For the past 116 years Scottish electricians have been represented by a strong and growing membership association. More than a century on and SELECT remains the true heart of the electrical contracting industry in Scotland.
In the modern marketplace businesses are consumers as much as the customers they serve. We all require services to trade: whether it’s the signwriter for company livery, or a telephony company to rid our system of outdated hold music, replacing it with something useful and informative. The same applies to who we choose to best represent our interests, from important salary negotiations, to training, advice and safeguarding standards.
SELECT starts 2016 very much with the same founding principles it had in 1900, as the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland. At the heart of our association is a sense of belonging: we are owned by our Members, we are not for profit and are headquareterd in Scotland. There is a real sense of cameraderie across the electrical contracting industry in Scotland, driven by SELECT and its Members. We wanted to start the year with that positive message in mind. That you, as Members, are the lifeblood of the organisation. Without you we would not be able to continually press the case for regulation, for better payment practices and the mandating of building standards across the industry, which we campaign for as a scheme provider for the Scottish Government’s Certification of Construction.
Without you we would also not be able to stay ahead of the curve and make sure we offer the very best training programmes at apprentice level, delivered by the SJIB and SECTT (for which SELECT has responsibility), and the continual professional development of time-served electricians, who must meet the market demands for new products and stay on top of evolving iterations of the Wiring Regulations. To illustrate, in 2015 alone more than 2,500 delegates attended 229 separate courses delivered by our tutors and in partnership with experts. We also ran our Graduate Certificate in Management Practice at Napier University for the eighth year and had over 400 delegates attend Amendment 3 seminars. In addition to that we answer around 1,200 calls a year to our technical helpline, providing a direct point of contact for all your queries on technical matters.
At the end of the day SELECT is and always should be much more than a logo or a badge on a van. We are not a nakedly commercial, click button certification organisation, charging for each and every service from some remote location. We want to get to know our Members, visit them, maintain contact with them and help them thrive in business. Our annual Toolbox Talks, which begin again in May, is testament to that fact, with 300 delegates attending last year. Similarly, we are commited to a rolling contact programme, which included 330 company visits by our Membership representatives in 2015, alongside scheduled visits by our technical advisers.
But does it work? Well, the proof is in the pudding. We have a stable and growing Membership base: 58 new Members joined in 2015 – so the contact we offer obviously works!
You only have to look at the last edition of CABLEtalk to see the story of Ninian Johnson, who travelled 500 miles by plane, ferry and car to join up for the first time in his long career as an installer from the remote island of Unst. Even as a sole trader Ninian recognised the importance of being part of a bigger network of colleagues to share the good and the bad of working life. It is that principle of membership which underpinned the mediaval guilds of yore and underpins SELECT’s core values today.
So why is it important to continue to be a SELECT Member? As our Managing Director reminds us in his usual column in these pages, this year in particular looks likely to see much change as the ongoing devolutionary process delivers a new raft of powers to Holyrood and existing Bills are signed into law, affecting everything from the procurement process to the way apprenticeships are funded. We must ensure we are a loud voice so we can directly feed into and help shape the way legislation is delivered on the ground, again to saefguard our Members and the way they do business.
Only a true Membership organisation can offer that personal and friendly touch, that sense of belonging so apparent from our local branch meetings, all the way to our central board. And not forgetting of course our annual industry awards, which provide us all with an opportunity to recognise and reward all the hard work we all put into making this industry the best it can be.
“SELECT provides us with a more efficient service and better tailored to our needs than anything else on offer, and has done since the 1960s.”
Neil McNicol, of John McNicol Electrical in Glasgow
“Having been a member of SELECT since 1981 we value the good advice and support we have received over these years. This backing has no doubt helped us raise our standard to the level to which we are working to today.”
Alasdair Noble, of John Noble Electrical, in Bonnyrigg
“As a young company being a member of SELECT means we have the backing of a great brand, technical advice, training and support along with the vast knowledge and history of a great organisation being over 100 years old”
Mark Denholm, of Ideal Electrical Solutions, in Edinburgh