MCS launches consultancy on competency requirements 

MCS has published a one-month consultation in relation to the competency requirements associated with achieving and maintaining MCS certification. 

MCS is inviting comments from stakeholders on two planned changes, which, taken together, will form a new MCS competency framework: 

(1) A rewrite of MCS 025 as the MCS competency standard, and as a result, the retirement of related Scheme documents that are no longer required, with the intention of simplifying how MCS describes its competency requirements. 

(2) The adoption of a new approach to the approval of training programmes and their delivery, assessed to be in alignment with the competency criteria for the installation of a given technology. 

The purpose of the competency framework is to provide the means by which individuals, companies and their Certification Bodies can determine competency and associated training needs. 

Background on MCS

MCS is a company-based certification scheme. When either seeking or maintaining certification, MCS requires each company (MCS contractor) to demonstrate how they engage the services of individuals with the appropriate skills, competency and experience for the installation of each technology within their scope. 

This consultation presents an MCS competency framework that is concise and easy to understand. This framework can support the anticipated growth in the UK’s small-scale renewable technology sector. 

The benefits of this new framework will be: 

  • Simplification of the definition of competency under the Scheme and a single reference point for approved training and qualifications for MCS contractors wishing to secure or retain their certification. 
  • Supporting a consistent, sector wide definition of what constitutes competency, underpinning the delivery of thousands of high-value jobs and instilling consumer confidence in the sector’s tradespeople. 
  • Furthering the professionalism of the UK’s small-scale renewable technology sector, which has a critical role to play in the achievement of net-zero. 
  • Identification of the appropriate training and qualifications, enabling those who aspire to roles in the industry to understand the training they need, and to support companies in determining the competency and associated training needs of their employees. 
  • Support for certification assessments conducted by certification bodies that include establishing the competency of the individuals working for an MCS contractor. 
  • Support the sector’s training market, offering a specification to which future training initiatives will need to meet, and the development of ‘approved’ in-house training programmes. 

1. Revision to MCS 025 

The first part of this consultation invites feedback on a rewrite of MCS 025 – the MCS competency standard. This will lead to the retirement of associated scheme documentation. This is in favour of an online reference to competency criteria for each technology, and an associated list of approved training courses and qualifications that meets the competency criteria. 

This approach will give the scheme much needed flexibility for the future. It will also allow MCS the ability to consult on competency updates as this change, in line with the technology and working practices. It also allows timely updates of the latest training provisions, providing the ability to retire provision easily and add newly approved training courses and qualifications that would otherwise have required to undergo a ‘change process’. 

The rewrite of MCS 025 includes the following key changes: 

  • A modernised document style and update to new MCS standard text. 
  • Introduction of a framework to accommodate the competency criteria applicable to a technology.  
  • A reduction in the previous range of ‘company roles’ referred to in the existing version of the Standard, down to just two roles that are directly associated with MCS certification i.e., the MCS nominee, being responsible for a contractor’s overall compliance to MCS, and the nominated technical persons (NTPs). 
  • Strengthening of the requirement for an MCS contractor to employ sufficiently competent individuals, with a need to identify several of NTPs proportionate to the volume and complexity of an MCS contractor’s installation activities. 
  • Introduction of a requirement for individual reassessment after five years, with the intention of maintaining the sector’s competency as technology and working practices change. 
  • Removal of references made in the existing standard to a ‘competency checker tool’, which was released several years ago but was subsequently withdrawn. 
  • The removal of the ‘Competency Guidance’ document, which is to be retired from the Scheme document library in favour of an online reference to MCS approved courses via the MCS website. 
  • Retirement of the ‘experienced worker route’ given the challenges associated with determining an individual’s competency via this route and therefore its use in only a limited number of circumstances. MCS plans to introduce an independent competency assessment, starting with heating related technologies, for those individuals who have industry experience but do not hold in-date training qualifications and have no desire to attend approved training. 

2. Introduction of new competency definition and assessment processes 

In addition to the changes proposed to MCS 025, MCS is also seeking feedback on a new approach for the approval of future training and qualifications associated with MCS competency requirements. 

This new approach will include the following: 

  • An assessment process for new training provision against a definition of competency, which is expected to increase confidence in the sector’s training provision and the qualifications awarded to individuals. 
  • To partner with an independent skills and training assessor organisation to support the approval of training courses that can be mapped to MCS competency criteria and the training centres that deliver them. To avoid duplication of work for training centres, MCS will accept existing Certification Body or Awarding Organisation centre approval as a proxy. 
    Note: In the interim, MCS will continue to recognise a range of existing courses that can establish the competency of individuals. The revised MCS 025 refers to a list of these courses and qualifications, hosted on the MCS website that can be seen here: 
  • To develop and then licence an assessment protocol for those individuals already working in the sector. Assessments are to be made available to those individuals who consider themselves to have the necessary competency but do not hold in-date training qualifications. This is considered a more robust alternative to the ‘experienced worker route’ that is both highly subjective and a challenge to assess against. 
  • Disband the MCS competency working group in favour of broad industry consultations as to the Scheme’s competency requirements, and where possible, make links to existing definitions of competency. MCS will only develop its own competency requirements, if existing sector criteria are deemed inadequate for the full scope of work undertaken by MCS Contractors. 

MCS invites comments from stakeholders on both areas of this consultation, using the consultation response form. Once the consultation feedback has been assessed, MCS will publish findings in summer 2022. 

The deadline for submitting comments for both elements of the consultation is 10.00am, Monday 11th April 2022.

Email responses to: