With apprenticeships playing an increasingly important role in Scotland, the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) Chief Executive Anne Galbraith preview the valuable work it’s doing this year to train the next generation – and reveals why taking on an apprentice is good for business
Here at SECTT, apprenticeships mean high-quality, value-for-money training and a well-structured and balanced journey between on-site and off-site learning. Off-site training at an approved centre teaches all the underpinning knowledge required to understand electricity, taught by knowledgeable and enthusiastic lecturers.
Safety at all times is also key. SECTT is committed to ensuring that all apprentices qualifying as electricians can work safely and to the highest level while maintaining standards in the ever-changing and more complex technical advances in installation work. It is our responsibility to ensure today’s apprentices will sustain public confidence in the industry’s electricians of tomorrow.
An apprenticeship ensures that the workforce has the practical skills and qualifications that employers need now and in the future. Electrical contractors appreciate and value an apprentice and see this as a compliment to the existing workforce and an investment to their companies.
It’s this relationship between employer and apprentice that is of the utmost importance. Apprentices following the SJIB Training Scheme are shown to be skilled, loyal and motivated, and this gives employers the necessary workforce for now and the future.
Sustained and substantial training is at the core of the SJIB Training Scheme. The journey takes four to five years for apprentices to complete, so there is no fast track to becoming an electrician. Instead, they gain a maturity, safety, knowledge and understanding that only comes with experience.
Here, we outline the many ways we are helping to shape the electricians of tomorrow.
Adult Training Scheme
A modern apprenticeship is not just for young people. SECTT also manages the SJIB Adult Training Scheme for those already working within in the electrical industry but with no formal qualifications – a highly successful programme giving an opportunity to many. There is no dilution in the quality of training for the Adult Training Scheme, only the recognition that mature people learn and absorb information differently.
Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA)
From feedback, it’s clear that there’s a need for a test that demonstrates the apprentice can apply their knowledge and expertise in a real world context. The FICA does just that.
It’s the final step to become an electrician and obtain an SJIB Grade Card, showing something real and meaningful. Employers are deeply involved in defining its requirements, showing competence, confidence and ability.
We were delighted to open a third FICA centre at Edinburgh College, Sighthill Campus, in September 2017, complementing the existing centres in Cambuslang and Tullos Training Ltd, Aberdeen.
But FICA is just the first step. After completion, at least two years’ experience is needed to become an Approved Electrician by sitting the Advanced Competence Assessment (ACA).
We’ve had a high degree of success in integrating those on the SECTT pre-apprenticeship courses for work experience and progression into full-time employment on the modern apprenticeship.
The pre-apprenticeship course offers employers an opportunity to assess if the person will be suitable for their business. It also offers the pre-apprentice an opportunity to experience working life and then be in a position to make an informed decision on whether being an electrician is for them.
The Prince’s Trust
SECTT has been working with the Prince’s Trust for the past three years to deliver the Get Into Electrical Installation programme as an alternative route into employment for scores of youngsters.
Funded by SELECT’s Electrical Engineering Training Foundation (EETF), this six-week intense programme is offered in three areas – West of Scotland, Edinburgh and the Lothians, and Dundee and Angus – and includes a week’s work experience.
With an excellent uptake and positive results, the programme has given plenty of 16-29 year olds an opportunity to gain basic electrical skills and work experience.
SELECT, Unite the Union, the SJIB and SECTT continue dialogue with the Scottish Government requesting that “electrician” becomes a protected title. It was evident from recent SELECT surveys across Scotland that the public believe that this is already the case – but not so. Which is why the work goes on.
SECTT is currently in discussion with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) regarding the implementation of a fully electronic e-portfolio and review system. This would give employers the ability to see current and historical reviews, portfolio entries and at what stage the apprentice is. It has huge potential, which we are currently exploring.
Electrical contractors have always been highly supportive of apprenticeships, which is reflected in the 5 per cent increase in apprentice/adult trainee numbers in 2017.
For companies to remain competitive and strong they require a fully skilled workforce. Now is the time to consider your requirements for the coming academic session – and to recruit an apprentice to support your business for the future.