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Conservative Conference – Is it time for a Licence to Practice?

Yesterday I attended the Conservative Conference with Lantei Compliance Services who were hosting a fringe event titled – Is it time for an Electrician Licence to Practice? I wanted to take advantage of the day and see what was on offer so go there early to attend a number of other fringe events.


The first fringe event I attended was – Energy Policy and the Industrial Strategy, What’s The Plan? The event had the following panel;


Claire Perry MP


Paul Spence – EDF


John Moylan – ex BBC


Nick Baveystock – Institute of Civil Engineers


Most of the discussion went over my head but the key points which worried me were the need to have more homes with Solar PV and battery storage. My worry was not the vision as this is the logical path for our country to move towards renewables etc. I was concerned that there was no discussion around who will do this and whether the country has the technical capabilities to address the governments strategy. As Claire Perry MP stated, “a strategy is not a plan”, this is correct, as part of the task to develop that strategy we need to stop sitting in silos thinking of the end result and start looking at the tasks involved to get us there. My concern here is that the government will pile billions into a ‘plan’ and a ‘timescale’ only to back us into a corner and need help from other countries labour as we won’t have enough. I may be wrong.


The event also talked a lot about innovation yet the things they were talking about have been around for years. Paul Spence from EDF mentioned a monitoring system for energy consumption on vulnerable people’s properties so that we can see if the usage drops and thus visit to check if the person living there is ok. So let me get this right, a device notifies a call centre when the usage drops off, I may be wrong here but people don’t normally stop using electric or gas before they die, that’s normally the result of the death.


I would love the opportunity to meet with Paul and other members of this panel as I believe there are a few good ideas floating around my head about the strategy for this.


After that fringe event, I visited a few stands and talked to a few people about TCW and the many functions we have access to that we’ve not discussed or pushed to the market yet. The one comment that stood out which I love is ‘someone hasn’t thought of that already??’. Some of the most successful products in the world are tarnished with that statement!!!!!! Anyway, in terms of The Compliance Workbook, the Conservative Conference was extremely beneficial.


So the time came to talk about an Electrician Licence and whether this is something we need. Although we didn’t have hundreds of people at the event we did have a great discussion around the current schemes and a LtP. Let’s just clarify the base of the discussion….


Northern Ireland already has a fantastic brand called SparkSafe LtP. It works. Derek Thompson the CEO of SparkSafe was part of the discussion and explained what it is and how it works in Northern Ireland for client assurance. Over the last year or so a number of my contacts across the rest of the UK have been asking me what my thoughts are about SparkSafe. I will step outside of my box at the bottom of this article and give you my view.


The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) and the Joint Industry Board (JIB) are pushing a Licence to Practice live this month. Whether this is in response to SparkSafe starting to step into the rest of the UK or not, it creates confusion for the consumer. The ECA and JIB are looking to push the register live and give people the ability to have a virtual card which you can download from their portal. There also looking to have a “register” for Professional Electricians who meet the current edition of wiring regulations etc.


To add to all of this, NAPIT and NICEIC are creating another one together in response to ECA and JIB doing one. I hope you’re following this.


Let’s be frank about the above. If SparkSafe LtP entered the whole of the UK and was used for “Individual Accountability”, which it is not developed or positioned for, there would be no need for any scheme. This would be the wrong move for our industry and is why the other schemes are scrabbling.


I said I would give you my view so here goes.


Our industry needs a central database where registered electricians are logged and it needs to be publicly searchable. We should still have a choice for Competent Person Schemes as this is a financial decision for the contractor but, each scheme should be tasked with assessments of individuals and then held accountable for the uploading of said INDIVIDUALS to the register. This is pretty much what Clive Betts MP and the DCLG have been asking for but are being ignored. The SparkSafe model would make a good portal for assurance for the consumer.


If the above was ever considered I would give my time free of charge to promote and assist in its development. We have to do something.


I’d like to clarify a point which I made yesterday at the fringe event. I am a supporter of the schemes in our industry now, I may criticise them now and again but, the truth is, if they were not about we would be in a worse position than we are. I just wish they would look towards working together instead of playing the monopoly game!!!!

Ryan Dempsey - CEO
Ryan Dempsey

Over the last few years I have found myself in a very fortunate position where I can implement and promote change in the Social Housing sector. My passion and drive to improve Electrical Safety continually fuels my motivation to implement slight changes to engineer and industry work patterns in the hope the mentality currently sitting in the engineering industry can change. We need to ensure the right people with the right skills and experience are working in and around the properties we provide. Not only that, we need to ensure the workforce are the people talking and helping develop the standards we work towards. Improved quality assurance and the avoidance of the 'status quo' should be a starting point in any organisations route to complete compliance. Improved compliance at all levels will improve the safety and sustainability of the properties we provide and manage. The key to improve risk management is to pinpoint the areas of risk and manage these individually. Don't over complicate a simple process. We also need to ensure those with a similar passion speak up and be counted for. It's time for change and that means moving out the old and replacing with the new. All the views and opinions on here are my own and not that of any company I am associated with.

  • Avatar
    Anthony Smith
    Posted at 11:27 am, 5th December 2017

    Would it be a good ideas if something like this Spark Safe model existed that, instead of making someone wealthy, every penny made was given to grass root projects, charities. Community projects, youth groups and such

    I’d be up for that, the creation of a single scheme for the individual that was removed from the traditional providers which maintained some sort of commercial impartiality, not only acted as contractor vetting for the client but has a significant positive impact on communities.

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    Bryan Davies
    Posted at 11:28 am, 5th December 2017

    I’m sure sparksafe will make Derek very wealthy, unless the government makes manitory laws for regulation the cowboys will always get away with it.
    Let’s face it, if the government really wanted to do something about it they would.
    I guess when Bs7671 is still only a guide and not the law with criminal implications for serious breaches of good installation and wiring practice it will simply be yet another expensive club to be in.
    I would like the IET/BSI to run a scheme with government to shut down companies or sole traders who are found to be working unsafely.

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    Jeff Parry MILT
    Posted at 11:28 am, 5th December 2017

    Having worked in the aerospace industry, I cannot understand why safety is not as important in others. Everything us checked, double checked and personally signed off and certified. Surely the same should apply in construction, automotive and engineering. Every person on the tools held personally accountable for their work. There should also be proper, enforced regulation and cowboys run out of industry.

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    Dan Jackson MIET
    Posted at 11:30 am, 5th December 2017

    I do believe there should be a licence to practise in the UK. Derek Thompson SparkSafe scheme is a great scheme. I can’t help but feel many existing schemes are in place for revenue purposes instead of the sole purpose why the wiring Regulations are in place – SAFETY. They just don’t work. I see dog crap work day in day out and it’s getting worse. There is no monitoring or accountability.

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    Ryan Dempsey
    Posted at 11:31 am, 5th December 2017

    My point completely. if something like this existed it would have to seamlessly fit in without requiring money from the consumer. Its a safety register which schemes contribute from their memberships. The industry shouldn’t suffer.

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    Karl R Hunter
    Posted at 11:31 am, 5th December 2017

    Too many associations for the same thing. For “licence to practice” read “yet another money making scam”.

  • Avatar
    Robert Preston MIET
    Posted at 11:32 am, 5th December 2017

    The people with nothing to hide and nothing to gain except ‘competency’ across the sector know there should be.

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