The apprenticeship route is fast becoming the de facto way of becoming a qualified electrician in the United Kingdom as electrotechnical assessment specification tightens up to ensure quality and safety in an expanding market. An electrical apprenticeship is a three-to-four-year commitment that nearly all qualified electricians will have passed through.
I’m Jon from SERT, a qualified, time-served electrician and member of the IET, and in this blog I will be introducing the key concepts of the electrical apprenticeship and why this is fast becoming a mandatory process, that is far more reliable, and coveted, than other electrical training programmes.
So why is the apprenticeship effectively mandatory now? Well in December 2020 the ‘Electrotechnical Assessment Specification’ released by the IET, and the electrical installation industry was updated to ensure quality and safety are maintained. There are now only three ways to join one of the competent persons’ self-certification schemes and be able to self-certificate your own work.
They are as follows:
- Level 3 Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings (limited scope to work in dwellings only)
- Industry-approved apprenticeship and recognised historical industry qualifications
- Electrotechnical Experienced Worker Assessment
As you can see, this is effectively directing learners towards a time-served apprenticeship, and away from the various intensive short courses that have been offered by some training providers.
An electrical apprenticeship is organic, and it can come in many different shapes and forms, but it reliant on combination of ‘knowledge units’, ‘performance units’ and an ‘end-point assessment’. These three items result in a robust qualification that proves you have the necessary competence to install, maintain, and confirm the on-going safety of electrical installations in this country.
Conventionally the ‘knowledge’ units will be undertaken at a college or training provider alongside your electrical apprenticeship, however this is not always the case. It is possible to attend a college or training provider full time for two years to achieve just the knowledge units, such at the City and Guilds level 2 & 3 2365, and then use this to demonstrate your commitment to a prospective employer to gain an apprenticeship. So long as you start your apprenticeship within five years, we can carry out something called recognition of prior learning, and then use this to exempt you from all the ‘knowledge’ units on your electrical apprenticeship qualification leaving you with just the ‘performance’ units and ‘end point assessment’. This is the route that I took to become qualified as I was unable find an apprenticeship in my area. I studied full-time for two years and my name was put forward to a prospective employer, who I ended up staying with for four years.
The ‘performance’ units will require you to create a portfolio of evidence out in the working environment and will be your opportunity to show off your skills and everything that you’ve learned throughout your electrical apprenticeship. You’ll be expected to demonstrate your competency in the installation of various cables and electrical containments, as well as your ability to work in a safe working manner, run a job, liaise with other trades, fault-find an electrical installation, and carry out initial verification to confirm an installation is safe to be energised and used. Your portfolio can be made up of photographic evidence, reflective accounts, witness testimonies, direct observation by a qualified electrical assessor, and different forms of questioning.
The ‘performance’ units may take a few years to complete as you will be expected to gather evidence after you’ve learned various skills, and some areas may be harder to achieve than others. For example, I primarily worked carrying out electrical installation condition reports and fault finding, and while this was in both domestic and commercial settings, it did result in me struggling to gather evidence of my ability to install certain containments.
Every employer will have a different range of work they can offer you, and you must never be afraid to ask to do something an alternative way. After all, you want to learn every available skill, don’t you?
Finally, comes the ‘end-point assessment’, AM2. This model of knowledge, performance, and final assessment was so effective that in 2017 the Government rolled this out across all apprenticeships in the UK.
The AM2 is a three-day exam that is undertaken at an independent provider. It requires you to carry out a specific installation over the course of 10-hours and is intended to prove that you can install, terminate, and test a specific series of cables and containments, follow a wiring diagram, follow specifications, and design an installation from some basic design data. You are also expected to on different regulations. This comprehensive test of your skills will allow you to prove yourself conduct a risk assessment, fault-finding, testing your installation and take a simple online exam. If you are successful, you achieve a qualification that you can use to prove your competency as an electrician.
I hope this has provided you with a basic understanding in what is required to complete an apprenticeship in electrical installation, and a view of the different ways that you may become a qualified electrician. Four years may seem like a long time, but in the grand scheme, but it’s not much time at all in the context of your career and will result in you having skills and abilities that will follow you for the rest of your life. Electricity is a huge and diverse industry, which is expanding with the focus on renewables and less reliance on fossil fuels, and there are many routes you can explore in your career as a qualified electrician.
If you would like any further information or guidance, please do not hesitate to call us 01489 232080/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our helpful sales staff will be able to offer you all the guidance you need.