James Frew Ltd is one of the largest privately owned building services companies in Scotland providing integrated building services, including plumbing, heating, mechanical services, micro-renewables, gas maintenance, and property upgrades for the public and private sectors, including design installation and maintenance.

The company operates from their headquarters in Stevenson, Ayrshire, covering all areas of Scotland.


James Frew believes the strength of the company is in its people and is committed to the training, health and safety of its employees.

Over half of the total workforce consists of fully qualified gas engineers who are each required to be certified; often multiple certifications per employee are required to practice.  The certification process requires each gas operative to undergo training and assessment of a core gas safety qualification in addition to various specialism qualifications relating to the nature of the work being undertaken.  These qualifications must be refreshed every five years and, in almost all cases, are not synchronised which leads to difficulties in the training schedule, increased training costs, and workforce planning issues through lost time and lack of continuity. 

For a business such as James Frew Ltd and its employees, compliance in this field is paramount and non-compliance threatens jobs and the security of the business.


Academic input was required as the project involved a strong focus on developing pedagogy for identifying training needs and linking these requirements to business process improvement; in particular, in bringing into the industry context tools that have been developed and are widely used in education but can be further developed to meet the needs of the business.

The company was awarded a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Innovation Voucher, administered by Interface, which gave it the opportunity to collaborate with West College Scotland to develop a new innovative training planning process, including the monitoring of certification renewals, development of individual training plans and the measurement of the impact of training through AMI (Achievement Measurement Indexing). 

“We are delighted to work with West College Scotland on the Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher and it has helped us align training plans and enhance our service offer”.  Roddy Frew, Managing Director.

“The SFC Innovation Voucher has allowed James Frew and WCS to positively collaborate to implement business improvements and develop more meaningful relationships that are mutually beneficial. In doing so, our staff at the college have been able to use this knowledge to work with other organisations to help them improve and enhance the products and services that they offer”.  Andrew Fogarty, Head of Energy and Engineering, West College Scotland

Dr Stuart Fancey, director of research and innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“The Innovation Voucher Scheme has been a huge success, linking hundreds of Scottish small businesses with universities’ expertise. Entrepreneurs growing their businesses have been able to develop their products in ways they would have struggled to do by themselves and I’m excited that this expertise now includes Scotland’s colleges as well as universities.”


Company – Through reduced costs and improved quality of training, this new process will provide business efficiency savings ensuring that James Frew Ltd continues to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-moving commercial market.  By enabling a more structured approach to developing people through training, the project will also impact on the motivation of staff and employee satisfaction.

College – West College Scotland will improve their service delivery in gas engineering and develop a greater understanding of the training needs analysis for the building services sector as a result of the collaboration. The project will also enhance understanding of industry within the College and support the development of processes that will make the College more responsive to business needs.


The project developed a process that identifies the need for early training interventions, determine more specifically exact training requirements and demonstrate measurable achievement in knowledge transfer.

The impact of the project will lead to improved training interventions that are linked to individual training plans and business process improvements.  In terms of outcomes and impact, it is envisaged that whilst improving the relevance of training interventions, significant cost savings and improved efficiency will be realised through a more planned and systematic approach to training.

By developing a more structured approach to developing people through training, the project will impact on the motivation of key staff and will increase employee satisfaction.

Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.