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Closing the skills gap

The UK faces a shortage of skilled workers, particularly in construction and manufacturing. We report on how Bohle is stepping up to help meet the challenge. 

 “The first thing we do when people come in to attend the course is to sit them down and explain that it’s not about top down learning but shared learning. We may know the technical applications and limitations of products but it’s the guys attending the course who have the ideas and the technical expertise to use it”, explains Amanda Carr, Business Development Executive Bohle.

Originally developed in Germany, Bohle has been running its UK UV bonding customer training course for over 15 years. Now it has partnered with The Vocational College and qualification awarding organisation GQA, to offer a UV Bonding Unit as part of the GQA Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Glass Processing (QCF) and GQA Level 3 Diploma.

“We have been offering the course as part of our customer support programme for some time. It’s free to attend for all customers, and is designed to give glass processors, furniture makers and shop-fitters an understanding of what can be achieved using UV Bonding technologies”, continues Amanda.

The UK has a significant skills deficit, something particularly acute in construction and construction-related industries. At the same time, according to Government figures 625,000 16-24 year-olds were registered as unemployed at the end of last year.

“A number of factors have come together in the glass processing sector, which have contributed to the loss of some skills and pressure on others”, says Andy Carrington, Technical Officer and External Quality Advisor, GQA.

He continues: “On the IGU side, we have seen increasing automation and the introduction of increasingly stringent legislation, pushing some smaller glaziers out of business and with it the traditional glazier skills set that often went with them.

“And on the glass processor side, I’m not sure that we have been effective in communicating some of the very exciting career opportunities that exist within the sector, so outside of perhaps family-run businesses, a new generation of glass processors hasn’t been coming into the industry, as skilled workers have moved out of it at the other end.

“GQA is working with industry to communicate the opportunities that exist to a new generation of glass processors and to support the sector in recruiting and training them.”

“For whatever reasons glass and glazing related industries are not promoted at our schools and colleges as potential career options”

“They are not seen as the way forward or technically challenging but with the introduction of new high tech equipment and the research and development within glass and glazing associated industries they can provide a sustainable career footpath to all”

The Bohle UV Bonding Unit, for the most part emulates the consumables, machinery and tooling wholesaler’s, core customer workshop but with the addition of a series of Q&A and practical assessments. This includes training on optimum environments for UV Bonding covering everything from room and glass temperature to storage of adhesives.

It also explores glass requirements and cleaning to safe manual handling, UV light and equipment and adhesive application and clamping.

“Again, it’s not about us telling people what to do but giving them an understanding of the things that they need to know to achieve what they’re trying to do.

“Furniture makers or shop fitters won’t necessarily have a detailed understanding of glass so it’s about giving them the basics, for example, they need to know the particular edge quality demands for the process, as well as recommended minimum thicknesses.

“It’s also about giving everyone an understanding of not just how to UV bond glass successfully but also   the limitations of application and the alternatives to it.”

Bohle Introduction to UV Bonding [and NVQ Level 2/Level 3 Unit] at a glance:

“This is very much a practical programme”, continues Amanda. “There is a theoretical element to it first to build basic understanding but even this is a two-way process as we talk about the application of the technology in their own businesses.

“It’s also worth mentioning that the course and training units are delivered in our showroom and training centre, which helps recreate a workshop environment; it’s not about classroom-based learning.

“This makes it very much a two-way street. It also works well for us because it provides us with valuable insight into changing customer requirements and allows us to work with them to meet them.”

As the largest provider of glass-related qualifications in the UK and with NVQ pass rates at 91%, The Vocational College has been instrumental in supporting Bohle in its approach to GQA to get the UV Bonding Unit written into its glass processing NVQ, also in quality assuring the standard of teaching.  

Paul Gray, Operations Manager The Vocational College, explains: “What Bohle had was a very good internal course. We have supported them in adding value to it by getting it formally accredited as an NVQ unit with GQA and offering quality assurances against it.

“Partnerships with industry are a really important part of what we do. It means that by definition, courses are highly tuned to the needs of industry, with a strong vocational focus but also the development of core skills, for example Maths and English, which are important in supporting the broader skills agenda.”

Mick Clayton CEO of GQA Qualifications added to the discussion “Training and development is key to success of people and business and it is important to recognise the skills that need to be brought to the table for good quality delivery. It’s fantastic to be involved in this initiative with Bohle and The Vocational College and we look forward to its success”

Bohle remains at the forefront of UV bonding technology. This includes the MV760 adhesive system which achieves a sheer strength load capacity of 25 newtons/mm2. It features specially developed spacer technology which supports glass processors in achieving the optimum bondline gap between metal and glass.

This focus on the development of technologies has also included Pyrosil, Bohle’s low surface tension metal to glass primer, which allows glass processors to achieve stable bonds even in humid environments.

The range of UV adhesives is complimented by a complete range of cleaning agents, pre-treatments and curing adhesives to UVA lamps, bonding tables, rigid fixing and clamping devices. This includes the new UVA Star UV bonding tube lamps, which deliver higher quality cures while at the same time reducing energy consumption.

Part of Bohle’s leading-edge Verifix UV bonding range, the new UV lamp range is can be used to bond lengths of glass of up to 1410mm.  The new ‘T8’ tube technology creates a high UVA output with a wave range of 315-400nm, operating from a power source of just 230 volts. 

“There is a lot of exciting technology out there, which will allow glass processors to push the boundaries of design and innovation. Understanding their safe application is the key which unlocks what is incredible potential”, says Amanda.

“Our new partnerships with the Vocational College and GQA represent a real and meaningful move toward closing the skills gap, as well as raising the industry’s profile and setting exemplary standard”, she concludes.

 

To find out more please email Amanda Carr, Amanda.carr@bohle.ltd.uk or call 0161 342 1100.  For general enquiries please contact the customer services team free on 0800 616151 or email info@bohle.ltd.uk .

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