SELECT: Professional status for electricians will attract more diversity into crucial industry



An increasingly diverse new range of talent is likely to be attracted to the electrotechnical sector in Scotland if it is finally recognised by Parliament as a profession, according to the trade body for the sector.

Alan Wilson

With the enhanced professional credibility that Protection of Title would bring, SELECT said that more people – including women and minorities– are likely to view it as a desirable career option, enriching the talent pool at a time when the need and use of electricity is growing on an almost daily basis.

Alan Wilson, who became managing director of SELECT last month, said: “We are in a rapidly changing environment and electricity is the fuel both of now and of the future. It is vital that we capture the best people for the industry.”

In conjunction with a number of industry bodies, including the SJIB and SECTT, SELECT has been masterminding a campaign to regulate the industry for some years now and has progressed the issue through the Scottish Parliament to the point that a Member’s Bill on the issue is being prepared.

Jamie Halcro Johnson, MSP, sponsor of the Bill, recognises that as well as helping safeguard the public from unqualified individuals, the professional status which protection of title would introduce would have a very positive effect on interest in, and recruitment to, the sector.

There is also an awareness that the birth rate in Scotland has halved since 1964 and is now outstripped by the death rate, meaning that Scotland has a declining population at a time when the demand for electrical professionals has never been greater.

Mr Wilson said: “The UK Government has announced plans to consider phasing out the installation gas boilers in new build properties from 2025, replacing them with renewable energy products. The move to electrical vehicles is now unstoppable and we live our lives via our phones and tablets. There is no doubt that electricity is the fuel of now and the future.

“It is becoming clear that perceptions of working with electricity are changing. It is now seen as highly technical, highly skilled and demanding an enquiring and flexible mind.”

Acknowledging that “unconscious bias” may remain among parents about perceptions around traditional trades, Mr Wilson predicted that the move to professional status would have the effect of breaking a logjam.

He said: “We are in the fortunate position at the moment of having more applicants for apprenticeships than posts, but we cannot rest on our laurels and we have to make the profession as attractive as possible for future generations.”

His predictions were backed by Fiona Harper, the secretary of the Scottish Joint Industry Board, who said: “Protection of Title and the importance of fully trained electricians would lift the industry to the next level. Professional status would almost certainly attract applicants from a wider pool.”

Anne Galbraith, chief executive of the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust, added: “Scotland does face a skills challenge so attracting the best young, and indeed more mature, entrants that we can to the electrical industry is crucial. Bringing in a more diverse range of talent will have a hugely beneficial effect.”

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