Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

Opinion

Competency and standards: we must not rest on our laurels

28 September 2020 | By Phil Wilbraham

Dame Judith Hackitt praised the ECS for its high standards. Phil Wilbraham explains its plans

Dame Judith Hackitt identified the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) as an exemplar in her Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The scheme, covering more than 175,000 electrotechnical operatives in electrical, fire, emergency and security systems, network infrastructure and allied trades, has a long history of high standards, working hard to formalise training and qualifications for the sector, to keep the workforce competent, safe and healthy.

Its work complements that of the Competence Steering and Working Groups set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017. Since then, members of the ECS steering committee have been feeding into this process through Working Group 2 for Installers.

The focus now is on raising standards further. Recommendations on how to improve standards in the industry from Working Group 2 include setting minimum qualifications for each sector. These include a Level 2 or 3 diploma, CSCS or partner scheme cards, certification of the business, greater continuing professional development (CPD) and knowledge of fire safety in buildings.

ECS registered electrician status was introduced in 2017 to raise standards and recognise those qualified electricians who keep up to date with the latest edition of the Wiring Regulations and commit to an ongoing programme of CPD. The ECS steering committee is supportive of this move to raise the bar further through the Competence Steering Groups, as well as introducing new digital technologies to make the processes of identifying competence easier than ever before. 

An expansion of the online ECS Employer Portal, used by almost 3,000 electrical contractors, ECS Check for Clients and the Supply Chain provides some of the industry’s largest clients and contractors with visibility throughout the supply chain. Digital solutions like this help everyone to recognise the importance of competency and make identifying qualifications, skills and training simple through the use of a real-time system and a downloadable app for use on site. 

Further work will focus on introducing greater support for storing CPD, more flexibility on health, safety and environmental assessments and greater industry collaboration between the trades to ensure no one is left behind. 

Phil Wilbraham is chair of the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme steering group

Image: Dreamstime

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