Electricians' group publishes reviewed skills and competence guidance

Jun 25, 2014 by Robert Beahan

A collaborative group representing electricians has published new Guidance outlining the skills and competences required for individuals to carry out electrical installation work within dwellings in England and Wales.

The Skills Alliance for Electricians (SA4E) comprises representatives of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry, the Electrical Contractors' Association, Unite the union, SummitSkills, the Engineering Council and more recently the Highways Electrical Association. Working together with the Building Control Alliance, the group has produced the new peer-reviewed Guidance for Building Control Bodies.

IET Director of Membership and Professional Development, Michelle Richmond, said: "The main purpose of this new Guidance is to enhance standards and the competence recognition of electricians so that home owners can be confident that the work being carried out in their homes meets all the safety requirements.."

Since 2005, all electrical work in dwellings in England and Wales, whether carried out professionally or as DIY, must meet the requirements of Part P of the Building Regulations. In April 2013 the requirements for England were amended. Compliance with Part P is a serious matter and intended to keep the public as safe as possible from electrical hazards. Local authorities have the power to make homeowners or landlords remove or alter any work that does not meet the requirements of the Building Regulations.

The Guidance incorporates a qualification and competence risk indicator which can be used by Building Control Bodies to assess the level of confidence they can place in the individual to undertake the work competently and safely and as a result the degree of supervision and inspection they should exercise.

SA4E was formed from a previous Technical Advisory Panel and Steering Group (TAPS) which published findings from a large research study that focused on electrician technician registration (May 2013). The Highway Electrical Association joined the SA4E in May 2014.

Qualified and experienced electricians are eligible to apply for the Engineering Technician (EngTech) professional registration.

Paul Wilkins, Chair of the Building Control Alliance said today "I congratulate the SA4E in bringing together this Guidance. The Guidance will greatly assist all building control professionals in assessing the competence of individuals carrying out electrical work outside of Competent Persons Schemes and allow early decisions to be made in terms of the level of inspection and testing that they need to carry out in ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of those people using the buildings."

A key finding of the Phase 1 study stated that an overwhelming number of participants in the study shared the view that there is a "degree of confusion within the electrical industry regarding competence measurement for electricians." Caused, they believe, by the "lack of a recognised, common, overarching standard across the electrical industry aligned specifically to the types of work (domestic, commercial and industrial) undertaken by electricians and contractors".

The SA4E partners are committed to working together to provide further insight and support specific to the skill recognition, career advancement and professionalism of qualified electricians.

The SA4E partner team is chaired by a Director of the IET, Michelle Richmond CEng FIET.

Electrician Technician (EngTech) registration provides independent recognition of competence at an individual level. It is a recognised differentiation of professionalism and commitment demonstrating the individual has been assessed to ensure standards required for admission to the Engineering Council's national Register of professional engineers and technicians has been attained.

The Electrotechnical Assessment Specification is published by the IET and details the minimum requirements against which an enterprise (eg, an electrical contractor) is to be assessed to determine competence to carry-out electrical installation work. electrical.theiet.org/building-regulations/eas/index.cfm

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More information: Download the IET-BCA Guidance Document at www.theiet.org/sa4e

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