Unite’s ECS Scheme Sees Further Growth

Author: Adam Heppell

Date: Tuesday 18th January 2022

Throughout 2021, Unite’s Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) programme saw a record high of nearly 11,000 assessments which easily surpassed the 8,000-test average before the pandemic. The Unite Canary Wharf Learning Centre alone delivered an impressive 5,829 ECS tests.

These numbers have been achieved despite COVID 19 causing the temporary closure of many offices where the course would normally be delivered. In 2021, the union delivered the ECS course in only seven venues. Despite this, Invigilators still assessed as many as 49 candidates per day in some venues. This outcome is a ‘testament to the hard work of our ECS Administrators and Invigilators’ according to Stephen Craig, Unite National Development Officer.

In pre-Covid times, the ECS would usually be delivered at 28 different Unite offices and venues across the English region.

Unite’s work offers vital support to workers wanting to practice in the Construction industry, improves health and safety standards, and achieves recognition of peoples’ skills and qualifications. This is offered at a reduced rate for existing Unite members. The ECS is the sole industry-recognised identification and competence card scheme for electrotechnical operatives in the UK. Holding an ECS card proves the worker's qualification status, main electrical occupation, identity, health and safety awareness and skills disciplines.

The ECS continues to be an excellent membership recruitment tool for the union and, despite the numerous challenges encountered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Unite has been able to maintain the delivery of a sizable ECS programme throughout 2020-2021 Over the last five years, Unite has delivered over 35,588 ECS assessments and, in the last year alone, recruited nearly 150 new members. The ECS has proven effective at specifically recruiting younger members. Between July and September 2021 alone, 32 16-24-year-olds or apprentices were recruited from 146 candidates. Housing associations have been a rich resource of membership and organisation for the union.

All candidates are given a short presentation on topics including the benefits of Unite membership, health and safety, equality, apprenticeships, contracts of employment, terms and conditions and the role of the union in protecting and promoting workers’ rights.  ECS Invigilators ensure that Unite’s ECS activity extends to outreach work and engagement with employers, local further education (FE) colleges and training providers. This enables Invigilators to access workplaces and colleges across the public and private sector to deliver ECS tests and support apprentices through the delivery of Unite’s Employment Rights & Responsibilities (ERR) programme.

“Delivering our ECS programme at the workplace provides Unite with the opportunity to support workers and particularly apprentices to increase the number of individuals passing the ECS assessment. Unite delivering on-site is also an attractive option for employers as it reduces travel costs, down-time and service delivery complications caused by having to release large numbers of staff to sit the ECS assessment outside the workplace. The Learn with Unite website is an essential tool, assisting the facilitation of our programme as it assists in registering candidates and the promotion of ECS Assessment dates.”

Stephen Craig - Unite National Development Officer.