Electrical Contractors Association unveils new charter to recharge electrical skills

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  Posted by: electime      12th December 2023

The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) has unveiled a new charter to recharge electrical skills at a reception in the House of Commons.

Supported by ECA Member businesses, parliamentarians and other stakeholders, the charter aims to secure the expansion in the skilled electrical workforce required for the UK to reach net zero.

Electrification has emerged as a key element of the UK’s decarbonisation plans. Ranging from heat pumps to solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicle charging, the new infrastructure that businesses, households and communities need will require a competent, qualified electrician to install and commission them.

ECA believes that to deliver ‘green jobs’ for the future, we need a strong and thriving electrical workforce, that is appropriately trained. This should start with a solid foundation of trade competence, typically achieved through a multi-year electrical apprenticeship, then topped up by short, specialist upskilling training in particular net zero technologies.

To achieve this in England, ECA believes three main changes are required:

  • Policy makers starting to engage directly with the electrical sector itself
  • A 30% uplift in English electrical apprenticeship places (on top of the 40 per cent growth already achieved)
  • Fixing the badly broken skills pipeline between college-based education and industry employment

At a reception in Westminster on 27 November attended by leading parliamentarians including Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead, ECA Members called for government to work with the sector to reimagine the way we recruit, prepare and retain electricians for the challenges and opportunities of a net-zero world.

Leading ECA members including T Clarke, NG Bailey, Dalkia and Clarkson Evans joined the association in calling for an increase in the number of qualified electricians and a stronger pipeline with support into employment that helps put qualified electricians at the heart of net zero. This included prioritising funding toward industry endorsed routes to qualified status, supporting small employers to take on apprentices, and monitoring and assessing the outcomes of classroom-based courses.

The full Charter can be found here.

The charter was signed by attendees including Alan Whitehead MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, John Spellar MP, ECA Vice President Ruth Devine, CEO of JTL Chris Claydon, CEO of FETA Chris Yates and many more.

Speaking at the event in Parliament, Director of Workforce and Public Affairs Andrew Eldred said:

“Competent, qualified electricians are indispensable for a safe and reliable transition to net zero. We already have a strong national skills-base, and the growth in the workforce that is required is entirely achievable – but we need public policy to support and assist industry in achieving this goal, rather than obstructing or undermining it.

“The inconvenient truth is that a great deal of the public money currently being ploughed into classroom-only electrical qualifications and ‘green skills’ bootcamps in England is going to waste. This money would be far better spent on training routes co-created and recognised by industry, boosting up the nation’s population of competent, qualified electricians and then upskilling them to install and commission the technologies of the future.”

Alan Whitehead, Shadow Minister for Energy commented:

“Labour’s mission to make Britain a clean energy superpower will create and sustain good jobs across the country. Electricians will be absolutely crucial for delivering many of the low-carbon technologies that will form the backbone of our future green economy.

“We need to make sure that our skills system is set up to train the electricians of the future and meet the growing needs of households and businesses in the transition to cheaper, cleaner energy.”