British Fluid Power Association issues new minimum educational recommendations for the industry

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BFPA CEO Chris Buxton has announced the launch of a set of recommended minimum educational standards for anyone wishing to undertake practical work in the fluid power sector.

Skills shortfalls have been a challenge for the fluid power sector for the last decade. Regular surveys have shown that the shortage of suitably qualified staff has been one of the biggest obstacles to business growth since 2006. It is also apparent that the ever more stringent emphasis upon health and safety has been equally pervasive and both topics should be core to the business strategy of both manufacturers and distributors alike.

Buxton points to the fact that the two issues are linked. Health and safety is not just about following procedure, it is about awareness and education.  An employee with the right skills and training is inherently a safer employee and less likely to breach current health and safety regulations. More importantly, they are less likely to injure either themselves or a fellow worker. It was recognition of this fact, along with the alarming reality that any individual with a set of tools can currently claim to be a technical operative in the fluid power sector, that led members of the BFPA to instigate an Education & Training Task Force.  The task in question was to establish what it believes (as the recognized experts in the industry), should be the recommended minimum educational standards for anyone wishing to undertake work on fluid power equipment.

In meeting its objective, the task force engaged with a wide range of stakeholders including end users and the accreditation bodies and concluded that separate recommendations should be made for hydraulics and pneumatics technology along with a third portfolio of standards for the increasing use of electronic and systems control technology in fluid power systems.  The result will be a suite of three complimentary documents; each targeting one of the three primary areas of technology.

BFPA has now announced the release of the first of these documents – Minimum Educational Recommendations – Hydraulics. The document, available upon request from the BFPA, provides a platform from which a variety of training courses may be developed by recognized providers around the UK.  It is expected that these recommendations may represent the basis for developing a passport scheme for engineers in the sector and perhaps ultimately the foundations for a regulatory framework.  Work is now ongoing to develop a similar set of recommendations for the pneumatics sector. Electronic systems will follow.

As the trade association for fluid power, BFPA considers this work not only as an aspiration to increase educational and safety standards in the fluid power sector but as a duty to its members and the wider industry.

November 4, 2016

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Tom is editor of ivtinternational.com and iVT magazine. During his 20 year career in journalism Tom has worked for a diverse range of titles including Men's Health and Cosmopolitan. He also edits iVT's UKi Media & Events stablemate Traffic Technology International.

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