SELECT has urged electricians to take part in a second consultation on the regulation of the electrical industry – and says only government legislation can bring about “comfort and security” to customers.
Scotland’s largest construction trade association is asking Members and the wider industry to make their views known in the latest appeal for feedback, which has been launched by Jamie Hepburn, MSP, the Minister for Business, Fair work and Skills.
The campaigning trade body says the consultation reflects the strength of feeling within the sector, after a first consultation by Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston closed last November with more than 140 submissions – more than 90% of which were positive.
Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT, says: “This is another great opportunity for the industry to take part in and shape the future and is a further chance for Scotland to demonstrate that we are committed to comfort and security for customers.
“We would urge all interested parties to make their submission to this latest consultation before it closes on February 12. They can also submit a letter in support of our own letter, which we will be submitting shortly.”
Mr Wilson said any real and effective change must be underpinned by legislation, adding that voluntary regimes have never addressed the issue of dangerous and poor work which is often undertaken by unqualified or partially qualified persons.
In SELECT’s letter to the consultation, he states: “The construction industry is littered with schemes which are operated on a ‘voluntary’ basis and whilst we would all like to imagine that such an approach would achieve change, there is no evidence to show that this form of approach ever works. Any real and effective change must be underpinned by legislation. Maintaining the status quo is not an option.
“The Scottish Government needs to introduce a package of measures which must include Protection of Title. Establishing a single register based on the existing Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) model would provide the comfort and security to a customer that someone calling themselves an electrician was qualified and competent.”
Following the first consultation last year, Mr Halcro Johnston is now preparing to present a proposed Holyrood Member’s Bill outlining the comprehensive case for regulation.
And Mr Wilson adds: “There is a strong economic case for legislation. Scotland is investing £1.6 billion over the next five year in decarbonising heat in buildings and it makes sense that those undertaking that programme are trained, qualified and competent.
“But there is also a social side. Protecting title and making the role of electrician a profession will lead to greater interest in the industry and more opportunities for women and ethnic minorities to join it, which would be a significant advantage to us all.
“Finally, there is overwhelming evidence that the public already thinks that the profession is regulated when of course it is not. People are genuinely surprised when told that you need no formal qualifications to call yourself an electrician. All survey evidence points to this and to a strong demand from the public that electricians should be qualified in the interests of consumer safety.”
The consultation is the latest stage in SELECT’s long-running campaign with other leading industry bodies, such as the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and the SJIB to make sure that those who work in the industry do so in a safe and competent manner.
The campaign has won backing from a wide range of prominent figures, with its Wall of Support now including more than 100 politicians, electricians, industry figures and representatives of trade associations and professional services bodies.