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Sector Information

The sector represents the following core industries:

  • air conditioning and refrigeration
  • electrical and electronic servicing
  • electrotechnical
  • heating and ventilation
  • plumbing
  • building services engineering consultancy

The sector comprises a diverse and continually expanding part of the UK economy covering a wide range of skills providing essential design, installation and maintenance services for industrial, commercial and domestic clients. The sector is represented by SummitSkills Sector Skills Council.

The UK’s building services engineering sector has an annual turnover of £16.2 billion (2005), rising to £17 billionn in 2007. The sector employs over 600,000 individuals in over 60,000 businesses.

There are a large number of small and micro-businesses within the sector with over 90% of businesses employing fewer than 10 people. The majority of these firms are small – 59% have five employees or fewer and less than 3% have more than 50 employees.

The pace of both technological change and globalisation will significantly alter the way business in undertaken.

Source: Summitskills Sector Skills Agreement All England final report 2008

Impact of the recession

In 2009, Building Services Engineering consultancy companies said that:

  • 66% had experienced increase in workforce in last five years.
  • 18% expect that workforce will increase over next twelve months, 29% expect a decrease and 53% predict no change.
  • In the medium to longer term, 50% expect an increase in workforce 2010-2011, growing to 64% who predict growth over a five year period to 2015. This prediction of growth is positive news for the future recruitment of graduates.

Source: Impact of the recession on the building services 2009

Future needs

  • Training is needed to meet skills deficiencies in environmental and renewables technologies across all the industries within the sector where current levels of activity are rising quickly and it is envisaged will rise further as the UK approaches the 2010 Kyoto performance assessment.
  • The globalisation is a real issue for the sector, particularly in relation to environmental technologies as German and Danish companies are already beginning to enter the market and approaching Government agencies looking for partnership agreements.
  • Management skills are needed in relation to competitor analysis, competitive advantage and formal benchmarking. This is preventing strategic thinking and is contributing to productivity issues.
  • The sector is in need of a fundamental overhaul of the current curriculum content and requires business focused in-company training to meet the needs identified.
  • The basic skills of new entrants appears, in the eyes of the sector, to be getting worse, with 57% identifying issues with literacy, numeracy and IT skills. 36% also have issues with the basic skills of existing staff.
  • The IT skills of experienced staff need to be improved to ensure productivity returns are maximized from capital investment in new technology.
  • Engagement in research, particularly with Higher Education Institutions, is needed to increase the innovative ‘value-added’ nature of what the sector offers in products and services to clients.

Source: Summitskills Sector Skills Agreement All England final report 2008