Smart metering skills concerns

Stakeholders in the smart meter roll out need confidence that installers are trained to commonly recognised standards.A new accreditation process will answer this need, says Nicki Hussain.

Smart metering skills concerns

By 2020, the Government requires 54 million smart meters to have been installed and 29 million homes visited.

These are serious figures. Current estimates predict we’ll need approximately 11,000 installers at peak, and we have around 4,500 available – leaving a 6,500 shortfall. What’s more, we’re reaching our limit of existing staff to upskill and need to focus on new entrants. In addition to sector attractiveness issues, it’s vital we don’t lose sight of competency requirements – there is no compromise here, even with targets to hit.

“Suppliers, meter operators and network operators need complete confidence in the competence of the smart meter installers working on their network and in customer’s homes.” 

The National Skills Academy for Power (NSAP) has introduced an accreditation process to ensure standards across the industry. This process is a nationally endorsed procedure for all NSAP-approved smart metering training providers and referenced in the Government’s Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP). We aim to uphold a consistent standard of installation safety, quality of work and customer service for up-skilled existing installers and all new sector entrants.

Suppliers, meter operators and network operators need complete confidence in the competence of the smart meter installers working on their network and in customer’s homes. With so many homes needing new meters, suppliers cannot afford to hire anyone who doesn’t thoroughly demonstrate competence. All installers who go through an NSAP-approved provider are registered with EUSR – the skills register for our industry. The EUSR card held by an approved installer is industry-recognised proof that they’ve got the knowledge and skills to carry out the job to the required standard – providing satisfaction for customers and network operators alike.

Suppliers and meter operators know there are likely to be challenges with them all fishing to attract this highly valued resource commodity from the same pool. With these ambitious targets, and the shortfall, the industry is likely to become a workers’ market. Within this context, how do we ensure suppliers truly know who is competent? How do we accurately track the number of competent installers available in the talent pool?

NSAP has introduced an industry-wide referencing scheme, providing a robust solution to the challenge presented by a transient workforce and the need to maintain the highest safety standards. The scheme forms part of the normal recruitment process, providing participating companies with an extra layer of checks to give greater confidence in their workforce’s competence.

We have a challenge ahead of us, but we know we can meet it together. Only through cross-sector collaboration can we ensure safety of our workers and customer satisfaction remains absolutely paramount.


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