As the construction industry gets ready to return to work, the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) have stressed the importance of preparing the next generation of electricians through the pre-apprenticeship programme.
Since its launch in 2000, the programme has given thousands of youngsters a thorough grounding in the industry and provided employers with a succession of confident and well-equipped apprentices.
The SJIB and SECTT now say this pathway from school to college and full-time employment as an Electrical Installation Modern Apprentice will be more vital than ever in the new industrial landscape.
Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB, says, “As we emerge and refocus from the pandemic, rebuilding the construction industry and preparing the next generation of electricians has never been more important.
“Once employers are ready to take on apprentices again, those who have taken a pre-apprenticeship programme will make extremely attractive candidates. The pre-apprenticeship programme is vital as it gives people of any age a purpose and helps prepare them for the time when employers will contemplate taking on apprentices and adult trainees again.”
Delivered at colleges across Scotland working with SECTT on behalf of the SJIB, the programme was launched in 2000 as an enhancement to the Modern Apprenticeship in Electrical Installation.
It now provides would-be electricians with basic training in hand skills, health and safety and an understanding of the college system. Pre-apprentices are also provided with personal protective clothing by SECTT and, once they have completed the health and safety requirements, are awarded an SJIB ECS safety card to allow them on site.
Anne Galbraith, CEO of SECTT, adds, “The advantages of the programme are three-fold, with pre-apprentices, employers and colleges all benefiting. Pre-apprentices gain an invaluable insight into the role of an electrician, helping them to make an informed career choice. Employers gain a ‘job ready’ candidate who has shown a good attitude and understanding of what’s required. And when the pre-apprentices return for a Modern Apprenticeship, colleges gain students who are motivated and understand the college system.”
This programme is offered in a number of colleges that already deliver the SJIB Electrical Apprenticeship and Adult Training Scheme, and can be delivered in different ways to suit each college’s resources.
Courses are delivered on either a full or part-time basis, with some colleges offering the Building Services National Progression Award or Electrical National Certificate, and others providing a mix of units with a college certificate.
Harper furthers, “Thanks to more than two decades’ worth of experience, pre-apprenticeships are extremely flexible; they’re not prescriptive and designed by SECTT and the individual colleges to suit the needs of today’s candidates.”
Galbraith adds, “The commitment of college staff and SECTT training officers has been pivotal to the ongoing success of this programme. Between them, they help pre-apprentices develop a greater understanding of the electrical industry and make them ‘job ready’ so they are attractive to potential employers.
“It’s taken a number of years to gain employer confidence in the programme, but employers are now actively asking for people who’ve taken part and are increasingly recruiting from the course first as they can see the positive benefits. As a result, employers are closely engaged with the programme as it helps them identify the qualities and resilience required to take the next step on their electrical career path.”
The topic of pre-apprentice programmes has recently been discussed by a number of bodies, including the Scottish Government’s Cross-Party Group on Skills, the Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Group and ESP, a collaboration of Scotland’s colleges and industry partners.
Galbraith concludes, “I am proud of the positive impact that the Electrical Pre-apprenticeship programme has had on so many young people, and that impact will now be more vital than ever before. The return to college will be a challenging one, with many class numbers being halved and workshop times being at a premium. However, with careful management gained from 20 years of experience, the Pre-apprentice Programme will continue to inspire the next generation of electricians and provide employers with a truly motivated workforce.”