Higher standards all round
SELECT Members are rightly proud of their record in training high quality electricians, taking on more than 600 apprentices each year. Many of these go on to become Approved Electricians and Approved Certifiers under the Scottish Government Building Standards system, all of which contributes to high safety standards for Scottish society.
SELECT is proud of this position and we try very hard to make sure as many people as possible appreciate the standing of electrical training in Scotland. Unfortunately, some observers take our views as a criticism of the state of training in their nation. It is, of course, nothing of the sort and we value highly the work we undertake with a wide range of UK skills and training organisations. Our awareness raising activities in the skills arena are in fact aimed at explaining the fact of the matter, which is that Scotland’s education and training system has evolved very differently to that in England, mainly for historical and cultural reasons, and that the two are now very different.
This was graphically brought to mind to me again when I recently received a promotional e-mail from a commercial training provider based south of London. I was shocked to read about some of the training on offer, as illustrated by the following extracts:
‘This is our most popular electrician course and was designed for people with little or no experience .... who are looking to pursue a career as an electrician. There are no entry requirements for this electrical training course. With these course qualifications you will be able to join a Government approved part P scheme provider and self certify that your work complies with up to date building regulations’.
Worse still, the programme only takes three weeks! All in all, a situation that ought to appal anyone concerned with electrical safety standards.
I should make it clear however that the training provider in question is not breaking any law and they are simply exploiting a market that has developed in tandem with the way electrical regulation in England has evolved. Thankfully, a different approach to building regulations and electrical qualifications has developed in Scotland. No less a person than Scotland’s First Minister has gone on record to say that her Government will be sticking with Modern Apprenticeships, which enshrines four year level three electrical apprenticeships as the sole benchmark for electricians in Scotland.
We are fortunate, as the electrical industry in Scotland, to find ourselves in a better place than colleagues in England and with such clear commitment from Government to maintain that position. But regulation of the electrical industry could and should be much tighter still and there remains the risk that we will be dragged down to lower standards. For that reason, SELECT will continue to take every opportunity to highlight examples of poor practice and push for higher standards all round – our Members will accept nothing less.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, SELECT