The UKAS accreditation awareness campaign is aimed at driving up levels of awareness across Government and all sectors of the economy as a result of continued support from BIS, greater engagement by accredited organisations and stakeholders, and additional internal UKAS resource.
During 2008-2011 the campaign has had a number of key achievements:
UKAS has made significant progress raising the awareness of accreditation across Whitehall. This has been achieved through many initiatives from senior level meetings, direct mailings of promotional literatures, inter and cross departmental workshops and presentations, as well as through press relations events.
Meetings, workshops and follow-up activities have taken place in a wide range of Government departments and agencies which have broadened the network of contacts, and positioned accreditation as a solution to either supporting or acting as an alternative to regulation. As a result of the campaign an increasing number of development proposals have been converted into accreditation schemes in support of Government policy.
Accreditation Matters, a periodic brochure aimed at policy advisors, is sent to civil servants via email distribution lists, as well as distributed through events and meetings, and to over 200 Editors of trade publications. Accreditation Matters is also placed on web-based Central Government Policy hub, the primary location of policy tools accessed by policy makers.
UKAS has regularly organised themed events to raise awareness of accreditation across Government. Think Tanks on ‘Risk, Responsibility and Regulation’, ‘Quality and Safety in Healthcare Provision’, and ‘Less Government – Better Outcomes’ have been well attended by senior officials, as well as enabling UKAS to generate new contacts. The annual AGM lunch has also broadened awareness and established new contacts. The annual reception at the House of Lords, hosted in collaboration with British Standards, provides policy makers across Government the opportunity to share ideas between departments. The receptions, themed ‘Innovation in the Public Sector’, ‘Standards – a Tool to combat the recession’ and ‘Delivering More for Less’, have attracted over 100 people representing 40 departments and agencies on each occasion.
UKAS has published several advertorials and articles in publications aimed at Policy makers on the key themes of Better Regulation and Innovation. Relationships have been made with the key publications in the sector, namely Civil Service World, and The New Statesman. This has provided UKAS with the opportunity to use political networking events, such as various receptions at the party conferences.
During the period, UKAS has made significant strides in raising awareness levels in the business community. This has been achieved though several routes, including through indirect channels such as business intermediary organisations, trade associations, partners, and industry networks, but also through direct engagement. UKAS has also benefited from greater support from the conformity assessment community.
UKAS has developed closer relationships with a growing number of business intermediary organisations. Closer relationships have been forged with the CBI, FSB, the IoD, the British Chambers of Commerce, and the Trade Association Forum to act as communications channels to the small business community.
The new UKAS website was launched in 2009 to provide clear information for both accredited organisations, but also for users of accredited services. Between 2008-2011, UKAS published a number of materials aimed at promoting the use of accreditation and accredited conformity assessment bodies. These involved brochures aimed at specific sectors, such as organisations in the criminal justice system, retailers and housing associations with a requirement to safely manage asbestos, operators that produce stack emissions, commissioners of health and social care services, and organisations requiring third party inspection activities.
UKAS has actively sought the involvement of accredited organisations to participate in the awareness campaign, as this provides UKAS with direct access to users and potential users of accredited services. This period has seen a greater number of UKAS customers and stakeholders organising workshops and events. Presentations given by UKAS have re-enforced the value of using accredited services in specific sectors. For example, a series of seminars run by Accelerate, provided UKAS the opportunity to present to over 500 procurement managers in the UK automotive sector. In collaboration with CLM, a large electrical safety inspection company, UKAS presented at six regional workshops attended by over 400 facilities managers and contractors.
To counter low UKAS awareness levels among duty holders responsible for the safe management of asbestos, UKAS presented at a large number of events attended by retailers, housing associations, and local authorities. These have included events organised by AEC, Noble, Shield, Lucien and Eurosafe, as well as numerous regional events organised by ATAC, BOHS and HSE. UKAS has also collaborated with a number of accredited inspection bodies seeking to raise awareness of accreditation through a thought leadership website. An online survey has also been circulated through business intermediaries and trade unions to promote the benefits of accredited surveying organisations.
In advance of the UK nuclear new build programme, UKAS has developed contacts with DECC, Rolls Royce, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, and the Nuclear Industry Association, to promote a better understanding of accredited inspection and certification. Four expressions of interests have now been received from accredited inspection bodies for inspection of equipment for the new power stations, and so a development project has been established.
Over the last three years, UKAS has worked closely with the Forensic Science Regulator to support his vision of introducing quality standards for all providers. To communicate this vision, UKAS has exhibited and spoken at a number of events such as the Forensic Society, the ACPO conference, and the National Fingerprint conference, as well as published articles in sector publications including Jane’s Review. UKAS also organised three regional workshops which were attended by forensic representatives from over 75% of the national Police Authorities.
In addition to events or exhibitions organised by business intermediaries or accredited organisations, UKAS has exhibited or spoken at many sector events. These have included stack emissions, waste water, IT security, trading standards, healthcare, off shore inspection, microbiology, food, and laboratory testing. Presentations have also been given at a number of KTN events.
The media and press remains a key channel for raising awareness of accreditation. UKAS continue to benefit from the services of an external PR agency, which has developed strong relationships with target publications. Over the past three years, UKAS has published over 350 articles, releases, and advertorials in the trade press. It has also provided one-to-one briefings with 8 publications ranging from the Grocer to the British Medical Journal.
This year, UKAS featured in Radio 4’s In Business. The programme, which focused on the origins and importance of standards, included an interview with Paul Stennett, UKAS Chief Executive.
UKAS has made progress raising awareness levels of accreditation to Local Authorities. A brochure aimed specifically at procurers in Local Authorities has been widely distributed in electronic format.
UKAS has continued to tap into existing best practice networks. For example, a national network consisting of representatives from across local government was established for staff involved in environmental management. UKAS presented to regional networks in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humber, East and West Midlands, South West, the South East and London, enabling UKAS to reach representatives from all 400 authorities in England.