Change on the cards

The SJIB Grade (ECS) Card in your pocket is changing slightly and will now be underpinned by qualifications. We explain the move, why the cards are vital to every electrician – and why it’s equally important to keep them updated

The SJIB Grade (ECS) Cards have been around for as long as the SJIB itself – nearly 50 years in fact. They come in all colours, from white cards with a red stripe for apprentices to a gold card that, unsurprisingly, represents the gold standard in the industry.

But whatever their colour, they all mean something and ensure a shared and common understanding across the UK.

Their purpose is to advise a potential employer that someone is a qualified electrician. So if they see someone with an SJIB card, they know they’ve gone through an official SJIB programme and can be confident that they’ve been properly trained.

The card is also vital in the ongoing push for industry regulation, as if you’ve got one, it shows that at the very least you’re on your way to being qualified, or doing the additional training that will upgrade you to an approved electrician.

Plus, thanks to our affiliation with Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS), prospective employers can also tell that you’re expert in health and safety and have taken an environmental assessment.

As our table shows, the main cards are for approved and skilled electricians, as well as apprentices, but in addition, there are ones for labourers and other ECS-related occupations, such as data communications and fire and security.

The ECS Scheme

The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) is a partner of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), instantly recognisable within the electrotechnical industry to allow card holders to demonstrate their credentials to others; from employers and clients to business contacts and colleagues

So what’s changing?

So far so good, you might think. However, during the past year, fundamental changes have been implemented by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS).

The biggest change is that all these cards now have to be underpinned by specific qualifications – and it’s going to be an evolving and ongoing process, which requires close attention.

It might seem complex at first, but in a nutshell, the qualifications and paperwork you hold will be crucial to every card, and you may need to undergo new training to make sure every box is ticked.

So for example, if you currently hold a manager’s card, you will have to undergo a different type of health and safety course to meet the requirements of the new card.

To help support this, from early next year, the SJIB will be developing specially customised training courses with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

This will help ensure that everyone has the qualifications they need to hold a card, so you can continue to do your job.

Don’t panic!

Although the physical cards themselves aren’t really changing, what is important is that you have your cards up to date.

SELECT Members don’t need to do anything now, but you do need to be aware and check what the requirements are for your particular card.

If, for example, you currently have a site manager’s card, you’ll need to think about what’s appropriate for you in the future. It could be a site support card, a manager’s card or even a special card for an Academically Qualified Person (AQP).

You just need to be thinking about where you’re going next and which card you’ll need. And remember – YOU are responsible for your cards, not the SJIB.

The SJIB will honour all current cards until they expire, and onlythen will we be telling people the appropriate action to take.

Until then, we will be distributing circulars and updating our website with important messaging – so please get in touch if you have any queries.

To find out more, email fiona.harper@select.org.uk

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