SELECT, the campaigning trade body for Scotland’s electrical sector, and their Scottish Joint Industry Board partners Unite the Union are about to unveil a root and branch reform of a major element of its vital electrical training assessment programme.
The organisation has spent the last two years comprehensively updating and upgrading the Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA), which ensures that apprentice training has been successfully accomplished. And its reforms go far beyond the minor revisions originally envisaged.
A soft launch of the new FICA took place last month and the new assessment will be fully implemented in August this year.
Fiona Harper, of SELECT explained that the FICA, which was first established in 1998, is a crucial part of the modern apprenticeship programme, which leads to an SVQ Level 3 qualification. While most Level 3 courses have seven units, SELECT’s has eight, with the final one being the FICA, a challenging assessment of competence which entails practical and complex electrical installation tasks against the clock.
Ms Harper said, “The Joint Industry Boards north and south of the border decided that minor modifications to their apprenticeships were appropriate to reflect changing technology and regulations. When we assessed what needed to be done, however, we decided that a much more comprehensive upgrade should be undertaken reflecting, for instance, the changes in the Scottish Building Standards Regulations which became law in 2003. The Joint Industry Board in the south has since adopted a similar approach.
“It has taken two years because we have also put in place new computer programmes for assessors – who now use tablets rather than pen and paper – as well as full computerisation of the process and system.”
The Scottish Joint Industry Board has three assessment centres for the FICA – in Aberdeen, Cambuslang and Edinburgh.
SELECT Member companies account for 90% of all electrical installation work carried out in Scotland, have a collective turnover of £1 billion and provide skilled employment for 15,000 people.