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In light of today’s worsening unemployment figures, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) urges UK plc to reconsider its approach to skills training, and calls for the private and public sectors, employer associations and the Government to work together to establish new, more accessible routes into employment.

Today’s figures* show that 1.09 million women are now out of a job, a seven per cent increase on the same period last year. With female employment at its highest level since 1988, and steadily rising, the ECA’s recently launched employment initiative, ‘Wired for Success’, aims to tackle this issue for under-represented groups, by providing a blueprint that can be successfully replicated by skills-based industries around the country.

The London pilot sees 12 unemployed women training in the electrical industry, where only 0.14 per cent of operatives are female. A specially developed course provides the flexibility needed to accommodate the women who want to work but who have family commitments which prevent them from undertaking traditional training or employment.

ECA Skills Ambassador and former President Diane Johnson says: “Wired for Success is giving these women, all of whom are living in social housing, the opportunity to get off benefits and into a job in a sector with a looming skills crisis. We hope this pilot – in which we have collaborated with social housing association, L&Q – will just be the beginning. The model could be easily picked up by progressive organisations working together in any skilled sector across the country, with the aim of reversing unemployment and giving under-represented groups the chance to contribute to the economy.”

John Hayes, Minister for Skills says: “By opening access to vocational training, Wired for Success will help get women who need support to get work, and get on at work, the opportunity to build lasting and productive careers. This initiative should inspire other industries to look at how vocational training can work for them, giving them the skilled staff they need to prosper and grow.

Johnson says: “This programme is a great example of like-minded organisations working together to build better lives for people. We are keen to engage with Government to see how this template can be expanded and would like to discuss how funding could be focused on initiatives like this rather than on Further Education courses that get people a certificate, but do not necessarily provide the hands-on experience required by employers.”

For more information on Wired For Success, please visit the website: www.eca.co.uk/wired, follow the campaign on Twitter: @wiredforsuccess, or watch the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJm8l1M4QlY

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors
*ONS Labour Force Survey November 2011 (July to September 2011)

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ECA’s Wired for Success demonstrates the power of working in partnership with like-minded organisations to encourage diversity in a non-traditional industry. Conceived and spearheaded by the ECA’s Skills Ambassador and outgoing President, Diane Johnson, it aims to break down the barriers which prevent women from entering the electrical industry, while helping to provide a solution to the skills crisis within the electrical sector. This pilot programme offers a blueprint for success which we hope will be replicated by housing associations, business and organisations, across the UK.

The Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) is the UK’s largest trade association representing electrical engineering and contracting businesses. Our members form a collective of over 3,000 firms across the UK, from local electricians with one or two operatives, to the large national commercial and industrial companies who employ thousands. They carry out the full range of electrical installation and maintenance work – from wiring properties to responsibility for the electrical systems in buildings like Heathrow Terminal 5, to the installation of the state of the art, energy-saving environmental control technology in the London Swiss Re Building (‘the Gherkin’). Generating an aggregate turnover of over £5 billion and giving employment to more than 30,000 operatives and 8,000 apprentices, ECA membership provides a snapshot of how significant the electrical sector is to the British construction industry and to our economy. www.eca.co.uk

L&Q is one of the UK’s leading housing associations building and refurbishing high quality, affordable homes. L&Q is involved in large scale community regeneration projects across London and is committed to investing in local neighbourhoods and communities and has dedicated Neighbourhood Investment teams. L&Q works in partnership with local authorities and local and national voluntary and community agencies to develop opportunities for residents. www.lqgroup.org.uk

Electrical Assessment Services UK Ltd (EAS UK) was launched in 2004 and EAS UK works closely with industry institutions, awarding bodies, employers, colleges and training providers across the country to ensure that trainee electricians get the best learning experience to achieve an industry expected standard and competency. Today EAS Group supports the full spectrum of the Building Services Engineering sector including Educational services, Mechanical & Electrical training and Environmental Technology training. www.easukltd.com

Axis Europe specialises in the improvement and maintenance of Housing, Retail and Commercial properties. Axis Europe operates out of eight offices across London, the South East and Midlands. The company believes that in any working relationship what is good for one, should be good for the other, so that everybody wins. This has kept the firm focused on its clients and their success. Today Axis Europe employ 427 people, all of whom share its values. www.axiseurope.com

Smith and Byford was established in 1966, and is still a family run business today. The company specialises in providing Gas and Electrical Installations and Maintenance services to the private, social and public sectors. Smith and Byford offers a pro-active service which is backed by a helpful and professional workforce that is committed to providing a high standard of service with a personalised touch. www.smithandbyford.com

Mulalley is a family owned construction and refurbishment contractor operating successfully throughout South-East England for nearly 40 years. Mulalley’s primary business is construction and construction related activities including: New Housing and Development, New Social and Education projects, Major Refurbishment, Estate and Area Regeneration, Decent Homes/Planned Maintenance and Reactive Maintenance. The majority of these projects are delivered under Partnering arrangements with our Partner Clients who include RSL's, Councils and ALMOs. www.mulalley.co.uk


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