Individual competence is as important today as when NAPIT was founded over 25 years ago, and remains its most fundamental building block in everything it strives to achieve.
Individual competence is more than requiring an electrician undertaking the work to hold a Level 3 ‘core’ qualification, combined with currently recognised certificates in understanding the latest edition of BS 7671 The Electrical Wiring Regulations and electrical inspection and testing. Qualifications alone are not enough.
To be truly classed as competent, the individual electrician must be assessed regularly during a technical onsite assessment, which concentrates on the type of work which they are claiming competence in.
The technical onsite assessment must be completed by an independent organisation, which itself has been assessed and accredited on an annual basis to ensure its processes and procedures are robust. Currently, the only relevant and independent provider of this type of service is UKAS.
The independence of the assessing organisation is ‘key’. There are too many organisations within the electrical industry who are inexplicably linked and intertwined, which leaves their true agendas hidden.
When the industry is confused by what it sees as hidden agendas, it becomes skeptical and loses faith in the guidance it is given, which is something we must avoid.
Over the years, there has been an erosion of the electrical industry by organisations who are not interested in the individual electrician and have supported the growth of the ‘5-day wonders’ training courses.
They seem intent on breaking the electrical trade into cable pullers, containment installers and so on, which is damaging to the industry. It is ultimately ‘dumbing-down’ the trade.
To be an electrician in this country used to mean something; and since electricity is the future, with the advent of smart homes/businesses, electric cars/trains and electrical renewable technologies, we need a highly qualified multi skilled and competent electrical workforce. The importance of attracting new entrants to the industry cannot be understated.
Mike Andrews, chief executive of NAPIT, made the following comments: “Over the coming months, NAPIT will be at the forefront of campaigning to ensure that both the electrical industry and individual electricians are given the credit they deserve. This campaign will focus on the promotion of ‘competent individually assessed electricians’. As an industry, more needs to be done to champion the integral work that electricians do and will continue to do to keep the UK up and running. It is our objective to ensure that individual competence is respected as the sole indicator of an electrician’s suitability for a job.”
Within the trade press recently, there has been a number of articles calling for a ‘licence’ for electricians. There is no onsite assessment to confirm individual competence or ongoing annual technical assessments.
There also appears to be no work specific competence requirements for new technologies. This is all to be administered by an organisation who is self-appointed, and is not itself independently assessed to ensure it is operating robustly and with a governance structure which is highly questionable.
The two ‘organisations’ who have been producing the ‘licence’ articles can have their origins traced back to the same governing organisation. This raises the following question, is it for the benefit of the individual electrician?
Can a ‘licence’ for electricians, whose operating body(s) don’t prove or continually ‘physically’ monitor the work and competence of its licencees, be truly operating for the good of the industry and the safety of the general public, who will ultimately pay the cost of any discrepancies in quality of work or lack of competency?
These questions must be answered before any decisions are made. The future of the electrical industry is in the balance and change is ahead.
The process of assessing and registering electricians is the job of UKAS accredited Certification Bodies, such as NAPIT, which have strong and robust independently assessed process and procedures, systems for handling complaints and processes for redress.
Certification Bodies can deliver what the electrical industry needs, which is a qualified, continually evolving and multi-skilled competent electrical workforce.