The Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) says there is now “overwhelming industry support” for regulation of the electrical industry and is urging more professionals to make their voices heard.
The leading construction body insists protection of title is vital to protect consumers across Scotland – and points to a recent consultation in which 90% of respondents said they were in favour of the measure.
The consultation by MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, which closed in November, received 141 submissions, 121 of which were fully supportive, 10 partially supportive, one neutral, three partially opposed and only three opposed.
Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB, said: “It was heartening to see such a high level of responses from a wide cross-section of the industry and to see so many organisations and individual electricians taking a real interest in the future of our industry.
“It was equally pleasing to see that the vast majority of the responses have been positive about the need for some form of regulation, and that there is overwhelming support for protection of title for the profession of electrician.
“The responses show that there is a real appetite to deliver a bill through the Scottish Parliament as soon as possible to secure the safety of consumers and the integrity of the electrical sector in Scotland.”
Ms Harper, who is also Director of Employment & Skills at SELECT, the trade association, also urged electrician to take part in a second consultation on regulation, launched by Jamie Hepburn, MSP, the Minister for Business, Fair work and Skills, which closes on 12 February.
She added: “These consultations are a major step towards a safer industry and we look forward to welcoming a new dawn for electricians and their customers in Scotland.
“At present, anyone can claim to be an electrician and work on an electrical installation. It cannot be right that those who have completed a full apprenticeship and who work in the industry in a safe and competent manner, can be compromised by those who call themselves electricians but who have no or inadequate qualifications.
“Industry research suggests that the net benefits to Scotland from proper regulation of electricians will total around £58million. We would also benefit from higher electrical standards, a reduction in the number of injuries and deaths, better functioning installations, less need for call backs or for poor/unsafe work to be repaired, leading to improved customer satisfaction.”
The first consultation was set up by Highland and Islands MSP Mr Halcro Johnston in a bid to present a case for regulation in advance of a proposed Holyrood Member’s Bill.
The Bill would be the culmination of a long-running campaign by the SJIB, SELECT and other leading industry bodies to make sure that those who work in the industry do so in a safe and competent manner.
SELECT has spent the past few years campaigning with other leading trade bodies for the introduction of regulation, with its many supporters listed on the online Wall of Support.
In its own response to the consultation, the SJIB said regulation would “significantly enhance consumer, client and public protection and safety while deterring unqualified individuals”.
The body, which sets the standards for employment and apprentice training in the electrical contracting sector, also said any new scheme would bring significant economic benefits and would assist in the drive for a “sustainable skills base”.
In the response, Ms Harper said: “The promotion and utilisation of registered electrical contractors with industry-recognised qualifications would address the scale of poorly installed, defective and unsafe electrical work.
“The SJIB already administers the ECS [Electrotechnical Certification Scheme] which accommodates and recognises the diverse array of electricians operating within the electrotechnical industry. With some additional safeguards, the SJIB could develop a very robust scheme at little additional cost.”
Founded in 1969 by SELECT and Unite the Union, the SJIB’s duties include regulating between employers and employees, providing benefits for people engaged in the industry, and stimulating industry progress. In addition, it has oversight of employment, skills and proficiency, health and safety competence, wages and welfare benefits across the electrical industry in Scotland.