I spend most of my time looking at a computer these days. That’s because my main job as the owner of SuperSkills is to get our message out to as many people as possible about how they can get their qualifications.
Nowadays, most people look on the internet to find services such as training courses. It’s been something we’ve noticed over the years we have been delivering construction training courses and NVQ’s – since the industry started going again after the recession, the vast majority of people find us by using internet search. I can’t remember when I last paid for a newspaper advert. They don’t lead to customers for our business.
It follows that we need to be up at the top of the page when people look for construction training courses. To get there, we have to (a) guess what they ask the Google search engine and (b) have a relevant answer to the query. This is – as anyone else who does it will tell you as well – a real Dark Art. You can buy the service, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it. My experience has been that there are a lot of people in the “Search Engine Optimisation” business who are selling little more than you can read about and do yourself.
Don’t get me wrong – they’re not all charlatans and snake oil salesmen – there are some fantastic practitioners available, with outstanding knowledge and a real desire to help. Joost de Valk at Yoast is great. Rand Fishkin provides superb advice in his weekly videos.
One of the best techniques is just the same as in the world of “Bricks and Mortar” as opposed to the internet. A dress shop owner will look in her competitors windows as she goes past. On the internet, you search on the terms you think are relevant and see who else comes up. You have a look at their website and decide whether there is something you might do better to help your customers find you.
And that brings me to my point. Every so often, we get customers on the phone asking “How do I get an NVQ?” and we discover they have recently been on a training course where they thought they were going to get one at the end. Today, I was going through search results and came across a construction training provider who promised potential clients a Plastering NVQ in three weeks. Or in four weeks if you took their four week course.
Noticing the discrepancy, I wondered if that company had found a new qualification that we hadn’t come across here at SuperSkills. After a few minutes, I “mystery shopped” them. I called and asked about the three week NVQ course. Sure enough, they offer a three week course. When I asked about the NVQ, things got a bit vague.
Apparently, you can (for additional fees) be given a file of evidence to create whilst working as a plasterer following the course. The assessor will come out and see your work. But when I mentioned where I’m based, I was told this would be difficult, because they have a fifty mile radius they operate in. There could be additional travelling charges, but they tended not to travel that far.
What they were referring to is On Site Assessment & Training – which we can offer to anyone with (usually three years ) trade experience – see here.
The reality is that this – like any other course that says it will get you an NVQ – is a nonsense. You will no doubt learn to plaster. I am absolutely sure you will benefit from that. However, it cannot, on its own, get you a National Vocational Qualification. It is at best an example of mis-selling and I leave readers to decide what the worst scenario is.
To get any National Vocational Qualification, there must be evidence of your competency in the workplace. You need to be working and for the Assessor to see you doing it – to develop your skills by giving you further training if needs be – and for you to meet the occupational standards.
The only exception to this in construction qualifications is when somebody can demonstrate their competency over many years – at least five – and to be able to produce verifiable workplace testimony from people they have worked with or for that proves they are competent. This is called Experienced Worker Practical Assessment and it’s something SuperSkills has specialised in. Read more about it here.
As for somebody coming to see you when you are working – the vast majority of people want the NVQ so they can get a CSCS Card to be allowed to work on a site. No card, no job – no job, no work to be assessed doing – so there is a real “Catch 22” if you’ve spent your money to no purpose.
Now you might wonder why I have such a bee in my bonnet that I have spent an hour or so writing about something that – to be blunt – is nothing to do with me. The reason is that I hate people being ripped off. When somebody is starting out in a trade, they deserve to be dealt with in a manner that is above board. But also, there are plenty of training providers who don’t go in for this sort of malpractice. Funnily enough, they are the ones who get the phone calls from previous customers asking for more training.
The moral of the story is to understand that you simply cannot just take a short training course and get an NVQ.
If somebody tells you their course will get you one, ask how. In detail. With precision. Find out just how much extra it will cost. Which Awarding Body is involved. How you will be assessed. Are there any restrictions in terms of time or distance. What is the title of the qualification. Then go on that awarding body’s website and establish whether the training provider is accredited to deliver it.
If at any time you are in doubt, look elsewhere – or decide that you only need the skills training and can get the qualification another time. That way, you won’t be disappointed.
Don’t forget – we are always happy to give people FREE advice about how they can get their NVQ’s and CSCS Cards. Just call 01845 527445 and we will be happy to help.
SuperSkills offers a range of Construction NVQ Assessments: