The importance of individual competence in the electrical industry

Competence is a hot topic in the electrical industry, with a focus on the individual coming under more scrutiny than ever before. But why is it so important?

The obvious reason is one of safety. If the electrician working on an installation is truly competent, then the installation is more likely to meet safety requirements. As not every notifiable job can always be checked by a QS, this immediately gives both employers and customers peace of mind about the work being carried out.

It also saves time and money on re-work. Having confidence that a job has been done properly the first time around reduces the risk for contractors and their clients of spending precious budget and missing deadlines, due to costly re-work needing to be undertaken to fix mistakes made by under-qualified or under-experienced employees.

How can you measure individual competence?

A simple way to approach this is to assess an individual against a recognised benchmark.  The IET has years of experience in this area, working with the Engineering Council (the regulatory body for the UK engineering profession) to award professional registration, such as Chartered Engineer (CEng), to our members who meet a strict set of criteria known as UK-SPEC.

Once the agreed criteria are met and an application is successful, an engineer can use letters after their name (e.g. CEng) to prove to employers and their industry colleagues that they have met the standard.

The IET has taken this concept and make it relevant to the electrical industry. A new category of professional registration, Electrician EngTech, is now available to anyone in the industry who wants to demonstrate their competence by being registered as an Engineering Technician (EngTech).

Electrician EngTech works to a slightly amended version of UK-SPEC, considering the qualifications, experience and routes into the industry that are specific to the electrical profession. Applications are assessed by a peer-review panel – other electrical professionals who have already been awarded professional registration – to verify that the applicant’s experience and/or qualifications are suitably relevant to demonstrate their professional competence. Those who have simply undertaken a week-long course are unlikely to meet the necessary requirements.

Like the other engineering registration categories, Electrician EngTech works as a benchmark. The public, employers and their clients can trust that a registrant’s competence has been peer-assessed and meets UK-SPEC. It improves career prospects and employability by showing employers an individual’s commitment to maintaining their knowledge and skills.

Does Electrician EngTech provide ongoing competence assessment?

Yes! To maintain a category of professional registration, registrants must complete Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year. This can include anything from attending a training course to reading news and articles to keep up with industry developments. It can even include volunteering for an industry body (such as the IET) or a local organisation in your spare time. Anything that develops your professional or vocational skills counts towards your CPD. And, of course, you must keep up with industry standards, such as BS 7671.

To help employers realise the benefit of professional registration for their teams, and for anyone wanting to explore their options further, the IET is running a series of complimentary workshops covering the qualifications/experience needed, the application process and how to get started. A technical expert will also be on hand to answer your questions on BS 7671.

If you want to demonstrate your professional competence, stand out to employers and your peers, or if you would like to arrange a complimentary workshop for your team, visit theiet.org/elec-engtech-ecn or contact electechs@theiet.org

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