Northern Ireland has taken up the task of developing a unique online electrical Licence to Practice system. The system had been initially conceived, designed and introduced as a resourced aimed at tackling the race to the bottom tendering culture that has prevailed in the local economy. The new system has been chosen, approved and specified by Northern Ireland’s leading public procurement organisations with the aim of addressing some of the industries biggest challenges. Perhaps the biggest of these challenges is to restore the “level pitch” ethos towards the value and quality of skilled labour. Many Client organisations in the Public Sector recognise that low bid tendering is perpetuated by a dependency of contract winners on a higher proportion of underqualified and unqualified labour to meet labour budgets. The adoption of the new system by the Public Sector is aimed at breaking this cycle.
Since February 2016, Electrical Contractors have become obliged to think much more carefully about labour costs and workforce composition prior to finalising tender bids. Client interest on the qualitative makeup of the Electrical Contractor’s workforce is now brought to the forefront and has been made visible through the online system. One of the first organisations to specify the requirement was Northern Ireland’s principle social housing authoring the NIHE. The NIHE Contracts valuing £600m have been awarded to four Main Contractors, who are obliged to exclusively employ Licenced Electrical Workers. Each worker must register for a Licence and then become connected online with the contract via their employer and the main contractor. The system will be made available to Private and Public Sector clients in the UK from 2017 onwards.