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News

The Case For Regulating Locksmiths

Master Locksmiths Association : 24 October, 2011  (Company News)
The Master Locksmiths Association enters the debate on whether the industry should be regulated or not within the UK
The Case For Regulating Locksmiths
The announcement of the Master Locksmiths Association’s (MLA) ambitions to develop a nationally recognised locksmithing qualification and apprenticeship framework has led to much industry debate.

There has been a great deal of discussion over the perception of the locksmithing profession and much debate about what this national qualification will mean for practicing locksmiths on a day-to-day basis.

Hoping to answer some of the questions raised, Dr Steffan George, development director for the MLA explains why the association believes a national qualification is a step in the right direction for the industry and why it feels locksmiths should support the Association’s ambition.

Commenting on the development of a locksmithing national qualification Dr Steffan George said: “We have been working with the security sector skills body Skills for Security (SfS) for months now to spearhead the development of a nationally recognised qualification to help legitimise the locksmithing profession, raise standards and boost perception of locksmithing as a skilled trade.

“I’m sure most locksmiths will have come across customers that have passed comment about paying a perfectly reasonable fee for a job they claim ‘didn’t look that difficult’.  Although a lot of industries will come across this same issue it also indicates the misconception many of the public have of locksmithing with many perceiving the trade as more of a ‘job’ in oppose to the reality of it being a skilled profession.

“In many instances customers do not understand the years of training and level of skill required to become a professional locksmith and take the services provided for granted.  Although something might look ‘easy’ to them, in reality the thought and understanding behind the actions taken by a locksmith are not simple, and with every job individuals apply their expertise and use their knowledge to provide a valuable service.

“It can be argued that customers sometimes don’t consider the fact that a locksmith has had to train and practice for years to build up their skill levels.  Neither do they consider the fact they are constantly learning how to use new products and about complex regulations in order to provide them with the best possible advice and service.

“The MLA feel a national qualification that recognises a minimum standard of achievement and is instantly recognisable to the public and fellow locksmiths will go a long way towards combating these misconceptions and raising the profile of the profession.

Locksmithing as a career

“As the UK’s biggest locksmithing trade association we are constantly striving to ensure minimum levels of skill and ethics exist in the trade.

“Sadly we’re increasingly seeing a number of training courses that promise would-be locksmiths a £60,000 salary after just two days training.  Although we all know locksmithing can be a rewarding career it is by no means the “get rich quick” industry that some training providers seem to portray it as.

“A national qualification will help combat this problem through a new regulation system whereby awarding bodies will require training bodies to meet minimum criteria such as adequate premises and hands on experience for trainers.  This in turn should help raise standards and address the issue of people attending training courses and then shortly thereafter setting themselves up as trainers – a bugbear of many in the industry.

“In addition, a national qualification is also expected to help employers gain a better understanding of the competency of staff they may be looking to employ so it not only helps with public perception but also within the industry itself.

Apprenticeships

“In addition to supporting those established in their careers the development of a national qualification will lead to the creation of a formal apprenticeship framework which currently does not exist.  This would enable employers to gain funding for training their apprentices (subject to certain criteria) and provide locksmiths with an excellent, solid introduction into the world of locksmithing.

“We’ve all seen the headlines about the Government’s intentions to create more apprenticeships in the coming years. To add to this we have seen MLA members struggling to find new staff, wanting to be able to take on apprentices but not being able to currently do so.  This not only reaffirms our belief that there is demand for such training but we feel this clearly shows that the locksmithing industry is proud to support young people wanting to enter into the profession.

Misconceptions

“As with all initiatives of this nature we are aware of some concerns regarding the national qualifications and believe it is important to address a few misconceptions out there about the project as early as possible.

“Firstly, despite marketing claims by some providers, at the moment there are no nationally recognised qualifications available to locksmiths. Currently only tailored awards exist so this qualification will hold a unique position in the marketplace.

“Secondly a nationally recognised qualification is just that – nationally recognised.  It is not something that a group / association / training provider can hijack for themselves or for their exclusive benefit and although the MLA is funding the qualification it will be open to all locksmiths and we will not have sole delivery of it.

“Any qualifications will also be optional, so it doesn’t mean that those who’ve been in the industry for a while will have to take the exam although they are of course welcome to do so.  Developing a national qualification will go a long way towards helping the public understand the skills required to be a locksmith and it will highlight genuine industry desire for appropriate regulation, accountability and raising standards, which can only be a good thing.

“We are delighted to have received some fantastic feedback from MLA members, non-members, manufacturers and stakeholders about the positive impact they feel a nationally recognised qualification will achieve and greatly appreciate all of the support we have received to date.

“Whilst establishing a national qualification may be one small step, it is hopefully the start of something bigger for the industry at large.  It won’t clear up all the issues faced overnight but we have to start somewhere and we believe this is the way to move forward.

“In the same way that the National Occupational Standard was a stepping stone towards establishing a nationally recognised qualification, the qualification itself will be a stepping stone towards creating the apprenticeship framework, which in-turn will see this whole process move another step towards any potential future regulation of the industry – whether that be Government or industry led.”
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