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How the ECS is getting in shape to be fitter for the future

The new Chair of the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) reflects on the task ahead for its steering committee and what the UK industry should expect from it going forward

It’s a few days before the London Marathon and I’m sitting in a café watching a river of runners taking their last easy jogs before the big day on Sunday. What strikes me most, aside from seeing so many people clearly wrapped up in the primal joy of running, is the myriad of shapes and sizes on display. Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones, fat ones and everything in between.

One runner in particular caught my attention as he passed me four times in 40 minutes. He was what some people might describe as a ‘big unit’. But despite being about six-and-a-half feet tall and closer to 20 stone than 15, he clearly had been a runner for a few years. He was efficient, deliberate and easy moving, surprising me on his last pass with a furious turn of speed, presumably to top off his session with effort and style.

I’m not sure why, but this gent drew an analogy in my mind with the ECS, which is itself also a ‘big unit’. As it approaches 20 years in existence, the ECS currently certifies the training, qualifications and skills of some 160,000 individuals. Just like our runner, ECS is operationally skilled and consistently provides a trusted and reliable service. Unlike our runner, it has sometimes been criticised for not putting in the effort to be the very best it can be – it perhaps hasn’t always pushed itself quite hard enough?

So, as the new Chair of the ECS steering committee, my role seems clear and that is to help the ECS become fitter for the future. It’s early days yet, but already progress has been made. Governance of the scheme has been enhanced and the composition of the steering committee widened to include representation from important electrical safety and accreditation organisations.

New formal terms of reference for the ECS have been implemented and a set of strategic objectives agreed. Both of these initiatives will professionalise attitudes and bring a broader perspective to the work of ECS as well as help hold it to account. Looking slightly further ahead, and on the back of a detailed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, the focus will turn to building on the key strengths of ECS and maximising the opportunities to grow it further and more fully embrace the wider electrotechnical industry.

A key part will be the development of a clear communications strategy, not only to ensure key stakeholders are kept properly informed, but also to grow awareness of the value of ECS, not least with government and the general public. An annual report will support the strategy by recording key activities, noting meaningful achievements and identifying progress against targets.

All of this will hopefully be a catalyst to raise the game of the ECS and turn an already value-added electrotechnical industry stalwart into something even better. The ECS may already be a big unit, but there is no reason at all why it shouldn’t be bigger still and at the same time more efficient, responsive and aligned to the needs of the sector.

In short, it will be just like our large runner, pushing that wee bit harder to be the best it can be. After all, it’s what the industry needs and expects – and there is no reason why the ECS can’t deliver and be fitter for the future.


By Newell McGuiness

ECS Chair

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