Industry group updates the FESS Operative Assessments

Following recent updates made to the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) Operative Assessments by an industry working group, pass rates for FESS assessments have seen marked improvements.

An occupational qualification structure was developed by a sector working group in the FESS industry in 2018. This structure was developed to align with the future skills requirements of the FESS sector and the apprenticeship standard in England, addressing the fragmented skills within the current workforce. These changes were also brought in by a desire to professionalise the sector and meet the Construction Leadership Council’s move to ensure all CSCS Partner Schemes, such as ECS, are issued against a recognised qualification standard.

For those who have been working in the industry for a number of years without formal qualifications, it was agreed an assessment would be developed for a FESS Systems Operative to meet these sector requirements. The ECS FESS Operative assessments were launched in July 2021 and questions are aimed at a Level 2, covering aspects of installation, maintenance, and planning across each of the above pathways.

Concerned by a potential lack of clarity in the wording of some questions and lower than expected pass rates, the JIB contacted Industry representatives in 2021 to review the question banks and ensure the questions were correct, properly constructed, and clear for users.

The Industry Group reviewed the question banks and delegate guides. The following was agreed unanimously:

– The industry wants to raise the bar on standards, knowledge, and training for the sector. This meant the question banks would continue to test knowledge on the pathways to include aspects of installation, maintenance and planning relevant to roles and likely experience.

– To retain the FESS Operative Assessments as closed exams and not to make the question banks open access to the public to ensure necessary rigour.

– To add more questions to the banks over time.

– To update the delegate guide documents to better enable training providers and employers to undertake training prior to putting people through these assessments.

– More information and availability of training options would be promoted.

These new question banks went live in March 2022 and pass marks have improved in all areas. Further promotion of the relevant training routes, for the Operative Assessment and qualification routes, will continue to ensure relevant preparation and routes are available.

Barton Hoyle, Technical Training and Product Manager at Chubb systems, explains: “Chubb Systems and the broader Chubb organisation recognise that investing in employee development creates opportunities for employees to feel excited about learning, growing, and forming greater connections to learn new skills.

“Chubb is committed to training employees to clearly defined professional standards of operation and welcomed the chance to assist in both clarifying the FESS question bank and aligning it to appropriate industrial standards. Chubb recognises the value of ECS cards as a mark of professionalism and competence across the wider industry.”

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