The Alliance’s 3rd Annual General Meeting –13 July 2011
In introducing the event, independent chairman Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan confirmed that, during the previous 12 months, the Agency Alliance “had been able to deliver on its promises in a number of key areas”.
Real progress had been made towards the “key commitment” that will oblige Agency Alliance members to make a “tangible contribution” to the training efforts of the sector, he said.
It was also worth noting, said Lord O’Neill, that these achievements had been brought about via strategic working relationships which the Agency Alliance had developed, maintained and enhanced with other organisations across the sector.
“The status of the Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance has been considerably enhanced, and it is playing a valuable and central role in representing the interests of the sector as a whole," said Lord O’Neill.
The Alliance's Annual Report for 2010–2011 is available – Click here (PDF)
Alliance Independent Chairman Lord O’Neill (centre) with John Meadley, Alliance Secretary (left) and Peter Rimmer HVCA (right).
A section of the audience
Glen Hawkins delivers a presentation on “Industry Change – Its Projected Impact on Contractors and Employment Businesses”
Michelle Aldous delivers a presentation on “Managing Health Risks in Construction”
Paula Samuels, HVCA (centre), Max White, 1st Step Solutions Ltd (left) and Pete Curtis, Briggs & Forrester (right) – authors of the Hiring Agency Workers guide.
THE ALLIANCE’S 2ND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 20 SEPTEMBER 2010
EMPLOYMENT AGENCY ALLIANCE ENJOYS STEADY GROWTH
The past year has been one of consolidation for the Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance, according to its independent chairman, Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan.
Speaking at the second annual general meeting of the Alliance, which was held in London on Monday 20 September, Lord O’Neill pointed out that membership had continued to grow modestly over the previous 12 months – and that the organisation had enjoyed “a number of opportunities to fine-tune the way it operates”, and to “refine its aims, objectives and longer-term aspirations”.
At the end of its first year of existence – in April 2009 – the Alliance had comprised 15 members, accounting on average for more than 17,000 monthly lettings of skilled personnel to contractors and service providers across the sector.
“In what has been a demanding period for the industry, it is pleasing to be able to confirm that only two of that number are no longer involved in the business,” said Lord O’Neill.
Indeed, “steady but solid growth” had continued, with the recruitment of a further five agencies – accounting for 7,900 average monthly personnel lettings – with a number of further prospects in the pipeline.
During the meeting, membership certificates were presented to five new members – ABC Contract Services Ltd, Active Technical Resources Ltd, Exxell Group, Jark Construction Ltd and Meridian Business Support Ltd.
Frank Boyle of On-Site Recruitment Services was elected to fill a vacancy on the Alliance’s Executive Committee.
The business session which immediately followed the meeting featured three expert speakers.
They were: Caroline Yarrow of law firm Bircham Dyson Bell on the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations; Liz Bridge, secretary of the Joint Taxation Committee for the Construction Industry, on HMRC’s proposals for tackling “false self-employment” across construction; and Peter Rimmer, HVCA head of employment affairs, on the work programme and initiatives currently being taken forward by the Alliance.
Pictured during the presentation of membership certificates to new Alliance members are (left to right): Tony Higginson of Exxell Group; Kathy Mitchell of Jark Construction; Peter Rimmer of the HVCA; Lord O’Neill, independent chairman of the Alliance; John Meadley, Alliance secretary; Paul Nolan of ABC Contract Services; Darryl Fordham of Active Technical Resources; and Matt Geary of Meridian Business Support.
AGENCY ALLIANCE SPRING 2010 CONFERENCE
MANPOWER SUPPLY AGENCIES COMMITTING TO TRAINING – WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS
The Agency Alliance held a Spring Conference in London on 27 May 2010. The Conference was attended by 22 delegates representing 16 of the 18 employment agency members of the Alliance, 15 representatives of major m&e contracting firms and the principal bodies involved in the delivery of training to the sector, with a total audience of around 50.
The principal purpose of the Conference was to address the important long-term commitment made by Alliance members through the Alliance’s Key Commitments to contribute to initiatives designed to maintain and develop the sector’s skills base. In particular, there was a need to decide what form the commitment might take in the next edition of the Alliance’s Key Commitments. This could include identifying more precisely the specific actions that might be imposed by this commitment and how these might be measured by future audits, beginning 2011, undertaken by the independent auditor appointed on behalf of the Alliance.
Following opening remarks by the Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan – the Alliance’s independent Chairman – an overview of the industry’s training requirements and the standards and rigour required in training delivery was given by Sarah Wicks, HVCA Head of Education and Training. This was augmented by Richard Harris, Chairman, HVCA Education Committee, who provided an insight into contractors’ expectations in light of changing industry needs.
An overview of the funding mechanisms available to support training was given by Keith Marshall – Chief Executive, SummitSkills – the building services engineering industry’s Sector Skills Council. This covered funding both for apprentices and for the up-skilling of existing workers. Keith referred to two recent statements by Ministers which he felt provided some cause for optimism regarding the coalition Government’s possible approach to technology training. Nevertheless, Mr. Marshall cautioned that this would need to be reevaluated in light of the expected significant spending cuts by central Government; this would inevitably result in uncertainty regarding the training landscape and could impact the funding available for training.
After these key presentations, there followed a series of short presentations with practically-focussed case studies about what agencies and training providers have done and/or are contemplating doing in support of training provision in the industry.
The first such presentation was given by Jim Simms of Alliance member BMS Ltd and dealt with how collaboration between an agency and an industry managing agent for training had the potential to increase apprentice numbers in building services engineering, by adapting to changing employment models.
Next up, Jon Howlin of QTS – a training solutions provider – described how workers can be given proper credit for their skills and competence through collaboration between a private sector training provider and industry manpower suppliers.
The third short presentation – by Iain Coates of Alliance member Diamond Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Ltd – covered the experience of an agency in meeting contractors’ short-term, critical requirements to ensure product/manpower supplied meets the ever more demanding and changing requirements of contractors.
Finally, a training provider’s response was given by Andrea Sharp – General Manager, Operations of Building Engineering Services Training (BEST) Ltd – the industry’s managing agent for training. Andrea addressed how a key industry-recognised training provider can work with contractors and agencies to deliver training solutions which address the industry’s need and adapt to changing employment and training models.
In drawing the Conference towards closure, Alliance Chairman Lord O’Neill led a plenary discussion on:
- further encouraging Alliance members to engage in the industry’s training effort;
- establishing whether a particular favoured approach could be identified; and
- deciding whether and how the approach favoured by Alliance members might best be enshrined in the Alliance’s Key Commitments.
The key message emerging from the discussion was that members of the Agency Alliance confirmed that they have a crucial part to play in the provision of vocational training across building services engineering, perhaps even including shared initiatives for apprentice training.
Immediately following the Conference, a regular meeting of the Alliance’s Executive Committee was held. Among other things, the Committee reviewed the messages that had come out of the Conference regarding, in particular, the possibility of a central pool of apprentices being managed on behalf of the Agency Alliance. The Committee agreed to convene a special meeting involving training providers to actively consider the various models available with a view to developing pilot projects for a collective approach to apprentice training.
Alliance Independent Chairman, Lord O’Neill, addresses the Spring Conference on 27 May 2010
Alliance members praised for professionalism and commitment to industry best practice
Members of the Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance were presented with their membership certificates during a reception held in the House of Commons on Wednesday 26 November.
The alliance was established by the HVCA earlier this year, in acknowledgement of the increasingly important role employment agencies are playing in the sector's supply chain.
To qualify for alliance membership, organisations must be able to demonstrate – via an independent inspection and audit regime – that they meet industry– recognised standards in relation to a range of business processes and procedures, including vocational training and health and safety.
In presenting certificates to 12 of the 14 current members, Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan, independent chairman of the alliance, praised their commitment to best practice in all its aspects.
"The high standards of professionalism demonstrated by members of the Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance provide a significant degree of assurance to contractors seeking to augment their workforce on a temporary basis," said Lord O'Neill.
The House of Commons event also featured a presentation from Ed Dwan, tax risk management partner at BDO Stoy Hayward, on a range of taxation issues of relevance both to employment agencies and to building services engineering contractors.
Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan (front row, third from right) with representatives of alliance members at the House of Commons on 26 November (back row, left to right): Peter Cooper, Oracle Global Resourcing; Mike Power, Vital Resources; Max White, First Step Recruitment Solutions; Andy Howard, Options Employment (Southern); Richard Snarey, Phoenix Resourcing Services; Antony Weir, Optima Site Solutions; Iain Coates, Diamond Mechanical and Electrical Engineering; (front row, left to right): John McBrien, Redwood Building Services; Jim Simms, BMS Group; Linda Gleeson, CSS Recruitment Services; Siobhain Ahearne, Gulmanda Site Services; and Darren Burnett, On-Site Recruitment Solutions.
The launch of the Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance took place at the Tower of London on Tuesday 15 April 2008.
The Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance represents a voluntary grouping of employment agencies that supply skilled personnel to contractors across building services engineering.
Three agencies have already achieved Alliance membership, following a series of pilot audits carried out in the second half of 2007. They are: the Capital Group; Oracle Global Resourcing Ltd; and Phoenix Resourcing Services Ltd.
To qualify for membership, an agency must be able to demonstrate its compliance with the recognised industry standards contained in the Alliance’s Key Commitments.
These will be used to establish whether an organisation is operating on a sound commercial footing, is appropriately regulated, and displays a genuine commitment to the sector.
To ensure compliance with the Key Commitments, agencies seeking Alliance membership must submit to a business audit carried out by BM TRADA Certification.
This process will be repeated every three years, with an annual compliance inspection taking place in each intervening year.
“Formation of the Alliance recognises the increasingly important role that employment agencies are playing in the supply chain – along with a need for clear standards by which their performance can be judged,” explained Peter Rimmer, head of the HVCA’s Employment Affairs Department.
“It will also facilitate strategic dialogue between contractors and their manpower suppliers on a range of issues – including education and training, health and safety, workforce competence and legislation.”
Independent chairman of the Alliance is former MP and Labour peer Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan.
“There was a time when the very existence of employment agencies – and the employment of agency workers – was viewed with much suspicion,” Lord O’Neill acknowledged.
In these competitive times, however, many building services engineering contractors had found it increasingly difficult to ensure that the skills and competences of their permanent employees always matched their clients’ requirements.
“As a result, agencies have become a familiar – and, in many cases, a much-valued – feature of the overall employment landscape, as well as a significant provider of skilled labour.
“It is logical, therefore, that the industry’s focus should have turned away from the wholesale discouragement of employment agency activity – and towards differentiating between their relative merits.
“The purpose of the Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance is to assist in just such differentiation,” Lord O’Neill concluded.
For further information, contact John Meadley on 020 7313 4914 (email@example.com).