The SJIB and SELECT have warned that training must remain on a national level – and insist it is essential to take a “one nation” approach to ensure skills, standards and safety are consistent everywhere across Scotland and the UK
Localised training has been suggested as a ‘quick fix’ for teaching would-be electricians new skills, but both bodies say such routes are restrictive and not practical for what is traditionally a transient workforce.
The SJIB and SELECT insist the industry should be looking at the bigger picture when it comes to standards in a sector which is now crucial to society’s future – not taking a narrow view that is no good for the learner or the wider industry.
Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB, said: “With emerging technology developing and being adopted at an ever-increasing rate, it is vital to equip the talent of tomorrow with a broad range of in-depth skills to work across the whole of the UK – and beyond.
“As the electrification of society continues to become a reality, the professionalism and technical expertise of electricians demands a one-nation approach, not piecemeal localised training which simply doesn’t meet the standards and quality that the industry strives for.
“Restrictive local routes do little to enhance the skills or prospects of the coming generations of electrician or enable the freedom of movement of highly-trained, competent and safe-working trades people.”
Ms Harper, who is also Director of Employment & Skills at SELECT, said it was vital that the sector continued to promote and follow national routes, adding: “In Scotland, we manage training through the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) to ensure quality, standards and safety are consistent and to ensure apprentices can pass the industry’s assessment of competence, the Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA).
“We also work with colleagues across the other UK nations to ensure that same standard and quality is maintained to enable free movement and highly trained, safe-working electricians.
“Localised training claims to be meeting the needs of local communities, but the existing system already does that far more efficiently. Through SECTT, the SJIB national training programmes engages with 21 local colleges across Scotland, including the islands.
“By feeding the colleges with local learners, we aim to have apprentices employed and trained in the communities in which they live– and also equipped with the skills they need if they ever wish to broaden their horizons.”
The appeal to maintain a national perspective comes during another healthy year for electrical training, with more than 900 learners enrolling for the 2023-24 intake following similarly high numbers in 2021 and 2022.
Ms Harper added: “As well as a high intake, current FICA pass rates are also at an encouragingly high level, showing the effectiveness of the current system and how well it works on a national level. Retention and completion rates are also high, showing that young learners are realising the value of taking a wider one-nation view.”