Scotland’s leading electrical bodies 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 showcasing the youthful age profile of Scottish 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. They 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% (7,813), are aged between 16 and 29, with just 19% (3,836) aged 50 or over.
Some 4,603 (24%) holders of the accreditation permitting them to carry out electrical work are aged between 30-39, with 17% (3,314) in the 40-49 bracket.
Fiona Harper, Secretary of the SJIB, says “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 businesses 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, producing qualified electricians who have a solid, broad base of knowledge that can be added to with additional training as required.”
However, Fiona warned that there is no substitute for a proper apprenticeship and that the bodies would continue to rigorously promote employer-led training. This ensures Scotland is served by competent professionals who work to the highest safety standards.
She continues, “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.”
New figures 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 2022/23 and 2021/22.
As a further testament to the youthful age profile of Scottish electricians, Danny McBean, 21, from SELECT member company Grants (Dufftown) Ltd, triumphed in the UK-wide skills contest in Manchester in November, becoming the third Scottish apprentice to win the title in the past four years.