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September 14, 2023


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Two new Experienced Worker Assessment routes approved for fire and security industry

Two new routes to Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) gold cards for the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) sector have been approved.

IFSEC Insider key takeaways:

  • Two new routes are now available for experienced workers in the fire, emergency and security systems sector to apply for ECS gold cards
  • ECS gold cards are for operatives whose duties involve carrying out unsupervised installation and maintenance of FESS systems
  • Through JIB, the industry has been developing the FESS pathway to demonstrate competency and raise standards for the fire and security sector

EAL Diploma or BPEC in-centre assessment

ECSGoldCard-FESS-23The EAL Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Providing Electronic Fire and Security Systems, which is part of the FESS apprenticeship for Northern Ireland and Wales, is one route being used for experienced workers who have been in the industry for several years but do not have a completed apprenticeship of relevant qualifications.

The other route now available is from BPEC, an awarding organisation with a history of operating across the building engineering services sector. It is also an end-point awarding organisation for the FESS apprenticeship in England.

This second route focuses on the principles of in-centre assessment which maps the equivalent underpinning knowledge, vocational aspects and assessment of competence expected as if someone was completing an apprenticeship.

‘Worker assessment routes are not training courses’

Crucially, these experienced worker assessment routes are not training courses, but assessments for those already working in the industry, and therefore do not require people to go back to college.

They are based on the principles of work-based assessment and are said to provide a more cost and time effective route to qualified status.

On completion, individuals will achieve FESS Technician status and entitlement to apply for a gold card under the ECS.

Through the Joint Industry Board (JIB), an ECS FESS Industry Working Group was set up several years ago to give voice to all different stakeholders in the sector to reach consensus on the competence expectations for individuals.

Stakeholders involved included the apprenticeship trailblazer group, awarding organisations, training providers, trade associations and certification bodies.

Through the dedicated work of this group and facilitated by Andy Reakes, JIB & ECS Director of Growth and Development, the industry has come together to develop two important routes to qualified status for those working in the fire and security sector on a UK wide basis.

Find out more about the ECS FESS Industry working group and JIB in the IFSEC Insider podcast episode below…

‘Fire and security industry shown a commitment to enhancing standard’

Kevin Sparrow, Industry Portfolio Manager – BSE at EAL, said: “EAL are delighted to support the fire and security sector with a range of qualifications for apprentices, experienced workers, and for the existing workforce undertaking CPD.


Andy Reakes, JIB & ECS Director of Growth and Development

“Working with Dr Tom Brookes, Chair of the FSA, and endorsed by our group Chair, Dame Judith Hackitt, we have developed an award-winning qualification for the fire sector covering BS 5839-1 and now this route for experienced workers in the industry as well.”

Matt Skelding, Head of Operations and Development of BPEC, added: “BPEC has a 30-year history of raising and assessing the skills of thousands of people across the building services engineering sector, and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved.

“The roll out of the end-point assessment for Fire, Emergency and Security Systems was another milestone, and now we are pleased to announce the development of an Experienced Worker Assessment route for people in this sector to achieve the same standard as those FESS Systems apprentices.”

Andy Reakes, JIB & ECS Director of Growth and Development, concluded: “The FESS industry has shown a commitment to professionalise and enhance standards in the sector. The JIB is proud to work alongside the sector to improve competency, raise standards and help establish a recognised pathway for people entering the industry and filling the skills gap.

“My thanks go to all those involved in the ECS FESS Industry Group who have helped to deliver a rigorous assessment route for those people playing such a crucial role in keeping our built environment safe.”

All ECS card occupations have their own qualification requirements. Further information on all ECS card types can be found here.

Listen to the IFSEC Insider podcast!

Each month, the IFSEC Insider (formerly IFSEC Global) Security in Focus podcast brings you conversations with leading figures in the physical security industry. Covering everything from risk management principles and building a security culture, to the key trends ahead in tech and initiatives on diversity and inclusivity, the podcast keeps security professionals up to date with the latest hot topics in the sector.

Available online, and on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, tune in for an easy way to remain up to date on the issues affecting your role.


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