The long-running campaign by SELECT, the Scottish Joint Industry Board (The SJIB) and Unite the Union, for recognition of Electricians as a Profession achieved a major milestone when the issue was debated in the Scottish Parliament.
In a wide-ranging discussion, MSPs from all parties debated the call for the privilege of calling a person an electrician to be limited only to those who are qualified in this highly-skilled profession.
The Holyrood debate was opened by Jamie Halcro Johnston, Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP for the Highlands and Islands, who has backed the campaign in the interests of public safety from its early stages.
During the debate, Mr Halcro Johnston told parliament that he had been staggered to learn that the people who entered our homes and businesses to install and maintain our wiring, fuse boxes and appliances need have no qualifications at all and yet they can still call themselves electricians.
Responding to the debate, Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, thanked MSPs for their contributions and said that discussions would continue with the aim of bringing a ministerial view to parliament in due course.
Alan Wilson, Acting Managing Director at SELECT, the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland, thanked the MSPs who initially signed the Motion and who took part in the debate.
He said: “Protection of Title has been at the forefront of our work for a number of years. In fact it was triggered following a speech by a Government Minister at a European Electrical contractors ‘conference held in Edinburgh in 2015. We are very grateful to have received support from Unite the union, the SJIB other trade bodies and politicians from all parties.
“It is a major issue. The overall cost of poor and potentially dangerous electrical work in Scotland is around £120 million a year. It is serious matter of public safety.
“Recognition of the vital role that qualified electricians play in all parts of Scottish society is long overdue. These are highly-trained, uniquely qualified professional people whose contribution to modern life is immense.”
Mr Halcro Johnston pointed out that, while more than 100 regulated professions exist in the UK – including gas engineers and even door supervisors at clubs – there is no protection afforded to electricians. His motion asked Parliament to recognise that improperly-installed electrical work creates a significant risk of fire as well as other harm to householders and that the installation of electrical work by unqualified or part qualified individuals carries a major safety risk.