Scotland’s leading electrical bodies herald healthy pipeline of emerging young talent for 2024 and beyond

12/12/2023
SkillELECTRC winner Danny McBean

SCOTLAND’S leading electrical bodies say they are looking ahead to 2024 with confidence as new figures show a healthy pipeline of emerging young talent – but also insist that industry- led apprenticeships are the only way to deliver the future of skills development.

The Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and campaigning trade association SELECT have welcomed a report which shows the youthful age profile of Scotland’s electricians.

They also point to record recruitment levels over the past three years and recent triumphs in national apprentice competitions as further proof of a bright future, but also insist that such high standards can only be maintained by industry-approved training.

The bodies issued their statement after a new SJIB report found that of the 19,566 people in Scotland with an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) card, almost 40 per cent (7,813) are aged between 16 and 29, with just 19 per cent (3,836) aged 50 or over.

Some 4,603 (24 per cent) holders of the accreditation that permits holder to carry out electrical work are aged between 30 and 39, with 17 per cent (3,314) in the 40 to 49 bracket.

Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB, said: “These encouraging findings counter the oft-heard fears of an ageing workforce that won’t be replaced. Instead, it suggests an engaged and eager younger generation who are already embracing the challenge of new technology and will continue to safely heat and power our homes and business for generations to come.

“As the electrification of society continues, we are looking ahead to 2024 with confidence that a healthy pipeline of young talent is emerging, produce qualified electricians who have a solid, broad base of knowledge that can be added to with additional training as required.”

However, Ms Harper warned that there is no substitute for a proper apprenticeship and that the bodies would continue to rigorously promote proper employer-led training to ensure Scotland is served by competent professionals who work to the highest safety standards.

She went on: “There is only one route to becoming an electrician and that is undertaking the four-year Modern Apprenticeship in Electrical Installation, with top-up training for areas as needed, such as specialist renewable technology.

“We have previously warned about the dangers of ‘six-week wonders’ trying to enter the industry after taking just a short course in basic skills and we will continue to alert the sector and the wider public of the potentially dangerous consequences of employing such people.”

The new figures have emerged during another bumper year for electrical apprenticeships in Scotland, with 908 new starts and full classes for the 2023/24 intake following the 900-plus apprentices and adult trainees recruited for both 2022/23 and 2021/22.

Anne Galbraith, CEO of SECTT, which manages high-quality training on behalf of the SJIB, said: “The healthy state of electrical skills training in Scotland is reflected in the high apprentice and adult trainee intake for the past three years, with enthusiastic students, and committed employers, most of whom are members of SELECT.

“These employees are the future of the industry and it’s vital that everyone recognises the importance of the industry-led scheme which is an exemplar model.

“It’s crucial that an electrical apprenticeship continues to be the recognised route to market to ensure we train the workforce of the future in the skills they will need to deliver net zero successfully and safely.”

Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT, Scotland’s largest construction trade association, said the recent victory by a Scottish apprentice in the national SkillELECTRIC competition is a further indicator of the high standard of training north of the Border.

Danny McBean, 21, from SELECT member company Grants (Dufftown) Ltd, triumphed in the UK-wide skills contest in Manchester in November – the third Scottish apprentice to win the title in the past four years.

Alan said: “Danny scored top marks after excelling in a complicated electrical installation task against the very best young electrical talent from across the UK.

“His victory – and the achievements of other young Scots in previous years – reflects the quality of instruction that electrical apprentices and adult trainees currently receive at training centres across Scotland.

“As the country moves towards a wholly electricity-dependent economy, we must ensure that young talent like Danny is properly nurtured to guarantee both a brighter industry and a safer Scotland for years to come.”

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