Conventional industry thinking and practices rely on the attainment of accredited qualifications to evidence occupational competency. The NVQ Level 3 and its successor, the Level 3 Diploma, along with other industry approved legacy qualifications are used to demonstrate competency as a UK electrical installation electrician. Some electrical workers enhance their qualifications, e.g. Level 3 Inspection and Testing, and then choose to be subject to an approved third party on-site technical inspection. Industry Clients are interested in identifying these electrical workers via the SparkSafe system.
SparkSafe has developed a new licence to help industry Clients identify electrical workers who have been independently assessed for technical competency by a UKAS Accredited third party organisation. The Assessed Qualified Electrician (AQE) licence is available to those who meet the agreed national industry standards to become a Qualified Electrician (QE) and have been subject to an additional on- site technical assessment.
It is often argued that being qualified doesn’t necessarily mean being competent. We know that obtaining a qualification is a short- term journey leading to a specific outcome, whereas attaining competency is usually a longer journey where practices and skills are developed along the way. Competencies can be improved, weakened or lost depending on the opportunities that arise. Attitude, choices and circumstances are some of the other factors that influence the development of competency.
Foundational skills, knowledge and competencies are considered to have been met by apprentices who complete industry-approved qualifications. However, it is the onward journey, post qualification, that provides the opportunity to gain skills and experiences which go towards the accrual of competencies.
The SparkSafe QE licence helps Clients recognise those who have completed an approved industry apprenticeship or who possess industry-approved legacy qualifications. Since 2016, the current accredited qualification covering the BS:7671 IET Wiring Requirements also formed part of the QE licence criterion. Through cooperation with NAPIT, one of the UK’s leading UKAS accredited certification bodies who provides on-site technical assessments, SparkSafe has developed a licence which addresses the qualification versus competency dichotomy, i.e. “being qualified doesn’t necessarily mean being competent.” Progression towards the new AQE licence is not an essential requirement.
Possession of the current QE licence is sufficient and appropriate for most fully qualified electrical workers. A free upgrade from a QE to an AQE licence is currently available, where evidence of an on-site technical assessment can be demonstrated.