The last year at the CAI has been one fraught with complexity for its assessment and administration teams. Just over a year ago, City & Guilds accreditation was applied for against CAI education and skills training programmes. As the main industry training provider for our sector, national logo recognition has always been a major goal. 

The problem has always been our industry numbers have never been attractive enough to a major qualification provider in the national framework. Thankfully their scope has broadened to recognise that smaller organisations may represent some key players in our national economy – the supply of audio visual signal into the home being pretty fundamental to life as we know it.

After some major management and quality process re-vamping, the CAI proudly announced that its application for City & Guilds accreditation against 10 of its programmes had been successful. CAI education and skills now has a credible, nationally recognised logo against its courses.

On top of this came the preparation of a quality management system for becoming a ‘TrustMark Scheme Operator’. The internet is littered with trade recognition websites claiming to represent reputable, audited tradesfolk. Buyer beware – some of these web operators are ‘virtual organisations’ who simply relieve unsuspecting traders of cash in exchange for job leads. The credentials of some of these businesses are untraceable. TrustMark is a government-endorsed, quality mark which operates a framework under which 31 Scheme Operators oversee the repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector. 

The Schemes are administered by trade associations, trading standards teams, and independent Scheme Operators. These schemes are approved to carry the TrustMark logo and recruit reputable and trustworthy tradesmen. This enables the TrustMark Scheme Operators to promote improved RMI sector standards, tackling enforcement issues of competence and reputability. All Scheme Operators are audited annually by TrustMark, to ensure processes, standards and complaint procedures are being maintained. The CAI has just undergone its – hopefully successful – annual audit.

Both City & Guilds accreditation and TrustMark Scheme Operator status has seen CAI refine its work processes. The building of a ‘Quality Manual’ and the review of how we manage the CAI has taught us masses about how we organise ourselves. All too often businesses act like the lumberjack who struggles to cut down his quota of trees because he claims he is too busy to get his axe sharpened. We sell training on the basis that the educated are far quicker at solving issues and benefit from less time consumption on installation, making the investment in some training a no-brainer when it comes to securing more income.

On the easy-going side of life, a newly commissioned survey by the CAI saw a 57% increase in the number of successful member applicants during 2015 on the previous year. There were 33 new members last year, swelling the ranks of company members to 560. The installer company count rests at 480, which could represent over 5,000 engineers working in the audio visual market under the CAI logo. In turbulent industrial times the CAI is on a healthy growth path.

The CAI is pleased to be exhibiting at this years’ EI Live! at Sandown Park on stand 111. On hand will be membership secretary Charlene McCormack who can discuss all the benefits of joining the CAI and the assessment process. Charlene will also be able to talk through the benefits of joining the TrustMark Scheme and what it means for the CAI and its membership to now have 10 courses City & Guilds accredited.