Plans to ‘deskill’ electricians are scrapped

Plans to introduce deskilling training standards to electrical contractors have been scrapped, following widespread protests by Unite electricians across the UK.1

Contractor deskilling concerns

Unite’s concerns about deskilling were raised earlier this year after it emerged two training standards were developed by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) for Hinkley Point C (HPC) would undermine the role of the electrician.

Victory for electricians

Following 15 weeks of stage protests2, the Balfour Beatty/NG Bailey joint venture for HPC confirmed that: “The disputed electrical training standards developed by the ECITB for HPC to create the electrical support operative have been permanently withdrawn by EDF Energy after Unite raised concerns.”

They went on to state that these standards; “do not form part of our current or future development plans.”1

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said “The undermining of the role of electrician has been attempted for more than 30 years, most recently in 2011/12 when eight of the major mechanical and electrical (M&E) construction companies promoted the use of non-electrical personnel to carry out skilled electrical tasks under the so called BESNA agreement.”3

BESNA was the Building Engineering Services National Agreement, drawn up by the Heating & Ventilation Contractors Association.

“Any deskilling of electricians would result in a race to the bottom and would be highly damaging to industrial relations across the sector.”3

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1 PBCtoday.co.uk ‘Contractors scrap plans to ‘deskill’ electricians’, June 2021
2 socialistworker.co.uk ‘protests win on construction deskilling’, June 2021
3 theconstructionindex.co.uk ‘deskilling controversy over electricians’ training’, March 2021

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