Mike Andrews Chief Executive of NAPIT Group, reflects on the challenges and highlights of 2021 and looks ahead to the opportunities that 2022 has to offer.
This time last year I was looking ahead to 2021 and predicting a promising outlook for the repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector despite the prospect of further lockdowns and disruption as a result of the on-going COVID situation.
Whilst COVID undoubtedly remains a concern, the demand in the RMI sector seen over the past year, despite the increasing cost in building materials, tells a very promising and positive story for the industry. It aligns with our growth in membership, which has risen from 10,000 to 16,000 over the last 18 months as we have focussed on providing a consistently excellent offering for our members.
2021 has been a year of growth and development for NAPIT. Not only in our membership but also in the products and services that we provide to our members and to the wider industry. Since the acquisition of FastTest Certification Software from Trimble in November 2020, NAPIT FastTest has been developed to offer clients much wider, on-site & desktop usability through the management portal, re-designed Mobile Application, Cloud-sync functionality, and access to a wider range of certificates. In just 12 months, NAPIT FastTest is currently being used by over 1000 businesses to generate a wide variety of certificates and reports in the Industrial, Commercial & Domestic sectors.
The launch of our new online member preference centre, allowing members to choose how they wish to be communicated with and our Digital ID Card App enabling our electrical members to access their membership ID card on-the-go via their smartphones are two further examples of digital development work completed within 2021.
As well as digital advancements, 2021 has seen a step change in the wider industry focus on competence. The introduction of the September 2021 Electrotechnical Assessment Specification further tightened the entry criteria for businesses wishing to become registered with an Electrical Competent Person Scheme, the Minimum Technical Competence requirements for all Competent Person Schemes are under review by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Interim Industry Competence Committee was formed by the new Building Safety Regulator in anticipation of the Building Safety Bill gaining Royal Assent. We welcome this focus and stand by our position that individuals working alone, should under-go regular onsite, technical assessments of their competence. We continue to provide our support and expertise in these committees and reviews, and retain our focus on enhancing safety, compliance and competence throughout the sector.
With Net Zero being high on the political agenda this year, it was great to have our commitment to supporting installers in their bid to reduce carbon emissions through our certification solutions and training courses acknowledged by the Construction Leadership Council. Becoming a Construct Zero Business Partner allows us to support our members who wish to become Construct Zero Business Champions and collaborate with organisations throughout the sector to share ideas, values and strategies as well as providing an opportunity to celebrate achievements in the drive to reach net zero emissions. With the focus on the installation of heat pumps and electric vehicle charge points clearly set out in the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy and Net Zero Strategy, we expect to see a sharp rise in demand for training and certification in these areas into 2022 and beyond.
It’s been great this year to be able to host physical events and see our members face to face. Our NAPIT EXPO’s and presence at ELEX have been warmly received by customers and have given our team a boost. Looking ahead to 2022, we are gearing up to provide guidance to the electrical industry on the forthcoming Amendment 2 to the BS 7671 Wiring Regulations, due for publication in March 2022. This will be the focus of our NAPIT EXPO events in the New Year as we strive to deliver expert technical content and continue to support the on-going learning of our members.
As I look ahead to 2022, I do so largely with excitement. The previous 2 years have proved challenging, yet the construction sector remains strong. With the move to Net Zero carbon emissions at the forefront of Government policy, there is no doubt there will be an array of opportunities for additional growth, development and advancement within the sector. NAPIT are committed to supporting the construction industry. We will remain focused on delivering what our customers need and on making it easy for them to do business with us.