Campaigning trade association SELECT is calling for a more regulated electrical industry in Scotland – by creating a register of electricians.
SELECT has told a parliamentary consultation that regulating the industry would help reduce death and injury, bring significant economic benefits and encourage more women and minorities to take up the tools.
It has outlined the vital importance of creating protection of title for individual operatives in Scotland, in order to assure the public that anyone who presents themselves as an electrician is appropriately qualified and registered.
A Member’s Bill, which is being proposed by Jamie Halcro Johnston, MSP, would be the culmination of a long-running campaign by SELECT and other leading industry bodies to make sure that those who work in the industry do so in a safe and competent manner.
A major survey carried out in 2018 showed that faulty electrical installations accounted for 7.1% of all fires in Scotland, and the damage caused to property by these fires cost in the region of £9.6million.
SELECT Managing Director Alan Wilson said: “At present, anyone can claim to be an electrician and work on an electrical installation. It cannot be right that those who have completed a full apprenticeship and who work in the industry in a safe and competent manner, can be compromised by those who call themselves electricians but who have no or inadequate qualifications.
“Our research suggests net benefits to Scotland from proper regulation of electricians of around £58million, including the benefits of higher electrical standards, such as fewer injuries and deaths, better functioning installations, less need for callbacks or for poor/unsafe work to be repaired, leading to improved customer satisfaction.”
Mr Wilson also pointed out in the consultation response that there was already a mechanism in place for registering individuals via the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) and that a robust scheme could be developed at very little additional cost.
He said: “A single register based on the existing SJIB model would provide the comfort and security that someone calling themselves an electrician was qualified and competent to undertake electrical work. It would also enhance the profession’s status and reputation by restricting opportunities for the unskilled or semi-skilled.”
Mr Wilson also believes that if the industry was regarded as a profession, it would potentially become more attractive to women, ethnic minorities and other entrants, leading to greater diversity and benefit to the country as a whole.
The need for qualified, professional electricians is only going to increase, he said, as the Scottish Government drives ahead with plans to decarbonise heat in buildings and the public sector estate, as well as investing in energy efficiency.
“Our future heating and energy demands, driven by the government’s own plans to increase more renewable installations and reduce our carbon footprint, means that electricians will play an ever-increasing role in delivering on these targets,” he said.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the general public thinks that our profession is regulated when it is not. People are genuinely very surprised when told that you need no formal qualifications to call yourself an electrician.
“All survey evidence points to a strong demand from the public that electricians should be qualified in the interests of consumer safety and now is the time to meet this demand.”
The consultation – which closes on 10 November – can be accessed at www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/115752.aspx