At present, a bespoke scheme is not generally available for our industry and existing apprenticeship schemes are not specifically tailored for our industry needs. Note that the current discussions are in England and that there are different apprenticeship systems in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The North West Training Council (NWTC) are currently delivering an apprenticeship pathway to local panel manufacturers/system builders which, given enough nationwide interest from other manufacturers, could potentially be made more widely available with the noticeable benefits for both manufacturers and employees.
The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), GAMBICA and BEAMA have been involved in discussions with NWTC, GTA England and JTL and several different companies who seek skilled workers in panel building, wiring and similar.
Employers have over recent years reported numerous training methods, in the absence of a common industry apprenticeship. Some continue to recruit apprentices; others have developed in-house training. However, many others rely on an informal “learning on the job”. All companies agreed that the present situation is unsustainable, given the shortages of skilled people and a lack of an industry recognised qualification.
Access to construction sites is becoming increasingly problematic as there is an emerging requirement for formal qualifications.
As part of the discussions it has also been recognised that the Panel Builder and Wireman pathway would need to consider the specific requirements for both motor control panels and distribution switchgear. Additionally, options for existing experienced workers will be considered for those who are already competent and experienced but may not have recognised formal qualifications. This would be via an experienced worker assessment process.
From a financial perspective, for those employers who are apprenticeship levy paying, this proposed apprenticeship would qualify for levy funding in England. Smaller firms who do not pay the levy should also be able to claim direct funding from the Government under England’s non-levy arrangements.
All of the Panel Builders who have been contacted so far have shown considerable interest and are keen to support the scheme, however to achieve a successful apprenticeship pathway in England we need to demonstrate that there are sufficient numbers of employers nationally to attract the widespread interest from training and assessment providers.
We therefore encourage all panel building companies and OEMs to register your potential interest in this initiative. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org from the BEAMA Trade Association. Following your initial interest, we would welcome the opportunity to include your company for further engagement. Only with your involvement will it be possible to demonstrate that there is sufficient scale to proceed further with this scheme.
Note: we also welcome contact from companies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales with a view to supporting the development of similar initiatives in all regions.
BEAMA is the UK leading trade association representing manufacturers of electrical infrastructure products and systems from transmission through distribution to the environmental systems and services in the built environment. Our expertise also stretches beyond electrical products into water safety & hygiene and water treatment.
We work with our members to ensure their interests are well represented in the relevant political, regulatory and standardisation issues at UK, EU & International levels.
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