Electrical Licence to Practice & Building a Safer Future

14 August 2018

Andrew Wolstenholme OBE commenting on the UK construction industry in the foreword of the Farmer Review “Modernise or Die” said “- given the attrition exacerbated by an aging workforce – we simply cannot go on as we are.”

In the foreword, Mr. Wolstenholme also pointed to the construction industry’s “structural vulnerability to skills shortages.”  Skills shortages and low competency levels in the UK electrical installation sector already negatively impact business development and value for money objectives of many public and private sector clients.

Many clients are in the dark when it comes to understanding the occupational identity and competency of those carrying out electrical work in commercial and industrial property. The impact of subletting tier two, sub-contracted electrical work into the unregulated supply chain has veiled the displacement of competent electrical workers and hindered apprenticeship recruitment in the sector.  This means that wiring, connecting, and fit-out of electrical systems are increasingly carried out by unqualified, underqualified or self-designated electrical workers.

In the “Building a Safer Future” Final Report, Dame Judith Hackitt states that “procurers must prioritise building safety by commissioning good quality design and using competent people.”  Removing the veil is essential. Responsible clients of the construction and electrical contracting industry are the primary force for change.

The author of The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model Mark Farmer writes “The prognosis for the industry if action is not taken quickly, is that it will become seriously debilitated.”

Almost every aspect of modern life, as well as the property we work in, visit or occupy is tied to the safe use of electricity. Hospitals, Schools, Factories, Offices and many more building types including those who use them rely on the availability of safely installed electrical systems.

It follows then that responsible, innovative methods and resources are made available to clients to help them shape and improve the industry that exists to serve and protect them.  Reforming and modernising the industry must be led by Clients.  The present, fragmented structure of the industry means that it will not change by itself.  Only the influence, authority and behaviours of responsible clients, will be sufficient to incentivise and unite the industry towards world class standards.