BFPA 2024 Yearbook & Members' Directory 2024 17 recognised as the accepted standard for our industry. These practices may not be a legal requirement like the Gas Safe Register; however, we need to continue our efforts to drive these standards, helping to keep workers safe and encouraging companies to remain compliant. Learning and Development Programme The progress and development of the BFPA’s training courses has gone from strength to strength. 2024 is the 26th year that the Association has provided training. Over the years of valuable input from our Education and Training committee and members, the BFPA courses have developed significantly. This has been of paramount importance. Our courses are based on the BFPA listening to its members and are reliant on the hard work of the Education and Training committee. The courses focus on syllabus content that addresses what our members flag as specific requirements for the fluid power industry. Along with the courses’ evolution, attendance rates have grown significantly. Three years ago, training represented approximately 17% of our annual revenue. During 2023, this increased to 38%. Last year, we also rebranded our courses as the BFPA Learning and Development Programme. Within this programme, we have what we refer to as vocational certification training and competencebased qualifications. To achieve that growth in attendee numbers, we needed to secure additional training personnel who were independent of the BFPA. This has resulted in increasing our footprint throughout the UK. We now have 26 training partners all in BFPA membership. The combination of our UK footprint and trainers who can travel to a customer’s own facility, provides options to companies wanting to invest in training, and potentially mitigate additional costs of travel, hotels whilst also reducing time away from the workplace. 2023 was a record year for the Association, with over 2000 people go through courses that are part of the BFPA Learning and Development Programme. This is a record for us. Attendees came from over 90 different companies, some of which are based as far away as South America, the Middle East and Asia as well as more local companies in the UK and Europe. This result is a true reflection of the hard work of Martin Kingsbury and Karen Gorden Brander. To further spread our wings globally rather than remaining UK centric, we have invested in a learning management system (LMS). Over time, this will provide us with the opportunity to offer more online digital training. Provided the funds are available, we plan to offer training in multiple languages to attract even more interest and uptake of our courses worldwide. We have already conducted online training in a few foreign languages, including sessions in Portuguese for 60 people from one large company based in Brazil, and the demand continues to grow. The language project is likely to be developed within a three-stage process. The first part of the process is getting our LMS fully up and running. We have already begun our internal training on the system, and the bulk of training activity during this year will comprise uploading, learning and launching the system. The second phase will then be to upload the training data that lends itself to online learning. Of course, there are aspects of training that cannot be done online and must be taught face-to-face, creating and building hydraulic or pneumatic circuits or hose assemblies. The third phase will be to look carefully at where we are attracting the greatest level of interest to determine what languages we should translate the courses into as a priority. While the courses are gaining more traction, one of the biggest challenges for us is finding more well-qualified and experienced people or member companies who can deliver this type of training. Just because you are a good hydraulics or pneumatics engineer or company, does not mean you are a good teacher. As the demand for fluid power training continues to grow, we are always keen to explore opportunities with new training partners. The skills gap. This leads on to another critical issue within our industry, namely the ongoing skills shortage. Our members and their customers are all quite aware that this is a considerable problem. They may currently have enough skilled personnel to get by. However, many people working within the fluid power industry are in their 50s or 60s, or even approaching retirement. The skills issue will be covered elsewhere within this edition of the Yearbook. However, we all know we need to attract a younger generation into our industry. There is no alternative. We need enthusiastic, talented young people to enter our industry, embrace it, get up to speed with established hydraulic, pneumatic and electromechanical technology and also take us forward in terms of digital transformation, even including artificial intelligence (AI), which is inevitably going to play more of a role in our industry, as indeed it will in just about every other walk of professional and social life. The younger generation has grown up with mobile phones and social media. Many also have an innate interest in all things digital and are therefore ideally suited to move the fluid power industry forward. However, first we need to attract them into the fold. In this regard, the Association, together with associate organisations such as Marvelous Manufacturing, is keen to encourage member companies to engage more with local schools, colleges and universities to ensure young students gain a better understanding of our industry and what it could offer them in terms of a rewarding lifelong career. Fortunately, a large number of our member companies are stepping up to the plate and are not only engaging with local education establishments but are also ‘growing their own’ skilled workforce. This will be key if we stand any chance of filling the skills gap. The alternative is to train the people they already have in other technical disciplines or seek to employ people currently working for competitor companies. The strategy of finding dedicated and talented young people by engaging with local educational institutions and guiding them through “Fluid power is the hidden force in manufacturing. It is a fantastic industry filled with thousands of talented people.”