SparkSafe LtP has emerged from the Electrical Training Trust (ETT), an employer-led training organisation. Established in 1998 by employers, ETT has championed the development of employer-led Level 3 electrical apprenticeship training and adult worker upskilling in Northern Ireland. Improving quality and raising standards on behalf on the industries Client’s, falls within the scope and mission of the organisation. The organisation is self-funded and operates independently of, but is complimentary to, the interests of the industry with other regulated industry bodies.
Our Board of employers includes electrical contractors drawn from the local branch of the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA). A number of other non-ECA contractors and Public Interest members are represented on the Board. The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Branch of the ECA is also a present member of the Employer Board.
To help the industries Clients select and appoint electrical contractors on the basis of competent electrical workers, through the SparkSafe online electrical Licence to Practise system.
In 2009, the Employer Board commissioned research into an Electrical Licence to Practise solution as concerns regarding the detrimental impact of unqualified and underqualified workers entering the sub-contract supply chain continued to grow. Following this, work commenced on the development of a unique IT solution aimed at providing project stakeholders with a means to view the composition of the electrical contractor’s workforce by licence type on a project by project basis.
The concept of Electrical Licence to Practise is founded within the industry. Employers, weary of the decline in standards brought about by sub-economic tendering, underwritten by the use of unqualified and underqualified workers, have become determined to reform the industry through a Licence to Practise system.
The requirement for electrical contractors and electrical workers, to register and pay fees arises because of PQQ, ITT and subsequent contract award obligations. The initiative has initially been designed for application within the UK construction industry.
Since February 2016, the main Public Sector procurement organisations with responsibility for Northern Ireland infrastructure, have included the LtP requirement in the PQQ/ITT process and contract award requirements. These include the Health Trusts/Estates, the Education Authority, the Public Housing Authority and the Water and Transport Service Authorities. The obligation to make use of the LtP system is contained in a government policy document called Procurement Guidance Note 01/16 – Licence to Practise Initiative for Electrical Workers.
Procurement Guidance Notes (PGNs) are the administrative means by which government departments are advised of procurement policy and best practice developments. PGNs are developed by the Northern Ireland Central Procurement Directorate (CPD), in consultation with the Centres of Procurement Expertise (CoPEs), and are subject to the approval of the Procurement Board. Once endorsed by the Procurement Board, they are issued to the Departments for implementation and copied to CoPEs to develop, if necessary, underpinning procedures supporting the implementation of this guidance in their particular sector.