Training - The new AM2 - demanding, but worth it!

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NET Business Development Manager, Stephen Plant, explains why the AM2  assessment has been modernised after consultation with the electrotechnical industry

The AM2 has been the gold standard for the electrotechnical industry for the last 25 years, but as technology grows at a pace, the assessment must change to reflect the demands placed on today's electricians. From April 2010 we will be introducing a new AM2 assessment, which has been modified after a two-year consultation period. We hope the modifications to the assessment will further boost the next generation of electricians' confidence in their own abilities, while reinforcing AM2 as the evidence that they and their employers are capable of providing the best level of service to their clients.

Contrary to many people's understanding, the AM2 is not solely a standalone qualification; it is an assessment of occupational competence, which forms an integral part of an electrician's apprenticeship, as well as being available to those who need to undertake it in other contexts, such as adult trainees. Passing the assessment is a useful proof of proficiency at a time when standards are becoming ever more demanding.

Updating an established assessment such as the AM2 presents an interesting challenge, namely how to maintain the assessment's standing within the industry. The AM2 has provided valuable proof of competence for tens of thousands of electricians, so it was imperative any modifications to the assessment did not affect its position as the industry's benchmark of occupational competence.

Over the last two years, NET has carried out a systematic consultation process involving apprentices, employers, practising electricians and examiners. We took every opportunity to get as much feedback as possible before we made any changes to the assessment. The review presented an opportunity not just to look at the assessment itself but also the marking system, administration and candidate guidance.

One of the conclusions that came from the consultation was the need to make the assessment reflect current working practices, including the use of modern connection and wiring systems. As a result, the revised assessment is now entirely competence, rather than systems, based. It encompasses methods of installation and termination, safe isolation, risk assessment, inspection, testing and fault finding.

We have also updated the marking system, reflecting the need to make the assessment more efficient and provide meaningful feedback. In the past, some candidates undertook the assessment before they were fully prepared. The new assessment will have much better candidate guidance to ensure, whilst it remains challenging, candidates can better assess their state of readiness.

We have introduced a recommended pre-requisite checklist. This will allow candidates to check their competence against the individual elements of the assessment. When they feel comfortable with each component of the assessment, as outlined in the checklist, they are then ready to undertake the AM2. We have also increased the level of support and guidance that we provide candidates before, during and after the assessment.

Those who already possess an AM2 certificate will not be required to re-qualify against the new assessment. However, due to the change in content, those who need to re-sit the current assessment must do so before April 2010 before the new assessment is introduced. We would urge all those who need to book their re-sits to do so as soon as possible to ensure that they are assessed under the present system. NET's mobile assessment centre (pictured) will be deployed on a regional basis to support AM2 centres in delivering an effective service to those requiring re-sit facilities.

Altering something which has become a benchmark for an individual electrician's competence was never going to be simple, but we feel that the changes we have implemented reflect the skills required by the electricians of today and future.