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JOHN HAYES, MINISTER FOR further education, skills and lifelong learning, has announced the latest business-backed initiative to raise the status of apprenticeships. The introduction of the Apprentice Society and Apprentice Card are supported by the National Union of Students (NUS) and a variety of key industry players. Ann Watson, managing director of specialist awarding organisation, EAL (EMTA Awards Limited), has welcomed the latest commitment to raise the profile of apprenticeships and hopes this will achieve greater parity between skills education and the non-vocational route. Watson commented: ‘I am absolutely delighted to see businesses – who appreciate the real value of an apprentice – taking the lead to achieve greater respect for the vocational route. Giving apprentices access to the same entitlements as the current NUS scheme affords academic students is a crucial first step to tackling the inequalities between the two routes. This will hopefully be a step in the right direction to showing our young people that the vocational and academic route is on the same page, and both are of equal value.’

Guidance for electrical safety in communal areas

THE ELECTRICAL SAFETY COUNCIL (ESC) HAS TEAMED up with the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) and a number of other organisations to produce a new guide promoting electrical safety in the communal areas of residential properties in England and Wales. The ESC was approached by ARMA after concerns were raised in the wake of several high profile electrical incidents including the fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell, London, in July 2009 that resulted in the death of six people. An investigation into the cause of the fire drew attention to the level of fire protection provided for the communal areas, in particular to the inadequate maintenance of fire doors, emergency lighting and

ventilation grilles, and to the fact that there was no emergency escape plan.

‘In partnership with ARMA we undertook a survey of their members. It revealed that 84 per cent of respondents felt that guidance on inspection and testing in communal areas would be beneficial to electrical safety in areas accessible to residents, staff and others visiting the property,’ said Phil Buckle, director general of the ESC.

Electrical Safety in Communal Areas of Residential

Properties is available to download free from the ESC website at as well as in hard copy. Email requests to

ENA initiative to enhance smart grid cyber security infrastructure together.

THE ENERGY NETWORKS ASSOCIATION (ENA) has published an independent report by KEMA, into Smart Grid Cyber Security. The report, commissioned by ENA for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) considered how government and networks should develop a strategy to secure the future UK electricity

The report found that although plans

for distribution network operators and government are rigorous, a more coherent and joined-up approach is needed to meet concerns of the future.

ENA chief executive David Smith said: ‘In the future, our energy networks will be

smarter and more complex, to ensure we provide for the diverse nature of our energy generation and consumption. However, this presents additional vulnerability. Through a co-ordinated approach to cyber security we can ensure the lower carbon future of our energy networks, with their greater communication, is secure and robust.’

ESC 2011 product safety conference

THE ELECTRICAL SAFETY COUNCIL (ESC) has just released initial details of its second Product Safety conference, which will be held at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster, London, on 26 October 2011. With the timely theme of ‘Market surveillance – overcoming cut-backs through a combined approach’, the conference provides an ideal opportunity for product safety professionals and interested

stakeholders to network and hear up-to-the-minute news and views from industry leaders. ‘Recent developments,

particularly public spending cuts and the impact of the EU’s New Legislative Framework – which, amongst other things, requires member states to implement stronger accreditation and market surveillance systems – have all had an impact on the product safety community,’ explained Martyn

Allen, ESC’s head of technical development. ‘Now, more than ever, we need to collaborate and combine expertise and resources to ensure only safe electrical products can gain entry to the UK. Our Product Safety conference promises to provide definitive views on this subject, as well as ideas for working creatively on a tight budget.’ n For full details of the conference programme and to book a place, visit

September 2011 ECA Today 7

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