The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils

ECA switches on new campaign to get women Wired for Success

24 Oct 2011

The Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) has today (24 October) launched its Wired for Success: ECA Women into Electrical Contracting campaign. The innovative two-year initiative aims to challenge perceptions and break down the barriers that prevent women – who are currently under-represented in the electrical contracting industry – from entering the sector.

Working with its principal partner, social housing provider L&Q, 12 female residents have been selected to train for a new domestic electrician qualification. The NVQ Level 3 certificate* is expected to be launched in early 2012, and will offer the women a chance to start a career in the industry.
The campaign is spearheaded by the ECA’s Skills Ambassador, and former first female President (2010-11) Diane Johnson. She says: “The Wired for Success Initiative takes an issue that is plaguing Government – getting people into work – and provides a blueprint for success, while tackling a potentially crippling industry problem head on.” Johnson continues: “At the same time, we are looking at how we, as an industry, can respond to the demands of our customer. We believe Wired for Success will do this by catering to markets that are more welcoming to perhaps the more vulnerable people in our society; the elderly, single women and women from ethnic backgrounds with strict cultural rules.”
At present, less than one per cent of qualified operatives in the electrical industry are women, while they make up more than half the population**. And with the domestic sector accounting for 20 per cent of electrical contracting projects, the ECA believes the very nature of the domestic sector means it can more easily accommodate the needs of both work and home life, making it perfect for women. Johnson adds: “We hope this new Initiative will encourage underrepresented groups to come into the industry, with the domestic sector as the entry point.”
The ECA enlisted specialist training provider, EAS Education, to develop a flexible programme of learning, combining classroom based tutorials with practical experience. The onsite element of the training will be undertaken at its three contractor partners’ sites: Axis, Mulalley and Smith & Byford.
Martin Payne, MD of EAS Group comments: “The training programme will not only provide the women with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience to meet present demand within the domestic market, but instil the skills and confidence to allow them to start-up their own business if they so wish. We have also created a one-year bridging qualification, which would allow those interested to build on their skills and qualify them to work in the Commercial and Industrial sector, taking real steps to plug the current skills gap.”
Johnson concludes: “We truly believe this initiative is a blueprint for success which can not only be replicated in other craft sectors, but has wider applications. We hope that others will follow suit and adopt this strategy.”
The initiative is supported by SummitSkills, the sector skills council for the electrotechnical and other building services engineering industries. Keith Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of SummitSkills said: “We applaud the Wired for Success initiative, which addresses a long-standing issue for the industry. The UK will need the skills of many talented people from all sorts of backgrounds in future. We want to make sure that the right training is being made available to everyone in the electrotechnical industry and we think this initiative will help to safeguard standards while encouraging a more diverse range of people to pursue a rewarding career in the sector.”



* The new domestic qualification that the women will work to is a Level 3 NVQ Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installation Work in Dwellings. At the time of issuing, the name and details are yet to be confirmed.
** ONS Census, 2001: First results on population in England and Wales

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