25 February 2013 by Ian Gurling, FIA Awarding Organisation Manager

A bad pun, I know, but it sums up a broad problem.

If you're aware that the National Occupational Standard (NOS) for Electronic Security Systems has successfully undergone its periodic review, been accredited by UKCES and that it includes detail for electronic systems in the fire sector as well as security, raise your hand. If you’re not familiar with any of these points you’re certainly not alone.

National Ocupational Standards Logo

To clarify, NOS are a set of standards drawn up by Sector Skills Councils in consultation with industry practitioners that aims to set out the knowledge and skills required for an individual to do their job. They are relatively broad brush in both the range they cover and their detail but provide a common starting point for qualification setting, training needs analysis and career development planning. The problem is that much of the industry which NOS serves is entirely oblivious to its existence. As a result without justification, particularly through use, the will to maintain NOS will wane until eventually it is discontinued.

Now, there will be many out there who say if we’re not using it anyway, where’s the problem? In short the main user of NOS are the awarding organisations setting qualifications for vocational and higher education. Without NOS we wouldn’t have a common understanding of what job roles require.  Without NOS we wouldn’t have NVQ or QCF qualifications, in turn no apprenticeship.

Without NOS training providers will either have to draw industry consultation groups together, increasing costs, or rely on in-house levels of knowledge and understanding, reducing the quality of learning available.  Without NOS job descriptions would be locally subjective making it harder for both employers and employees to fill vacancies.