Interview: Matt Dodd, CEDIA


It is virtually impossible to get access to a large construction site without approved proof of competency, identification and qualificat...

Matt Dodd largeIt is virtually impossible to get access to a large construction site without approved proof of competency, identification and qualification levels. The ECS card solves this problem. ECS stands for Electrotechnical Certification Scheme - it is the sole ID and competence card scheme for Electrotechnical operatives in the UK, and it is recognised and endorsed by the industry. Holding an ECS card means that you can prove your identity, your qualified status and your occupation when working on-site. It is affiliated to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). So when people say that you need a CSCS card - the ECS card is the one which is relevant to the Electrotechnical Industry. CEDIA installers often work on smaller construction sites where site safety regulation tends to be more relaxed, meaning they can often carry out their work without any checks being made. This will be a major problem if somebody is injured or the Health and Safety Executive carries out a spot check on the site. It is the responsibility of the employer to protect the employee and provide a safe system of work. In short, without the correct proof of competency, the site and the business could be closed down. In this exclusive interview with HiddenWires, CEDIA Director of Education, Matt Dodd, explains why CEDIA Region 1 has gained ECS recognition for home technology integrators in the UK. CEDIA ECS card Q: Why was this important to CEDIA? A: Being on a building site is part of what we do, and it would be very difficult to avoid it when installing structured cabling and technical equipment into people's homes. Our members are highly skilled in many disciplines, however due to our industry still being seen as one of the newest in the building trade, the way in which we are regulated is weak. As the residential custom install trade body, we have a duty to inform our members of site safety regulations, correct competency and legal requirements as well as provide training to skill them to correctly perform their duties. Over the past 12 months CEDIA has developed a relationship with the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA) and the Joint Industry Board (JIB) which are the bodies responsible for setting standards and regulating relations between employer and employees to improve the industry, its status and productivity. This relationship has enabled us to associate our existing internal EST2 technical qualification with the nationally-recognised ECS card that is required to work on a construction site. It's a very exciting time for us. This is an extremely important step forward to achieving stronger regulation within the custom install industry. Q: What does ECS recognition mean for custom installers? A: Having the ECS recognise CEDIA and the EST2 qualification means that anyone coming through the EST2 training programme is working towards gaining a qualification which will legally allow them to carry out their duties on a construction site. My initial research was to find an already-approved training programme which would give our learners access to an existing ECS card, and from the outset I discovered that although this would 'fix' the issue of raising awareness in our industry, it wouldn't actually solve the problem of improving regulation. Gaining approval of the EST2 training programme and certification means that we are in much better control of how the Related Discipline Card is distributed, and because we are the only trade body that can approve the card, it will instantly raise awareness of who we are and what we do. Q: What are the qualification requirements? A: To gain access to any ECS card (even a visitor card), the candidate must complete the ECS Health and Safety assessment. Approved assessment centres are widely available across the UK. CEDIA HQ in St Neots is now an approved HandS assessment centre and the education team are approved invigilators. Once this has been passed, the candidate must pass the CEDIA EST2 certification. All the information about this programme is available at . Q: How easy is it for a customer to check someone's ECS credentials? A: Each qualified individual is given an ECS photo ID with the unique ID number and the date of expiry printed. The formal qualification needed to get the card is printed on the reverse. The customer can then check with either CEDIA or the ECA to ensure the validity of the card. Q: What is CEDIA doing to promote uptake of the ECS card? A: To support the one-day Health and Safety course and ECS assessment we have developed a free industry resource: Health and Safety Guidelines - Your Corporate Responsibility. This new paper will give business owners key reasons why their employees need to prove a level of competence on a building site to the Health and Safety Executive. Q: Where is CEDIA planning to go from here? A: Our EST2 certification has always proven very popular with new people coming into the industry, and this will further encourage people to sit through the programme before attempting to take any 'deeper dive' courses in specific skills such as networking, business process, and design. Our aim is to make member companies and those who have been in the industry for some time aware of the importance of obtaining this, or any other ECS/CSCS cards. A longer-term objective for us is to link our existing courseware for EST2 to the nationally-recognised Qualifications and Credit Framework. This will in turn mean that any of the EST2 courseware taken anywhere in the world will award points to the individual which can count towards a vocational qualification. Q: What should interested parties do? A: In the first instance, visit