Besa wins leading trade association award 

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has won the Training Initiative of the Year at the Trade Association Forum (TAF) best practice awards. It was also shortlisted in three other categories: digital transformation, event of the year, and sustainability initiative.  

The awards, which are supported by the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), are now in their 19th year and were created to recognise and reward the excellence, innovation, and best practice demonstrated by UK trade bodies.  

“We are absolutely delighted to have gained such comprehensive recognition at these important awards,” said BESA’s chief executive officer David Frise.  

“The fact that these categories reflect so many different aspects of BESA’s work is an amazing testament to the hard work of the staff in all areas. We are very proud of being such a broad-based association and that we provide a wide range of support services to our members right across the spectrum of building engineering.”  

Critical services for a sector with a serious skills shortage 

The judges recognised the Association’s achievement in accelerating the establishment of its online training academy at the height of the pandemic. The BESA Academy now delivers a comprehensive programme of training courses, assessments and CPDs for individuals, employers, and training providers – all critical services for a sector with a serious skills shortage.   
The Academy’s digital platform also supports a hybrid delivery option for learners and colleges – and was pivotal in helping employers keep the technical competence and compliance of their workers up to date when ‘in person’ training was restricted during lockdowns.  

“This is a major accolade and a fitting reward for all the hard work of the Academy team in pulling together this cutting-edge training platform,” said BESA’s director of training and skills Helen Yeulet.  

“The ability to combine online and in person training is the future for technical sectors like building engineering. I am extremely proud of the BESA team for making sure we are at the forefront of this vital development for the future of skills in our country.”  

Digital revolution 

The TAF Awards judges also recognised BESA for the way it has gone through a comprehensive digital revolution that has transformed the way it conducts business, interacts with colleagues, engages with members, and delivers products and services.  This has helped it to improve operating efficiency and meet its sustainability targets, hence its shortlisting in the digital transformation category.  

The 2021 BESA National conference was a multi-stream, free to attend virtual conference that was attended by almost 500 delegates and featured 67 speakers providing more than 21 hours of specialised content.   

It was opened by architect and TV star George Clarke and featured a virtual exhibition, member clinics and networking opportunities. All of this was recognised by the TAF Awards shortlisting panel who put it forward for the event of the year award.  

And in the sustainability initiative category, BESA was recognised for the achievements of its REFCOM elite scheme, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.  

Ozone depletion and global warming 

It was set up as a best practice company registration scheme in 1996, to promote environmentally responsible refrigerant management. BESA recognised early on the need for employers to improve control of refrigerant use and prevent release to atmosphere to reduce ozone depletion and global warming.  

Although these threats are now a huge focus across the globe, the TAF panel recognised that REFCOM was ahead of the curve in spotting the need to implement best practice to reduce emissions and has made fantastic progress in its 25 years.  

The BESA training and skills team has also launched an apprenticeship pledge campaign to encourage employers to take on at least one apprentice this year in a bid to plug the industry’s alarming skills gap and ensure it has the right talent to address future challenges.  

The loss of experienced workers

With the building services sector struggling to cope with the loss of many experienced workers since the start of the pandemic and a rapidly ageing workforce, the need to recruit new people who can quickly start contributing to business growth is acute. 

Emily Wallace, interim chief executive of the Trade Association Forum, congratulated BESA saying:   

“Trade associations such as BESA have played a critical role in supporting the UK economy throughout the turbulence of the last two years. As we move forward, it is right to celebrate the achievements of the sector, recognise excellence and collaborate to improve the role that associations can continue to play to support the economy for the future.”