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Q & A with David Greenwood, FRC Registrar

Category: Farriery Industry

Added 6th August 2015. Updated 24th March 2016

Our thanks to David for taking the time to answer questions from farriers via our Facebook group.

1. What attracted you to the position of Registrar at the Farriers Registration Council?

Response:
I was seeking an appointment where I felt I might make a difference; my research showed that farriery had been through a difficult period in the last two years and that there was a real job of work to be done in making the post-NFTA operating model work. Earlier in my professional career I have held appointments that planned and delivered regulation, so the challenge was not unfamiliar.


2. Why is it that a farrier can't be registrar? Where is the position advertised?

Response:
There is no reason why a farrier cannot apply for the position of Registrar and the position is normally advertised through a variety of media, print and online, and both locally and nationally. That said, it is recognized as best practice, both in UK and elsewhere, for a regulator not to be a member of the profession he or she regulates. The reason for this is so that the regulator may hold the confidence of those that are reliant upon regulation being effective – in this case equine owners on behalf of their equines, and the general public. While I have no doubt that there are farriers who possess the knowledge, skills and experience to be a regulator, any suggestion that the regulator was under the influence of the profession would erode confidence in the eyes of those who rely upon effective and efficient regulation. I offer some parallel examples by way of illustration:
The Registrar of the RCVS is not a Vet.
HM Inspector of Prisons is not a Prison Officer.
HM Inspector of Constabulary is not a Police Officer.
The Chief Executive of OFGEN is not an employee of a power generation company, etc.

3. From what you have seen so far, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the industry?

Response:
I see three principal challenges for the industry:
(1) GB stands alone in regulating farriery in the EU; some outside the profession see no need for regulation, many inside the profession do. So we shall have to be prepared to ‘make the case’ for regulation if and when a challenge is made; I sense this is more about when rather than if.
(2) The profession, through the Farriery Apprenticeship Steering Group (FASG), is currently designing the future farriery apprenticeship under the Trailblazer 4 programme. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the work; the profession has, in effect, a clean sheet of paper on which to design, pretty much, what it wants by way of an Apprenticeship. The product of this work will shape farriery apprenticeships for at least the next ten years – we simply have to get it right.
(3) I sense that the profession is still adjusting to the post-NFTA landscape, there remains in the minds of some a lack of clarity as to who is responsible for what – particularly in the planning and delivery of apprentice training. This needs to be put right, those who have been made responsible for delivery of key functions and outputs must be held to account for them.

4. How do you feel you can make a positive impact on the industry?

Response:
The regulator must carry out the core tasks that are mandated by law so the industry is seen to be compliant, and thereby hold confidence and maintain its reputation; the core tasks are registration, accreditation, investigation and discipline. In the short time I have been in post I have observed that there is a minority of farriers – a very small minority at that – who seem to flout the law and the regulations, and seem not to care about the effect upon the reputation of their profession. This is not acceptable and, rightly, the vast majority of farriers who go about their business in a lawful and professional manner expect better. The regulator, therefore, must bear down on those who damage the reputation of farriery.

5. Farrier numbers are becoming saturated in certain areas of the UK, this is driving down prices and quality of work, how are the FRC going to control this issue? Suggestion - one apprentice per ATF at any one time would reduce numbers and improve quality of training.

Response:
Many people suggest to me that there are too many farriers, just as many equine owners say to me that they cannot find a farrier – so the assertion that there are too many farriers is but one side of an argument, and the assertion is not supported by objective evidence. To know that there is too many farriers one first has to know how many is enough. It is, in fact, not for the regulator to decide how many farriers is enough; it is for the profession (the WCF is the body that constitutes the Head of the Profession) to decide how many farriers it requires from training to sustain the profession at an adequate level taking into account retirements etc. Market forces will prevail on matters of price; in my observation quality of workmanship and quality of service will prevail, and those who provide poor workmanship and poor service will, over time, be squeezed out. Bad workmanship or dangerous practice is very much the business of the regulator; the FRC relies upon bad or dangerous practice being reported promptly and in sufficient detail to permit investigation and perhaps disciplinary action. I am not convinced that an arbitrary cap on the numbers of apprentices per ATF will help; in my observation it is the quality of the ATF that is key. Those ATFs with a good reputation and track record (both as instructors and employers) will attract apprentices; those with poor track records and commensurate reputations will not. Market forces will also drive the number of apprentices an ATF might take on and, ultimately, self-regulate the numbers of farriers.

6. How many farriers have retired and how many died how many deregistered in the last 4 years? How many have qualified in the last 4 years and what number of farriers do you think thinks should be trained per annum to maintain farriery needs in the UK?

Response:
I have already offered a view on numbers above. You may know that the issue of the number of apprentices required to sustain the profession is a key strand of the Trailblazer 4 work being taken forward by the FASG.

7. Are we currently training too many apprentices?

Response:
This is a repeat of an earlier question; to say that there are too many one first has to know how many is enough. It is for the Head of Profession (the WCF) to set a requirement for trained apprentices to sustain the industry. Additionally ATFs have the power to influence the number of farriers and apprentices by self-regulating dependent on market forces.

8. After 34 years of paying retention the fee, I feel there should be open debate on scaling down retention fees for long standing registration (I earn far less money these days, due to slowing up though age but still have to pay full fee).

Response:
We already have a scale for Retention Fees, those aged over 65 pay a reduced rate currently equal to half the annual Retention Fee. I am sympathetic to this view but to construct a broader system that is age-weighted is not simple and would have to contain safeguards to prevent abuse.

9. Do you think it’s time for farriers to take control of the professions future and establish a new and revived Act and a more farrier orientated Council? Wouldn't it be better to have a senior and junior Registrar? - the senior to have farriery background, the junior to be more administrative?

Response:
The Act is subject to ongoing, continuous review although this does not develop at any great speed. Consultation with Government takes place approximately every ten years, and the last consultation round took place in 2013. The FRC continues to work to advance the progress amendments to the Act and regularly issues updates on progress via the FRC Bulletin.
It is important to be clear about what the FRC is for: the FRC exists to provide regulation of the profession through registration, accreditation, investigations and discipline. And it is worth setting out again who relies upon efficient and effective regulation of farriery:
(1) The Equine – who has no voice and for whose protection the Act was brought into law.
(2) The Equine Owner – who has a legitimate and reasonable expectation that registered farrier he or she chooses to employ is competent; and,
(3) The Public – who have a legitimate and reasonable expectation that registered professions are regulated in accordance with best practice.
Six of the sixteen members of Council are farriers (37.5%) and a further two are Vets; so a total of 50% of Council is made up of members of the profession and Veterinary colleagues. The remaining eight are found from bodies that have a direct, professional interest in the regulation of farriery: the WCF; Lantra; the British Horseracing Authority; RSPCA, Scottish Enterprise and the British Equestrian Federation.
You ask specifically about control of the future of the profession; this is of course the business of the WCF who are the body that constitute the Head of the Profession, so I would encourage farriers to engage with the WCF to advance their views and ideas for improvement. You will know also that the BFBA exists to represent and advance the views of working farriers.

10. We have recently heard that a number of ATFs have been ‘struck off’ through not paying their ATF registration fee although we know of some still training who haven’t paid theirs. Why is this?

Response:
Eleven ATFs failed to re-register as farriers and as such were removed from the Register; this of course negated their ability to continue as an ATF. Any farrier conducting apprentice training who is not on the ATF list published on the FRC website should be reported to the FRC immediately.

11. Why has Compulsory CPD for every registered farrier not been introduced yet and become mandatory?

Response:
Since 1st Jan 2013 it has been mandatory for all ATFs to complete CPD each year. With effect from 1st Jan 2016, it will be mandatory for newly qualified farriers to complete CPD annually. Over time this will lead to a position where all farriers are undertaking CPD.

12. Can the CPD points be published on the register for each farrier?

Response:
Recording of CPD points is personal to individual farriers and such information is subject to protection under the Data Protection Act.

13. I shoe mainly race horses and I love doing this therefore I have little need for shoe making and find it hard to find enough seminars/lectures relevant to my business to make up 10 points a year without repeating the same ones each year.

Response:
As described in the December 2014 Bulletin and the Farriers CPD Guide, CPD focuses on a range of activities which help you to improve as a professional farrier or employer. Examples of activities include:

  • Learning knowledge and skills at conferences, seminars and on courses.
  • Self-directed learning including reading, writing or undertaking research on advances in farriery or veterinary science.
  • Study for advanced qualifications.
  • Learning with others e.g. talking to colleagues or going to workshops.
  • Acquiring new business skills, including customer service, information technology, employment law, financial understanding, health & safety.
  • Acquiring teaching skills through courses or qualification.

CPD should be relevant to the individual undertaking the learning and should enhance their professional knowledge and standards.
Many organisations provide opportunities for courses, webinars etc. Many farriers are self-employed businessmen or businesswomen for which the following are examples of non-farriery related events that could be considered as CPD if relevant to the individual:
Health & Safety courses and webinars;
HMRC employers webinars (no charge);
HMRC company tax webinars (no charge);
Employment agencies and solicitors sponsored Employment Law seminars;
Accountancy firm sponsored payroll and budget seminars;
Software organisations provide training courses in specialist areas for example finance, payroll and stock management.

14. The feeling of the farriery professionals I come across and speak to, is fairly low at present in relation to the current situation with how the profession is run, educated/trained and to a point on that conducts itself. What exactly does you see as the current issues within and challenging the profession and how or what part in that would you try to change?

Response:
This is, to some extent, a repeat of an earlier question. I see three principal challenges to the industry:
(1) GB stands alone in regulating farriery in the EU; some outside the profession see no need for regulation, many inside the profession do. So we shall have to be prepared to ‘make the case’ for regulation if and when a challenge is made; I sense this is more about when rather than if.
(2) The profession, through the Future Apprenticeship Steering Group (FASG), is currently designing the future farriery apprenticeship under the Trailblazer 4 programme. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the work; the profession has, in effect, a clean sheet of paper on which to design, pretty much, what it wants by way of an Apprenticeship. The product of this work will shape farriery apprenticeships for at least the next ten years –we simply have to get it right.
(3) I sense that the profession is still adjusting to the post-NFTA landscape, there remains in the minds of some a lack of clarity as to who is responsible for what – particularly in the planning and delivery of apprentice training. This needs to be put right, those who have been made responsible for delivery of key functions and outputs must be held to account for them.
I encourage any farrier who may be dissatisfied with any aspect of the leadership and management of the profession to engage with their representatives on the FRC – the elected farriers. And, of course, to consider standing for election to the FRC Council, where they may make a difference in a positive sense.