In the trade

Trade Associations

There are a number of professional bodies / governing bodies / trade associations that exist to help and support tradespeople. Here I focus mainly on Trade Associations, however the lists provided below incorporate all unique types supporting tradespeople.

What is a Trade Association?

You may be wondering what Trade Associations can do to help tradespeople. Are they worth the yearly membership fees? What will you get out of them? Trade Associations are formed from a membership of companies operating in a particular area of industry. They exist for their members’ benefit and perform a number of services:

  • Lobbying with government on regulatory issues
  • Providing advice and general support
  • Holding meetings, workshops and seminars
  • Enabling networking and the exchange of information and ideas
  • Publicising safety messages
  • Acting as a research centre
  • Developing guidance documents based on members’ experience
  • Monitoring industry developments likely to affect members’ businesses
  • Promoting health & safety, environmental & technical advancements

Joining a Trade Association

For tradespeople , being a member of a reputable Trade Association is usually an asset, but how do you know if the Trade Association is reputable? They all vary in practice so membership is not necessarily a guarantee of quality service.
Becoming a member of a Trade Association is usually available to tradespeople active in the relevant industry, by application, a process of acceptance and payment of a fee. However it should be noted that Trade Associations operate in different ways, with different qualifying criteria. For example, some Trade Associations may only admit tradespeople who have been strictly vetted for quality workmanship, sound business and health and safety practices before becoming a member. It’s therefore important to research and understand these variations.
A Trade Association is non-profit-making and the fees are intended to cover the necessary expenses of operation.

Trade Associations & the Government

A Trade Association does not regulate in the way that legislators do. They provide guidance to members and work to update and introduce new guidelines wherever the need arises. Members work to those guidelines by way of ‘self-regulating’.
Governments provide a basic structure of legislation to deal with a range of issues in the public interest. The government cannot afford time to produce detailed legislation for every part of an industry’s operations and therefore the role of the Trade Association is important.
Self regulation is also far easier to implement quickly and to change than government legislation and with technology advancing rapidly this flexibility can be a vital benefit.
There are lots of great Trade Associations out there providing a service to both tradespeople and consumers.

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