Electric vehicle being charged

Safety concerns as unqualified electricians found to be installing EV charge points

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People lacking the right qualifications are installing electric vehicle charge points, raising more concerns around charge point safety, according to a report commissioned by the electrotechnical industry.

The report, from the consultancy Pye Tait on behalf of the Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP), said there was a concern that that “not all installers are sufficiently competent or qualified to undertake the job”.

It states that many of those attending upskilling courses on how to safely install electric vehicle charge points (EVCPs) are not fully qualified electricians, instead switching from other lower-skilled sub-sectors such as smart meter installations.

These courses are designed only for fully qualified electricians as a bolt-on qualification, according to the report, and “this raises immediate concern around the safety and quality of EV charge points installed by these individuals, as well as broader concern about the potential “de-skilling” of the sector.

The report appears to reinforce findings from a survey carried out by City & Guilds in July which found that nearly all of the working electricians it surveyed believed there are significant risks associated with EV charging work, yet only 28 per cent had received specific training.

The research found that a lack of appropriate training and skills could be leading to thousands of unsafe installations of EV chargers.

At the time, David Phillips, managing director at City & Guilds, said: “We need industry to recognise this safety issue and ensure these EV charging points are installed in a way that is standardised and safe, to avoid a potential disaster in the near future.”

This came after E&T revealed in March that the Department for Transport was working with industry to drive-up standards after a leaked audit report it commissioned found that almost a fifth of household EVCPs inspected across the UK could be dangerous.

In response to the Pye Tait findings, the trade body for the electrotechnical industry, the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), said it had worked with awarding bodies to strengthen entry requirements so that all those enrolling on these courses are already fully qualified electricians. 

It said that City & Guilds ensures that learners taking its new EVCP installer qualifications, launched earlier this year, are fully qualified electricians as a prerequisite and that another training body, EAL, is similarly strengthening its entry requirements.

The ECA said the report showed that projected demand for EVCPs can be readily accommodated by the UK’s workforce of fully qualified electricians and that the findings “further strengthen the case against use of non-qualified and under-qualified personnel to undertake this safety-critical work”.

The UK government has set a target of installing 300,000 public charge points by 2030. However, last month an E&T analysis found that charging infrastructure is not being rolled out as quickly as new plug-in vehicles are joining the UK’s roads. This led to calls from the independent government advisors, the Climate Change Committee, to call for a ramping up in the pace of deployment.

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