By Edward Moss
When I started the year 1 qualification for my GAI Diploma, the end of year 3 looked a long way off - but the hard work was worth the wait!
The first year (Introduction to Hardware) concentrates on product knowledge, detailing all the products in the ironmongery industry from thumb latches to flush bolts and the associated technical information. It was a good start and gave me a useful insight into why there are so many products available and how you decide what product to use in each situation. You also consider all the fixings and why they differ from product to product, and also why we have so much stock in our warehouse! It has prompted me to look at every item when booking in and try to match them from my studies to where I would use them in a project. It also made me ask more questions and learn from my colleagues, “where would we use this?” or “how would we use this?”.
The second year (the Certificate of Architectural Hardware) was a more detailed look into how the ironmongery items were made and how all the internals worked. It opened my eyes to the law and finance side of ironmongery, and I found this part very enlightening as I have never considered this part of the business before. My mum runs this part of our business so it was very interesting to me to see what her day to day work included. This part of the course has helped me a great deal in my day to day work in responding to client emails and has helped me feel more confident in my position.
The final year (GAI Diploma) was by far the hardest part of the course, but also the most interesting. The diploma compiles all your studies into one final exam in which you bring all your learning together to complete a full ironmongery schedule for a specific building. The building I had was a rehabilitation and respite care facility for families. From the start of the brief, I immediately began thinking of all the different ironmongery products and why I would use them. Free swing door closers, door entry systems, vacant/engaged LED room signs and finger protection devices would all be obvious hardware worth considering in this building. I also had to complete a Master Key schedule, which was a really fascinating part of the exercise.
Looking back on what I have learned and the journey I have been on, I feel much more confident in the role I have in our company – whether it’s in the office or out on site with clients. I feel the GAI studies are an integral part of that and I would not be the same ironmonger today without it. I believe the studies will also help progress my career, as after achieving the GAI Diploma you are able to become a RegAI. This involves completing yearly tasks of being involved in CPD activities proving you are fully aware of the latest industry standards and regulations. Taking part in these CPD evenings you also mix with everyone else in the industry and share each other’s knowledge in solving ironmongery problems.