NAPIT’s Group Chief Executive, Mike Andrews, looks back at another year of vast change across industry, and reflects on some major successes.
As NAPIT’s silver anniversary celebrations come to a close, the achievements of the past 12 months have been a fitting tribute to the business and its ambitions. Twenty-five years since a small group of electricians set up the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers, the aims of our founders to improve standards within the electrical industry have taken significant steps forward in 2018. But this has been just the latest chapter in the organisation’s success story.
The last 15 years have seen the company’s growth accelerate dramatically. With the introduction of Approved Document P of the Building Regulations, NAPIT gained Government authorisation to operate an Electrical Competent Person Scheme. NAPIT has since expanded into the plumbing and heating sectors, as well as operating certification schemes across the renewable and energy efficiency industries. This growth has seen the organisation pass the 10,000 member mark in recent years.
Throughout this period of growth, we have retained our ethos as a Trade Association, with the interests and concerns of our members at the heart of every decision we make. We are proud that a survey of our members conducted by Investor in Customers (IIC) has resulted in us achieving their Gold Award for the second year in a row. IIC say that a Gold Award is a sign of ‘world-class best practice’, and I have every confidence that our customer service will continue to lead the way as we enter our next 25 years.
Over the past 12 months, we have continued to push for higher standards and have ensured our members have joined us on the journey to greater competence. Our industry-first Codebreakers publication, now updated for the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations, was a breakthrough in making the completion of Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) more consistent. We were delighted that Codebreakers was named a 2018 Top Product by Professional Electrician and was a finalist in the Electrical Industry Awards’ Trade Tool of the Year category.
We have also helped our members to navigate their way through the raft of changes introduced by the 18th Edition, with in-depth technical information available at our Roadshows across the country and training offered at dozens of pop-up centres nationwide. The addition of the Sevenoaks gas training centre to our portfolio has allowed us to help even more installers to reach their potential, bringing our high-quality approach to the gas industry.
This year’s announcement that inspections of electrical installations in private rented properties will become mandatory was a landmark step towards improving safety in a sector which is often neglected. Our members have long been of the view that electrical safety standards in the private rented sector are lower than in any other form of tenure, and this is backed up by Government statistics. This legislation will help to close the net on landlords who are letting dangerous properties, without placing too heavy a burden on those landlords whose properties are safe. We are also glad that the Government have seen the value of making progress with implementing Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations in the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. Electrical safety is due to be considered in more detail next year, and we eagerly await more information on how we can engage with this.
In the microgeneration sector, NAPIT have been working hard this year to ensure any initiatives remain sustainable without leading to a drop in standards. On the recommendation of 2015’s Each Home Counts review, a single Government-endorsed quality mark for home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures has been developed, with TrustMark set to deliver this in 2019. We have liaised closely with TrustMark, advocating improvements to the scheme which would benefit installers and the industry as a whole. We have also responded to a number of Government consultations on the future of the microgeneration industry. Along with hundreds of other stakeholders, we argued against closing the Feed-in Tariff’s export tariff, which currently rewards customers for any excess energy they produce which is exported to the grid. Despite this, the closure of the scheme has been confirmed for March 2019. This will remove the incentive for consumers to use installers registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and could therefore lead to a drop in installation standards. The Government are set to outline a “market-based solution” next year, and we will continue to advocate that any solutions must ensure the quality of installations is maintained.
In many ways, the electrical industry is unrecognisable from when NAPIT was first established, but we have retained our key values of transparency and integrity. The pace of change over the next 25 years is sure to be equally fast, so it is vitally important that NAPIT is prepared to fight and is ready to take on the challenges that await over the coming years, working with our members and industry stakeholders to push for genuine improvements and to raise standards throughout the industry.