ECS Check, a free-to-use digital system from the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme, allows the ECS card status of electrotechnical workers to be verified in real time throughout the supply chain. Here, Andy Reakes, Head of Operations, Employment and Skills at JIB, explains the system’s benefits for contractors and clients alike.
Where would we be without electricians? Whether you’re at home, in an office, factory or warehouse, the chances are there is something in your eyeline right now that has been installed by an electrician. The modern world relies on electricity for pretty much everything, and for it to do that our electrical installations, including everything from a power socket in a small house to a complex building controls system in a large commercial project, need to be installed competently and safely. So, if you’re a project manager, employer or a homeowner, you want to be confident in the knowledge that the electrician working for you possesses the required qualifications, experience, knowledge and skills.
The Joint Industry Board (JIB) is an impartial organisation that sets the standards for employment, welfare, grading and apprentice training in the electrical contracting industry. Our work is targeted at improving the industry, its status and productivity. For over 50 years, the JIB has verified applicants’ qualifications in order to issue them with a card and grading. ECS now has more than 175,000 valid cardholders who have been assessed in line with the standards set out by industry.
Identifying competence and raising the bar
The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) is the scheme of choice for the electrotechnical industry in the UK. The JIB administers the ECS scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the Scottish JIB administers the scheme.
The quality of an electrical installation depends on not only the electrical contractor’s company registration but, crucially, the person carrying out the work. We have now introduced ECS Check, a free online system that allows clients, contractors and others to verify the ECS card status of electrotechnical workers.
Via the ECS Check app for smartphones or tablets, clients or contractors can conduct their own audits to verify the electrotechnical personnel on site meet these requirements. So not only does the system inform client or contractors who will be on site, but also allows monitoring to be undertaken quickly and simply. It complements the ECS virtual card which is available to all card holders and can be accessed free of charge via a smartphone app.
Confidence for clients
Clients, main contractors and project managers can have confidence in the identity and quality of the electrical workforce on their projects through ECS Check’s online portal, which allows users to validate the electrical workforce on site and produce electronic summaries for auditing and reporting.
The system can also be used to promote apprenticeships, for example, by setting required numbers or proportions to be met for apprentices or trainees on a project. This workforce management platform helps identify and encourage social and best value in procurement as well as allowing clients to specify the expected levels of qualification and competency.
Benefits for businesses
More and more contractors are recognising the benefits of ensuring they have qualified workers on their jobs and raising standards to achieve competence. Using ECS Check, businesses can verify that ECS cardholders are qualified to the required level for the job and prevent individuals slipping through the net using fraudulent or forged certificates.
ECS uses a specially designed computer program to verify qualifications directly with awarding bodies like City and Guilds and EAL, so companies can have confidence in the process as well as helping to digitise this onboarding process.
Mace, a global consultancy and construction company, has been enjoying the system’s benefits, as Nigel Jones, Senior M&E Manager, explained: “Mace look to continuously improve to remain that one step ahead of our competitors with innovation and the search for a better way – we were therefore delighted to be using the new ECS Check service. Mace teams will be able to satisfy themselves that the electrical operatives on site are qualified and experienced, giving confidence for both Mace and their clients that that their works should be carried out safely by these highly skilled operatives.”
ECS Check is recognised as a Licence to Practice system in Northern Ireland under Procurement Guidance Note 01/16 and is helping to avoid unnecessary duplication of work by providing a free to access, online system which gives real time access to the ECS database. This means no requirement to rely on emailed photos of cards or certificates and this can all be accessed through one online portal. The system is also being used as a means to verify elements of the competence framework recommended by the Competence Working Groups (as part of the Hackitt Review) and will be increasingly important for electrical, fire, emergency and security systems installers in high risk residential buildings.
In helping to promote a safer working environment and raise employment standards, ECS Check plays an important role in establishing the highest levels of on-site competency in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.