Electricians are the lynchpin of the EV charge point rollout, says ECA

The ECA has responded to this week’s EV infrastructure report by the SMMT, stressing the need for higher standards of training and competence in the electrotechnical workforce.

While ECA broadly supports calls for an electric vehicle charge point (EVCP) watchdog and a 5 per cent VAT regime for public charging, the body has stressed the point that there can be no EV charge point network in the UK without an upskilled electrical workforce – a point that is missing from the SMMT’s report.

ECA highlighted the ‘wild west’ training and qualifications landscape for professionals wanting to install EVCPs. Many available courses offer little in the way of competency and serve only to perpetuate low industry standards.

ECA Energy Solutions Advisor Luke Osborne comments: “We agree wholeheartedly with the SMMT’s statement that electric vehicle charging really should be as easy and uneventful as refuelling.

“But before consumers are put at the centre of charge point policy, regulation needs to catch up to ensure properly qualified electrical professionals are at the heart of the UK’s strategy to become a world leader in electric vehicle infrastructure.

“A robust framework of competencies and qualifications is sorely needed to ensure that anyone carrying out EVCP installation has a solid foundation of electrical competence.”

ECA Director of Workforce and Public Affairs Andrew Eldred says: “There are up to 342,000 people already employed in the UK electrical sector who could readily be upskilled to meet the sharp rise in demand for charge points.

“But first, we need binding targets, not just for charge point provision but for skills provision and competency.

“Until then, we risk perpetuating a ‘wild west’ skills culture that will bring standards down, risk public safety and hold us back in the race to Net Zero Carbon.”

ECA has also urged government and local authorities to address the ‘postcode lottery’ of publicly available charge points and invest more equitably in the infrastructure rollout.

According to the Skills 4 Climate industry survey report, produced by a coalition of UK engineering services trade bodies including ECA, BESA, the REA and Solar Energy UK, almost 9 in 10 (88%) of engineering services contractors say they support a green economic recovery form the pandemic.

However, almost half (48%) said there is not sufficient industry training available to develop green skills.

Nearly three quarters (71%) support reduced VAT on energy-related activity. Just under two thirds (57%) want the Government to invest more heavily in technical education to help close the skills gap.

A Freedom of Information request made by ECA in late 2021 revealed that two thirds (66%) of local authorities do not have plans in place for EV charge points. Half (48%) of them did not currently operate any EV charge points. A further 60% said they have no funds earmarked for future EV charging infrastructure.

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