What is an electrician? David Thomas, Strategic Development Manager for The Electrotechnical Certiﬁcation Scheme (ECS), explains what an electrician is.
The electrical industry has formal qualiﬁcations that provide a clear route for an electrician. Obtaining the right qualiﬁcations has never been more important for today’s electrician in order to demonstrate their ability to install and maintain electrotechnical systems. Standards for electrotechnical systems.
Standards for electrotechnical qualifications have been defined through industry consultation for many years. The electrical industry expects all operatives that are working unsupervised in the electrotechnical sector to be qualified to the industry-recognised Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical systems and equipment (building structures and the environment) through a fully completed apprenticeship.
“The electrical industry expects all operatives that are working unsupervised in the electrotechnical sector to be qualified to the industry-recognised Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical systems and equipment (building structures and the environment) through a fully completed apprenticeship.”
The Joint Industry Board (JIB), the organisation that sets the standards for employment, welfare, grading and apprentice training in the electrical contracting industry (in, England, Wales and Northern Ireland), recognises these standards in the form of the Electrotechnical Certiﬁcation Scheme. This is better known by the initials – ECS, and qualiﬁed electricians can apply for and carry an ECS Card. This card not only proves that a person is qualiﬁed to work on site as an electrician, it also conﬁrms their identity and shows that they have been health and safety assessed.
Other qualification options
Alternatively, it may be possible to meet the ECS card requirements with the Level 3 NVQ in Electrotechnical Services (Electrical Installation – Buildings & Structures) or the JIB Mature Candidate Assessment with the necessary underpinning knowledge qualiﬁcation (or technical certiﬁcate) at Level 3 and the AM2 assessment – a three-day industry recognised practical trade test. If their assessment meets the required standard then there will be no need to go back to college to train in the classroom.
This is in line with the normal industry qualification requirements, and only focuses on the compulsory part of the assessment. The value of this is that the competence the individual has already achieved is credited toward achieving the full industry qualification.
Qualiﬁcations such as the standalone 17th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations, the Certiﬁcate in Fundamental Inspection and the Certiﬁcate in the Certiﬁcation of Electrical Installations (inspection, testing and certiﬁcation of electrical installations) are designed as professional development for qualiﬁed electricians, and, as such, are unsuitable for unqualiﬁed personnel or new entrants into the industry. On their own they do not demonstrate the industry-required qualiﬁcation and competence needed to be recognised as an electrician.
Any reference to Part P of the building regulations is for a company to comply with the legislative requirement (in England) and is not a general requirement for individually qualiﬁed electricians employed within the industry.
Short Part P training programmes are only for individuals who have been working within the industry for at least two years and wish to be registered as a Qualiﬁed Supervisor for their company. These courses do not qualify individuals as electricians because the training is focused on the requirements of the Building Regulations. Operatives who are already formally qualiﬁed to the NVQ Level 3 do not need to re-qualify if they are the proposed Qualiﬁed Supervisor for their company, but will need to demonstrate their knowledge of the Building Regulations during their company’s Part P assessment visit by the relevant Competent Persons Scheme provider.
The future training requirements of the industry remain much the same as they were when the electrical apprenticeship was ﬁrst introduced. In order to retain and justify the “qualiﬁed electrician” status all practicing electricians should keep their qualiﬁcations current with the requirements of the industry.
Qualiﬁed electricians still need a good grounding in electrical theory, which will provide the basis of integrating new and emerging technologies into electrical installations. Electricians also continue to need a full working knowledge of the wiring regulations in order to ensure that their work meets the required British Standards and is safe in its operation.
The best way to train new entrants into the electrical industry is through a formal industry apprenticeship, but there are also opportunities for people to prove their competence through site assessment.
The JIB has a long history of accrediting the formal qualiﬁcations held by professional electricians through the ECS card. Anyone who holds an ECS can easily demonstrate that they have met the requirements to truly be called an electrician.