for site operatives employed by companies to be fully assessed by the Certification Body for their individual technical competence.
Site operatives could meet this new DCLG license requirement by either having a recognised National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) or by completing a Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) assessment carried out by the approved Certification Body. The MTC assessment is based on National Occupational Standards as is the same with an NVQ.
A large proportion of the Certass membership base is within the glazing sector. This industry sector did not have a high take-up of recognised qualifications, so it was an extreme challenge to establish a framework, write the assessment guidance, find and train an adequate number of suitably qualified assessors and to carry out the required on-site assessments within the Government set timeframes.
Not only did we manage to develop a framework that has been recognised as both robust and practical thus avoiding any heavy, unnecessary admin burden being felt by the industry, Certass has been instrumental in turning around an industry sector that did not have a recognised qualified workforce to one of the most recognised in a very short time span. Certass site operatives can now readily prove their competence with a Certass provided photo ID skills card showing their qualifications. The MTC qualification is not a one-off and forget qualification, the site operative must be able to demonstrate their on-going competence and be re-assessed every few years.
Certass is a Certification Body that provides a quality assurance mark to its member companies, the member company can then use this mark to demonstrate its competence to its customers. We operate in the Renovation, Maintenance, Improvement (RMI) construction sector for both installers and product manufacturers. We operate schemes we have created under our own mark such as our Company Vetted scheme or schemes that operate under a Government licence such as Competent Person, PAS2030 and TrustMark.
Competent Person Schemes are self-certification schemes which were established by Government in 2002, that allow certified contractors to self-certify that their works meet current Building Regulations rather than using Local Authority Building Control. Certass obtained a license to operate a glazing Competent Person Scheme in 2006 to provide much needed competition to this industry sector.
In 2010 Certass launched the Thermal Rating Register, a product certification scheme for the thermal performance of windows and doors. The scheme again brought competition to the glazing fabrication sector providing cost effective window energy rating to companies. In the same year Certass obtained a license to operate the TrustMark certification scheme which is a Government endorsed scheme for consumer protection.
In 2012 Certass obtained a license to operate a PAS2030 scheme for the Government’s Green Deal measures. At the same time Certass expanded its scope of certification to include building fabric insulation.
Through our scheme Certass currently has several thousand installer and manufacturer companies certified covering most contractor trades through one of our schemes.
Our customers range from sole trader single operative companies to UK national installers and manufacturers. We deliver the same high standard of customer service to all our member companies no matter what their size is.
In addition to operating our schemes under our own Certass branding, we also operate a number of partnership white-label schemes for a number of national and international manufacturers wanting to operate their own quality assurance schemes for installers fitting their products.
It is easy for Certass to provide a friendly and supportive service to our customers because that’s just who the team of people that work at Certass are. When recruiting new people into the Certass team, it becomes evident pretty quickly who has the right disposition to complement our team.
We ask for on-going feedback, both formally and informally, from both our customers and our customers, customers (the consumer) asking about their experience of our service and what they would like to see us do.
With regard to cost effective services, our certification services do not return a dividend to shareholders, any profits are reinvested in the business to deliver a better service to industry.
Working within the RMI sector provides us with a number of challenges, particularly green technologies, which are subject to Government policy and influence. Therefore the biggest challenge to come is what will Government policy be following the collapse of the Green Deal scheme and the likely changes to ECO.
Currently the Government has commissioned an independent review – the Bonfield Review to look at standards, consumer protection and enforcement of energy efficiency schemes. Certass is actively engaged in this review to try and adequately represent industry. Whatever the review’s outcome, Certass will as always, create products that meet industry needs.
There are many established Certification Bodies some much larger than us competing in the same sector. What sets Certass apart from its competitors is its entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to always look at different ways to deliver an innovative quality service to our customers.
Simply put, we are an enthusiastic bunch of decent people that really do take pride in offering a good service at a really great value price. I believe that a key to our success is that key people within the Certass certification process are drawn from industry and therefore, they understand what our customers want. It is this grounding at Certass that lends its common sense approach so well to all the things we do at Certass.
Because we are a client led business that develops common sense solutions in the dry tick box world of certification, our clients see our unique business ethos and are drawn to the way we work. We have an innovative culture but it is all underpinned by the people within our company being genuine people that really do want to deliver a great service.
I personally believe the reasons for our success begin with the team of truly great people that I lead. We are a close-knit relatively small team of people where everyone wants to deliver a great service to our customers. We blend that friendly and supportive team of people with investment in IT platforms, technical knowledge and a big chunk of common sense to both deliver products to our customers that help their business and lead the way.
Looking to the future, we have the next three years’ product development program mapped out already. In general terms we intend to keep listening to industry and developing our services and products around their needs.
One key area we wish to develop more is strategic partnerships with manufacturers that want a certification service for their installer networks. We are able to dovetail into their marketing efforts and provide the quality framework for their offering. Providing our expertise in auditing and IT platforms to further their key differentiators. We intend to keep our investment in staff, both ensuring adequate numbers and quality training to service our customers. We are currently fully rebuilding our IT platforms to provide a more modern user friendly interface.
Being nominated for this award conveys to our industry sector audience that at Certass we are doing something very right for our customers, we have made some very significant in-roads within our industry and are continually looking to improve what we offer to our members but above all our service excellence. We are all very proud and honoured to have our efforts to date recognised in this way.