SJIB skills specialist Fiona Harper is appointed asnew SECTT CEO

The Secretary of the SJIB, Fiona Harper, has been appointed to take over the running of the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT), the approved training scheme for the country’s electrical apprentices.

The construction industry skills specialist, who is currently Director of Employment & Skills at SELECT in addition to her SJIB role, will assume the position of CEO on April 1.

She will succeed Anne Galbraith, who is stepping down after more than a decade of overseeing the development of electrical apprentices and adult trainees across Scotland and whose reign has seen record numbers of young electrical learners coming through.

Fiona has an unequalled track record, including creating SELECT’s industry training strategy and liaising with UK and Scottish politicians and civil servants on trade union and skills and qualifications issues.

She said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been offered this enormous opportunity and I look forward to the challenge of continuing the great work which has been carried out under Anne’s confident guidance in recent years.

“SECTT is now established as the premium provider of electrical apprentices, working in close partnership with SELECT, the SJIB and Unite the Union in the long-term interests of this crucially important industry.

“We must now ensure that we keep seeing record numbers of young people signing up for rewarding careers and make sure we have a steady pipeline of well-trained talent emerging to safely cater for a society in which the future is so clearly electric.”

SECTT manages high quality training on behalf of the SJIB, ensuring standards and safety are consistent to ensure apprentices can pass the industry’s assessment of competence, the Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA).

Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT, said: “Everyone here would like to thank Fiona for all the hard work, dedication and expertise she has brought to her time with SELECT and we wish her well in her new role at SECTT.

“Training is of vital importance and the enormous contribution SECTT is making to the quality and professionalism of the electrical industry in Scotland is unquestioned.

“The Modern Apprenticeship remains the only route to becoming a properly qualified  electrician – there are no short cuts. SECTT performs a huge role in delivering the SJIB  apprenticeship and we know Fiona will continue to grow and develop the programme.”

Scott Foley, Chair of the SECTT Board of Trustees and Regional Officer at Unite the Union,said: “Fiona is a respected industry professional who has already made a major contribution to training and skills in Scotland, and we are very happy to welcome her to SECTT.

“We already enjoy a close relationship through her work with SELECT and the SJIB and look forward to working together to shape the future of apprentices and adult trainees in Scotland.”

Changes to the ECS Health, Safety and Environmental Assessment

Introduction of the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) Assessment

Introduction of new Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) cards

New Scottish Apprenticeship Week video celebrates commitment to green skills

The SJIB says the electrical industry is leading the way with skills and training to help power the technology of tomorrow – and is urging others to follow in the sector’s footsteps to ensure Scotland makes a successful transition to net zero.

Ahead of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the body has released a new video with SELECT and the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) that reinforces the range of renewable training undertaken by apprentices.

The film shows how young electricians are receiving a thorough grounding in a wide range of green skills to enable them to cater for our future heat and power needs, including working with electric vehicles, battery storage, solar panels, air source heat pumps and more.

But the bodies also insist that the government, homeowners and wider construction sector must also embrace the opportunities offered by renewables and work together to ensure that the transition to net zero becomes a reality.

Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB and Director of Employment & Skills at SELECT, said: “This video aims not only to inspire young learners to become electrical apprentices but also to show that the electrical industry is at the heart of the move to the electrification of society.

“However, we also need to persuade those outwith our industry to be equally committed to the adoption and uptake of green technology to ensure that this training is not in vain and that the electricians of tomorrow emerge into a country that is willing to embrace renewables.”

Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT, added: “To ensure that there is a sustainable and healthy pipeline of work for this next generation of electricians, we need the government, the Scottish people and the construction industry to use renewable technology and join us on the transition to net zero.

“Such a transition needs to happen now and we all need to face the reality that we must do it sooner rather than later if we are to secure an energy-efficient future for our children and our children’s children.

“More incentives for the adoption and installation of green technology and clearer advice and information on funding and grants would be a big help in encouraging take-up and ensuring the renewables skills currently being taught are successfully utilised by electrical professionals in the years to come.”

Running from March 4 to 8, this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week will again celebrate the value and importance of apprenticeships, with this year’s event focusing on skills generation.

Anne Galbraith, CEO of SECTT,said: “The electrical sector in Scotland is taking the lead in skills generation, with 2,500 young people currently receiving the training necessary to cultivate complex skill sets and lay strong foundations for a long and rewarding career.

“However, the vast depth of knowledge needed to become an electrician can only be obtained by completing the Modern Apprenticeship, and there are no short cuts to equipping electrical professionals with the skills they need to power our country for decades to come.

“If we are to make the transition to net zero safely and securely, it is of the utmost importance that the electricians of tomorrow spend a minimum of four years learning their trade properly and completing a dedicated, tailor-made apprenticeship.”

Amendment to the Promulgation Notice – SJIB Circular 04/2023

Amendments to SJIB Apprentice Rates for 2024

Local Public Holidays 2024

National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) Rates

New SJIB report shows healthy pipeline of young electrical talent coming through

The SJIB says it is looking ahead to 2024 with confidence as new figures show a healthy pipeline of emerging young talent – but also insists that industry-led apprenticeships are the only way to deliver the future of skills development. 

The body has joined SELECT and the  Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) in welcoming a new report which shows the youthful age profile of Scotland’s electricians.

The trio also point to record recruitment levels over the past three years and recent triumphs in national apprentice competitions as further proof of a bright future, but also insist that such high standards can only be maintained by industry-approved training.

The statement comes after a new SJIB report found that of the 19,566 people in Scotland with an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) card, almost 40 per cent (7,813) are aged between 16 and 29, with just 19 per cent (3,836) aged 50 or over.

Some 4,603 (24 per cent) holders of the accreditation that permits holder to carry out electrical work are aged between 30 and 39, with 17 per cent (3,314) in the 40 to 49 bracket.

Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB, said: “These encouraging findings counter the oft-heard fears of an ageing workforce that won’t be replaced. Instead, it suggests an engaged and eager younger generation who are already embracing the challenge of new technology and will continue to safely heat and power our homes and business for generations to come.

“As the electrification of society continues, we are looking ahead to 2024 with confidence that a healthy pipeline of young talent is emerging, produce qualified electricians who have a solid, broad base of knowledge that can be added to with additional training as required.”

However, Ms Harper warned that there is no substitute for a proper apprenticeship and that the bodies would continue to rigorously promote proper employer-led training to ensure Scotland is served by competent professionals who work to the highest safety standards.

She went on: “There is only one route to becoming an electrician and that is undertaking the four-year Modern Apprenticeship in Electrical Installation, with top-up training for areas as needed, such as specialist renewable technology.

“We have previously warned about the dangers of ‘six-week wonders’ trying to enter the industry after taking just a short course in basic skills and we will continue to alert the sector and the wider public of the potentially dangerous consequences of employing such people.”

The new figures have emerged during another bumper year for electrical apprenticeships in Scotland, with 908 new starts and full classes for the 2023/24 intake following the 900-plus apprentices and adult trainees recruited for both 2022/23 and 2021/22.

Anne Galbraith, CEO of SECTT,which manages high-quality training on behalf of the SJIB, said: “The healthy state of electrical skills training in Scotland is reflected in the high apprentice and adult trainee intake for the past three years, with enthusiastic students, and committed employers, most of whom are members of SELECT.

“These employees are the future of the industry and it’s vital that everyone recognises the importance of the industry-led scheme which is an exemplar model.

“It’s crucial that an electrical apprenticeship continues to be the recognised route to market to ensure we train the workforce of the future in the skills they will need to deliver net zero successfully and safely.”

SELECT Managing Director Alan Wilson said the recent victory by a Scottish apprentice in the national SkillELECTRIC competition is a further indicator of the high standard of training north of the Border.

Danny McBean, 21 (pictured above), from SELECT Member company Grants (Dufftown) Ltd, triumphed in the UK-wide skills contest in Manchester in November – the third Scottish apprentice to win the title in the past four years.

Alan said: “Danny scored top marks after excelling in a complicated electrical installation task against the very best young electrical talent from across the UK.

“His victory – and the achievements of other young Scots in previous years – reflects the quality of instruction that electrical apprentices and adult trainees currently receive at training centres across Scotland.

“As the country moves towards a wholly electricity-dependent economy, we must ensure that young talent like Danny is properly nurtured to guarantee both a brighter industry and a safer Scotland for years to come.”