Competence of UK electricians recognised by new national standard

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A national standard that marks the competency of individual electricians in the UK has been launched by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in collaboration with the Engineering Council.

The national Recognised Electrician EngTech Standard is for electricians undertaking electrical installation, maintenance and remedial works in buildings and dwellings and is awarded via competence based peer assessment. Such an assessment will provide a national benchmark of competence for electricians working in safety critical roles and means companies will be able to confidently recruit and retain highly qualified and professionally registered electrical workers.

Michelle Richmond, IET director of Membership & Professional Development, said: “The IET has, for some time, been concerned that electricians working on both basic electrical installations and complex high rise buildings should have the appropriate demonstrable qualifications and competence.

“We believe that safety critical, electrotechnical work, is largely hidden within the fabric of buildings and it is, therefore, down to the individual electrician to be accountable for the work they do, both in design, installation and maintenance.

“This recognised standard will not only provide the industry with a competency benchmark, but will give companies reassurance that they are recruiting a highly skilled workforce. Other benefits would see a reduction in recalled work and associated unplanned costs, providing financial efficiencies too.”

The new national standard supports the final Hackitt report (published 17.05.18)* which proposes improvements regarding the competence of people who are involved in the design, construction, refurbishment, occupation and maintenance of buildings [ref: 3.8 page 52]. It highlights whilst there are many instances of competent people, there is no consistent way to assess or verify their competence which allows individuals to practice with questionable qualifications or without a requirement for competence assessment [ref 5.16 page 78].

Developed through an IET led national working group of sector stakeholders, the new national standard provides the foundation for the recently awarded national IET Certification Mark RPE (Registered Professional Electrician). Electricians achieving RPE will meet the highest ethical standards, operate under a professional code of conduct and commit to continuous professional development and audit.

A similar approach of developing recognised standards could be applied across different disciplines in order to gain similar recognition for competency and compliance to the highest level of industry and safety standards.

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