Scotland’s leading electric bodies herald healthy pipeline of emerging young talent

Danny McBean, 21, from SELECT member company Grants (Dufftown) Ltd, triumphed in the UK-wide skills contest in Manchester in November

Scotland’s leading electrical bodies say they are looking ahead to 2024 with confidence as new figures show a healthy pipeline of emerging young talent. 

But they insist that industry-led apprenticeships are the only way to deliver the future of skills development. 

The Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and campaigning trade association SELECT have welcomed a report which shows the youthful age profile of Scotland’s electricians.

They also point to record recruitment levels over the past three years and recent triumphs in national apprentice competitions as further proof of a bright future, but also insist that such high standards can only be maintained by industry-approved training.

The bodies issued their statement after a new SJIB report found that of the 19,566 people in Scotland with an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) card, almost 40% (7,813) are aged between 16 and 29, with just 19% (3,836) aged 50 or over.

Some 4,603 (24%) holders of the accreditation that permits holder to conduct electrical work are aged between 30 and 39, with 17% (3,314) in the 40 to 49 bracket.

Fiona Harper, the secretary of the SJIB, said: “These encouraging findings counter the oft-heard fears of an ageing workforce that won’t be replaced. 

“Instead, it suggests an engaged and eager younger generation who are already embracing the challenge of new technology and will continue to safely heat and power our homes and business for generations to come.

“As the electrification of society continues, we are looking ahead to 2024 with confidence that a healthy pipeline of young talent is emerging, produce qualified electricians who have a solid, broad base of knowledge that can be added to with additional training as required.” 

However, Harper warned that there is no substitute for a proper apprenticeship and that the bodies would continue to rigorously promote proper employer-led training to ensure Scotland is served by competent professionals who work to the highest safety standards.

The new figures have emerged during another bumper year for electrical apprenticeships in Scotland, with 908 new starts and full classes for the 2023/24 intake following the 900-plus apprentices and adult trainees recruited for both 2022/23 and 2021/22.

Alan Wilson, managing director of SELECT, Scotland’s largest construction trade association, said the recent victory by a Scottish apprentice in the national SkillELECTRIC competition is a further indicator of the high standard of training north of the Border.

Danny McBean, 21, from SELECT member company Grants (Dufftown) Ltd, triumphed in the UK-wide skills contest in Manchester in November – the third Scottish apprentice to win the title in the past four years.

Wilson said: “Danny scored top marks after excelling in a complicated electrical installation task against the very best young electrical talent from across the UK.

“His victory – and the achievements of other young Scots in previous years – reflects the quality of instruction that electrical apprentices and adult trainees currently receive at training centres across Scotland.

“As the country moves towards a wholly electricity-dependent economy, we must ensure that young talent like Danny is properly nurtured to guarantee both a brighter industry and a safer Scotland for years to come.”

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