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27 Feb 2024

ZZEUS’ Campaign for Mature Fire Alarm Engineers Earns Prestigious Shortlist at Enginuity Awards 2024

Zzeus Training Stand: 5/C95

Zzeus Training, the industry favourite for practical fire alarm qualifications, has been shortlisted for another award.

The Enginuity Skills Awards bring together leaders from the UK’s engineering and manufacturing industries. They gather to celebrate the best talent and the organisations championing skills development to ensure a bright future for these vital sectors in the UK economy. This year, the awards evening will occur during the Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Week on 5 June 2024 in Birmingham.

Zzeus has been shortlisted for the 'Training Partner Skills Champion' award, for their astounding contributions towards helping mature fire alarm engineers demonstrate competency following new legislation post-Grenfell.

'The Building Safety Act October 2023' highlights the requirement for duty holders to ensure that they are using competent Fire Alarm Engineers. This means that for the first time, regardless of years in the industry, fire alarm engineers must obtain an industry-recognised qualification and subsequently hold an ECS Fire, Emergency, and Security Systems (FESS) Systems Technician Gold card or an ECS FESS Systems operative card.

At the time, an apprenticeship was the only way to obtain a gold card. This left the experienced workers at a considerable disadvantage over new apprentices entering the industry. Because of their financial commitments and families, they could not complete a formal three-year apprenticeship. This left them at risk of being outqualified and put on the 'scrap heap’.

In 2023, Zzeus tackled this problem head-on and fought for mature workers. 

This was a challenge, as the company had to find a way to comply fully with the FESS apprenticeship standard, the ECS card requirements, and the recommendations that came out of Dame Judith Hackitt's Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. 

Zzeus worked heavily with Andy Reakes, Director of Growth and Development at ECS (Electrotechnical Certification Scheme), who listened and understood the issue and worked with other stakeholders to find a solution.

Belfast-based college SERC was running a VRQ (vocationally recognised qualifications) for their apprentices in Northern Ireland. It was discovered that this could be adapted for the experienced workers in England. Zzeus collaborated with SERC lecturer Robin Hamill over six months, with many visits to Belfast, meetings with Andy Reakes and the apprenticeship working groups. Eventually, they decided that the EAL Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Providing Electronic Fire and Security Systems would meet all the requirements of the FESS apprenticeship standard. 

The next hurdle was to ensure that the Zzeus training and facilities met all the requirements of the EAL NVQ. This included all staff taking the auditor and IQA-regulated qualifications. Then, Andy Reakes and his team from ECS worked to assemble a solid and robust method of ensuring that if learners completed their NVQ with ZZEUS, EAL could issue the FESS Gold Technician card to experienced workers. 

At the end of 2023, an agreement was finally in place. This was a groundbreaking achievement, and Zzeus launched its new NVQ for mature workers in December. The first four learners completed the NVQ, and Dame Judith Hackitt presented them with their NVQ certificates and the ECS Gold cards and commended Zzeus as 'Pioneers in fire alarm training.'

Tom Brookes, Chairman of the FSA and MD and founder of Zzeus said, "It's been a huge journey to get this over the line for the experienced workers, but I am over the moon that we got there in the end. I could not have done this without the collaboration of Andy Reakes, Robin Hamill, and the dedicated team at Zzeus. Moving forward, our focus is to maintain the momentum and steadily expand the NVQ program. I'm ecstatic to be shortlisted for an award for our efforts towards this. However, with dozens of engineers benefiting from our new qualification, we've already won the real prize. 

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