The power of three

Three lead bodies are spearheading a structured approach to quality in roofing. Build UK, National Federation of Roofing Contractors and Single Ply Roofing Trade Association are all helping our industry step up to the mark on skills and training, raising standards for the long term.

The health of any industry depends on the quality of the workforce that supports it. We are fortunate in roofing, in addition to a wealth of experienced roofers, to have three key institutions, as well as a number of leading businesses such as SIG Design Technology collectively driving forward standards so the industry can thrive. And, judging by the state of the sector today, they are doing a pretty good job of it.

Current confidence in construction is such that it’s estimated there will be 31,000 new jobs in the industry every year for the next five years. That’s roughly equivalent to the population of Slough! Added to that the average income for construction workers in 2015 was £44k – almost £20k above the national average. Those entering the industry can also earn while they learn with 22,500 apprenticeship starts in 2014/15.

To sustain standards takes dedication and expertise in equal measure. Here’s how these three industry bodies are working to recruit, retain and upskill through training and raising standards…

Launched in September 2015, Build UK is a strong collective voice for construction clients, main contractors and 11,500+ specialist contractors. Its 5 point action plan details the issues it aims to address to achieve lasting improvements in construction:

• Industry image – working to improve the image of construction among young people and tackle the skills shortage. Build UK focusses on inspiring young people and those looking for a change of career to choose construction, whilst at the same time motivating the workforce to stay within the industry.
• Training and skills – aiming to ensure training and qualifications meet employers’ needs and that sufficient employment and apprenticeship opportunities are available to maintain a skilled and professional workforce. The body specifies and promotes CSCS schemes and states that the training standard is a CDM requirement. Endorsing the HSE’s view on over-reliance on industry cards, it reassures employers of the value of NVQs and SVQs.
• Pre-qualification for the supply chain – developing and implementing a solution to improve the current process of pre-qualification that meets the needs of clients and other stakeholders.
•Health and safety improvements – identifying where common standards will significantly improve H&S performance and addressing some long-standing customs to eliminate waste and demonstrate the value of sharing best practice in reducing accidents and ill health. The Build UK Safety Helmet Colours Standard has been adopted by main contractors, specialist contractors and clients.
• Fair payment practice – bringing together the contracting supply chain to consider what best payment practice in construction looks like and the appropriate business models that will result in a thriving construction industry capable of delivering the necessary infrastructure and built environment across the UK.


Established in 1892, the NFRC has over 1000 roofing contractor members and 180+ supplier members (manufacturers, merchants and service providers). It develops vocational qualifications and secures funding via CITB to develop training programmes for members and offers technical expertise with a freely available, comprehensive technical library.

NFRC quality initiatives include the operation of a strict code of practice and vetting, adherence to Government endorsed TrustMark Standards, support for the CompetentRoofer Scheme for roof refurbishment and hosting the UK Roofing Awards.

NFRC has a well-proven commitment to roof training and education through their relationships with colleges, Regional Roof Training Groups, committees across the industry, joint initiatives with CITB and their skills competitions (SkillBuild and IFD World Championships for Young Roofers).

The breadth of the training and partnerships the NFRC provides means that it’s an invaluable resource, both for young people looking to get into the industry and for experienced roofers looking to build on existing skills.

SPRA is the centre of excellence for the £350 million, 6.5m m2 single ply sector. It’s a supply chain partnership of membrane manufacturers, specialist component suppliers and contractors which sets technical standards and audit requirements.

SPRA’s services include free technical guides, component standards and telephone advice. The association is the intellectual property holder of apprenticeship and upskilling training courses and operates as the lead organisation for sector product data templates and BIM objects.

SPRA offers high quality specialist training programmes leading to accredited qualifications for the single ply industry from levels 2 to 6. SPRA members benefit from reduced rates and CITB registered companies can also access CITB grants.

SPRA also works with their members to approve their training for the Basic Competency Programme (BCP), which can be the first step to an installer achieving a full level 2 Single Ply qualification.

Thanks to these three organisations roofing looks like it is in good hands. It’s important to remember, however, the great work that many companies also contribute to raising standards in the industry. For example SIG Design Technology’s DATAC accredited contractors’ scheme supports roofers up and down the country. Part of the national construction training programme, the company’s ten year-old Roofing Academy runs about 100+ courses annually, upskilling over 400 installers a year to install their products.

It’s schemes such as this and the hard work of so many people involved in roofing that is helping contractors keep such high standards and create a healthy industry ready for whatever the future brings.

SIG Design Technology