Although this is a major progress for the Industry, national players have now set to outline how this knowledge and education are acquired by service providers and how exactly the qualifications will be valid ‘across Europe’. In this respect, Euralarm Members are sharing knowledge and information to encourage the emergence of a pan-European qualification system.
With EN 16763 ‘Services for Fire Safety and Security Systems’ a standard aims for the first time to improve the quality of service delivery in our Industry. It does so by specifying the level of competence, knowledge and understanding of a company and the individuals it employs. The standard also sets out the minimum level of education and experience that should be required in order to service a life safety and security system – something that had never been specified before. With that, education has now become central to the fire safety and security Industry in Europe.
But how can an education degree or license be considered equivalent in the United Kingdom and in France for example? The most efficient way of proving somebody’s competence as specified by the standard and throughout Europe would be through a more uniform qualification system. It would allow auditors to simply check that everyone has obtained the correct level of qualifications for the jobs they are doing. This is going to require an enormous amount of time, since each and every one working in the fire and security world should be examined or prove their education .Clearly this will not change overnight , but eventually, those without the appropriate education and experience would see their market access become more limited, increasing our industry’s general level of professionalism.
Although everybody agrees on the necessity of uniform qualifications, a pan-European approach of the problem has so far been missing. Euralarm has taken the lead in defining such an approach. The national associations which form an essential part of its membership are sharing knowledge about national qualification systems: finding answers to questions like ‘who is doing what?’ ‘Is there formal recognition of the qualifications that are awarded?’ ‘Are the qualification checked in a proper and regular way?’ leads to a tremendous amount of data.
These big data will be analysed and used to define a European roadmap. Meanwhile, Euralarm Members will profit from the experience of their counterparts in other countries. The United Kingdom and Romania for example have already embarked on this journey. In the United Kingdom, the FIA has combined several 3-4 weeks training courses into modules with exams. By following a number of these modules, a ‘student’ can obtain a formally recognised qualification that is recognised by the UK government. In Romania the situation is quite different. Here the government and trade association worked together to start education on university level. By using these examples and combine them with the data from other members, the best of both worlds will be combined into a qualification scheme.
Having uniform qualifications would not only level the playing field for services across the whole of Europe, it would also help companies meet the requirements of EN16763. As fire safety and security job seekers will have qualifications that are well-defined and based on the standard. This will also enable the Industry to attract new young professionals more easily and offer them career roadmap.