Service with a practical purpose

Published:  07 July, 2010

After the drama surrounding the hike in the price of MOLs, the IoBM is well placed to set the agenda for the practical training the merchant industry so desperately needs. In the run-up to the organisation’s 41st AGM, Andrew Pine talked to Lisa Arcangeli about why ongoing personal development is vital for the industry.

“I have always been very fortunate throughout my working life to have worked for individuals and organisations that have been keen to support my ambitions to further my career and personal goals” says Andrew Pine, vice- president of the Institute of Builders’ Merchants.

One year on in his role at IoBM and Mr Pine is acutely aware that the Institute faces a number of difficult tasks and several tough decisions in order for the Institute to grapple effectively with the decline in membership and rebuild itself from the ground up.

“We must have an offer that is fit for purpose for the current industry and for its future and potential membership,” he states.

“Our key purpose is to be the professional training standards body for the industry to lead the charge towards professionalism for individuals. To commission appropriate training and then to oversee that training’s accreditation.”

“What the IoBM must do is take a lead in setting the ‘self-development’ agenda, looking at where there are gaps in the current offering,” he continues. “Among these gaps are practical elements of training.”

“Of course, the Builders’ Merchants Federation remains the training delivery mechanism,” says Mr Pine.

“Therefore, we are fortunate to have Chris Pateman, the managing director of the BMF, as a very proactive governor of the Institute. IoBM wants to engage the industry into a wider dialogue. “We want to see the resurrection of the branch network,” he explains.

Now that the Government has pulled the plug on its funding of MOLs, it has left the industry in a tricky position.

Stand up and be counted

“Of course, there will be measures in the short-term to ensure that individuals complete their modules, but going forward, we want to stand up and be counted as the body that is in the driving seat for industry training standards,” Mr Pine says.

Andrew Pine.

The BMF will retain its remit for company staff training. “What is essential in this current climate is that individuals take responsibility for their own self-development and their own performance. This adds a continuous professional development side to the industry.”

IoBM, Mr Pine argues, must look at what is available on the market and pull all the strands together regarding accreditation so that employers can see consistency in training across the board. Individuals will be able to work in a structured way and to monitor their own progress.

The ultimate aim, he says, is for merchant training to emerge with the IoBM badge on it. “We are an independent body. We are not linked to a buying society or to a particular merchant company.

“Funds exist within our industry. These could be used to commission our future objectives,” Mr Pine states. And, he is certain that given the right kind of application, these funds will be made available. The ultimate aim is to become a chartered institute, “but that’s a long way off”, he states.

More pressing is the updating of the IoBM’s website. “We should be the industry reference point from both a training and personnel point of view,” he says.

The builders’ merchants industry has changed dramatically over the years, thanks to the number of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place.

“Our industry is still fragmented,” Mr Pine admits.

“It is also becoming increasingly more technical, thanks to ongoing regulations. People working within the industry need to respond to these changes and we need to be able to give them the tools with which to help themselves.”


This article first appeared in the April edition of Builders' Merchants News magazine.

The Institute’s TT Challenge day brought vital team-building skills to a number of young merchants.

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