Apprentices report on experiences Down Under

A report comparing the UK and Australian electrical contracting industries has been published by JIB Apprentice Exchange winners George Stickings and Josh Horton.

The two young men, who spent six weeks working in and around Brisbane, provided a detailed analysis on areas such as working practices, skills and competence, the role of apprentices and the industrial relations system. The main recommendations presented in their report were:

1)    The belief that a licensing system would help to raise skills and competency and add value to the job title of ‘electrician’. In Australia all electrical work must be carried out by a Licensed Electrician; there is a penalty fine of up to 40,000 dollars if this rule is broken.

2)    Taking best practice from the Australian apprentice training system, which saw electricians joining apprentices in the classroom to help with their learning, and widening the scope of the apprenticeship to include new and emerging technologies.

Introducing low voltage rescue and first aid training, so that electricians can help to improve H&S knowledge and standards on site, was also highlighted in the report. This CPD is mandatory on an annual basis for Licensed Electricians in Australia to ensure they are competent in dealing with or preventing injuries or accidents.

Whilst not a legal requirement in the UK, the ECS Registered Electrician status has been introduced by the JIB to help raise standards and recognise those working to the current British Standard for electrical installation.

The JIB Apprentice Exchange programme is a partnership between the JIB, ECA, Unite the Union and JTL and is funded by the JIB Skills Development Fund. Additional support from the Electrical Industries Charity in 2017 meant that, for the first time, two apprentices could be funded and benefit from the exchange.

George, employed by T Clarke plc, is now undertaking a degree to become a Quantity Surveyor and Josh is in the final year of his apprenticeship at RB Emerson Group and will become an Electrician on completion.

“The JIB Skills Development Fund is extremely grateful to the Electrical Industries Charity for its support with the exchange programme,” said Mick Tuff, Chairman of the Skills Development Fund. “They have provided an incredible opportunity for an additional apprentice to learn and provide a second perspective on how contractors operate abroad.”

“Both George and Josh fully took this opportunity to develop and learn. The programme was a worthy recognition of their commitment and attitude while completing their apprenticeships. We hope this report will allow for a more open exchange of ideas that could benefit industry practice in the UK as well as with our global partners, in areas such as health and safety, training and industrial relations.”

Download the full report