In response to the lack of women and other under-represented groups in the building services engineering sector – less than 1% of tradespeople are female – leading Awarding Organisation (AO), LCL Awards has launched an Inclusivity Charter for its centres, to encourage them to take steps to make their training facilities welcoming places, with flexible course options to suit people from all walks of life.

The Charter has been developed with Hattie Hasan, founder of all-female plumbing business, Stopcocks Women Plumbers, who recently received an MBE for her services to women in the plumbing and heating industry. Hattie also introduced the Register of Tradeswomen last year, a not-for-profit organisation that connects householders with tradeswomen and helps survivors of domestic abuse to get into skilled trades.

Officially launched to LCL Awards centres at the end of April, those that sign up to the Charter must first review where they are in-terms of inclusivity – from not tolerating offensive language, to developing courses which can be delivered online and/or in the evening and at weekends to suit the needs of parents (as well as people fitting training in around the day job). This ‘Inclusivity Charter Checklist’ will form part of LCL Awards’ auditing process, which all its accredited centres must complete annually.

To introduce centres to the Charter, LCL Awards held an online CPD workshop alongside Hattie, which covered a range of important topics. Hattie delivered a session on unconscious bias, a subject that’s very pertinent in the trades as the assumption is largely that construction workers are male. Other areas covered included: dealing with conflict, flexible course delivery and representation – how centres can demonstrate their inclusive values through their websites and other marketing material.

Hattie Hasan, said: “Training is the first step in most people’s careers, so getting this bit right in terms of ensuring people feel they can move into a sector that might not be considered ‘the norm’ is crucial. This is why I was so keen to work with LCL Awards when they approached me.

“Having experienced first-hand sexism and ignorance when it comes to being a ‘female plumber’, making a difference at this grass roots level should have real impact. If women and other under-represented groups have a good experience in the training centre, they will start their careers with more confidence. An inclusive environment increases diversity in training centres, LCL Awards centres can attract more learners from more different backgrounds and help to dispel myths that trainees may have too.”

Tracy Harker, Quality Assurance & Relationship Manager for LCL Awards, said: “We are passionate about demonstrating how LCL Awards centres treat people with respect, while encouraging as many trainees through the doors as possible. The launch of our Charter cements these core values, creating a framework that centres can use to take active steps to implement inclusive practices.

“Ultimately, the UK is experiencing a skills shortage. There are countless opportunities in the building services engineering (BSE) sector – it’s an exciting industry at the forefront of change when it comes to future-proof, low carbon technologies. At the moment, the majority of BSE workers are white, male and middle aged. To move our industry forward we need more diverse inputs, which can only serve to improve the sector and society as a whole.”

Mark Krull, LCL Awards’ Director, said: “LCL Awards has an important and influential part to play in actively attracting new candidates to BSE trades, accommodating everyone who’d like to join us in the important and rewarding work we do. Our Charter has been designed to formalise requirements we’d expect from our training centres.

“We’re not playing lip-service here – centres who sign up to the charter will be expected to uphold high standards and will be audited. The Charter will become part of our equality module.”

LCL Awards centres that have met the conditions of the Charter and are continuously striving to improve the inclusivity of their training provision, will receive a plaque. Trainees can identify these centres through LCL Awards’ Inclusivity Charter logo. The Charter itself will be displayed in-centre and on websites.

LCL Awards Inclusivity Charter

  • LCL Awards centres are committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive environment where both learners and centre staff feel safe, heard and supported.
  • We do not tolerate offensive language, such as sexist or racist comments – from trainers or trainees.
  • We consider the needs of all learners, in order to enhance learning experiences and increase opportunity.
  • We are actively exploring a range of training options, using creativity and innovation to improve engagement.
  • Our ambition is to help as many people as possible access the building services engineering sector; to improve lives, improve the sector and combat skills shortages.
  • We believe that inclusion creates an environment where everyone is valued, feels valued and are therefore is able to achieve their highest potential.

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