April 06, 2021

New Structure sets the bar high for Network Infrastructure Industry

New Structure sets the bar high for Network Infrastructure Industry

The Network Infrastructure industry has developed a new Occupational Qualification Structure leading to Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) Card recognition, which aligns with the future of the industry and addresses the need to bring together the wide-ranging skills which exist in the current workforce.

Developed by an industry wide group formed of the ECA, JIB, SELECT, CNet Training and a large group of employers, the new Occupational Qualification Structure follows the launch of the Network Cable Installer Apprenticeship Standard. It sets the benchmark for new entrants to the market at Level 3 but also crucially addresses the need to recognise professionals currently in the workforce that already benefit from hands-on experience, previous education and training and industry recognised qualifications.

Formerly known as datacomms, the Network Infrastructure Industry covers the installation of data cabling, hardware and other devices which enable computing and communication between users, services and other networked applications.

This new pathway serves two important purposes, it clarifies the differences in education, training and experience for those already in the industry, and sets out a route for those entering the network cabling infrastructure industry.

Jay Parmar, Chief Executive of the JIB says: “The introduction of the new Occupational Qualification Structure for the Network Infrastructure Industry is an exciting step forward  as we strive to upskill the industry to deliver an infrastructure for a ‘Digital Britain’ by setting a  a benchmark for new entrants and recognition of the skills and qualifications of those already working in the industry.

“A key strength of ECS and its partnership with CSCS is that it provides assurance and proof that cardholders working across sites in the UK have a high level of skills and experience and the appropriate  qualifications. We are delighted to be working alongside the Network Infrastructure Industry as they work to promote a higher degree of professionalism in the industry and, in keeping with the Construction Leadership Council’s target, ensure that all ECS cards are issued against an industry recognised qualification standard by the end of 2020.”

Following the introduction of the new Structure the following suite of ECS cards is now available which recognise a range of Network Infrastructure Industry occupations:

  • Network Infrastructure Installer Apprentice
  • Network Infrastructure Installer Trainee
  • Network Infrastructure Assistant
  • Network Infrastructure Installer (Level 3)
  • Network Infrastructure Installer Gold Card
  • Advanced Network Infrastructure Installer
  • Network Infrastructure Supervisor
  • Network Infrastructure Manager
  • Network Infrastructure Designer

From 1 January 2021 all new (initial) applications must comply with the Structure which includes the requirement for a Network Infrastructure Assessment for those applying for the Network Infrastructure Assistant card. From 1 July 2021 all card renewals will also need to meet the requirements of the new Occupational Qualification Structure.

Martin Smith, International Lead – Network Infrastructure at CNet Training says: “We’ve been working with the ECA, ECS and industry stakeholders for several years to further professionalise the Network Infrastructure Industry. The introduction of the new card structure adheres to Government guidelines regarding qualification levels and best practice and is a big step forward in ensuring we have a suitably skilled and qualified workforce, something that as a critical utility, we should have achieved some time ago.

“This follows the introduction of the Network Cable Installer Apprenticeship, meaning that for the first time we have defined educational routes for both new starters and existing workforces. We are proud to have been involved in both projects and feel they are great examples of what can be achieved with meaningful industry collaboration. We are now working on future Government linked initiatives to further professionalise the industry and support the people within it.”

Andrew Eldred, Director of Employment and Skills for the ECA said: “The network infrastructure industry plays a vital role in the delivery of the Government’s desired ‘Digital Britain’ agenda. ECA is pleased to have been part of this very effective collaboration with CNet Training and industry employers and welcomes ECS’s recognition of the new occupational structure. This represents a major leap forward towards the goal of an appropriately qualified workforce for the network infrastructure industry and will help ensure that installations will be high quality, safe and deliver improved outcomes for end users.”

Kathryn Aves, Managing Director at Bluepoint Technologies said: “We welcome the ECS scheme as a long-awaited means of recognising investment in people within the industry and setting a certified benchmark for excellence. As our industry continues to evolve at a pace, the introduction of the card structure and a formal training pathway allows us to be assured that everyone from entry level team members onwards are able to develop and evidence their level of training, qualifications and competence within the Network Infrastructure Industry. We are invested in the future of our industry, and as a group, we have worked hard to ensure that the benefits of the scheme will be wide-ranging, not just for card holders and employers but for emerging talent, and the customers who invest in our services.”

Ross Chalmers of Nextgen Communications said: “It has been an honour for me to be included in the development of this new structure and have input into the new scheme. The development and growth of the industry depends highly on the skills of the labour force involved in the network infrastructure which is a core contributor in the UK economy. With buildings and cities becoming increasingly more intelligent, the education of the workforce installing these networks will be of utmost importance. Since I started working in the industry I have felt that we have required a more stringent qualification system. This association with the new ECS structure will allow the profession to grow further with the correct education paths being supported and the added support for the existing workforce being able to certify installers to a qualified level based on work experience.”

Information about the full suite of cards, together with information on the Network Infrastructure Assessment and details on how to apply for the ECS Network Infrastructure cards from the JIB in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is available at:  www.ecscard.org.uk/Network-Infrastructure

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