After taking a proactive approach to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Joint Industry Board (JIB) is aiming to build on its longer-term strategic priorities of raising employment standards, achieving significant business growth and creating a safer built environment.
To help its members during lockdown the JIB announced the introduction of a Temporary Furlough Benefits Credit, which gave employers the option to purchase a reduced level of cover for operatives on furlough. It also announced a temporary suspension of National Working Rule 16 to allow furloughed employees (including apprentices) to use their electrical skills to good effect, including performing socially valuable voluntary work.
The JIB is an impartial organisation that sets the standards for employment, welfare, grading and apprentice training in the electrical contracting industry. Owned jointly by employers and employees – via ECA and Unite the Union – the JIB celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.
As the UK went into lockdown in March, the JIB worked collaboratively and took clear and decisive action by implementing flexible and supportive measures to ensure jobs and businesses are fully protected. The JIB was one of the first organisations to boldly take clear and decisive action to support the industry and its workforce by introducing flexibility to allow access and use the Government’s job retention scheme, option to purchase reduced benefits for furloughed staff and allowing staff to undertake socially valuable voluntary work. Now, JIB Chief Executive Jay Parmar says this year has been an important time in which the industry can take stock and reflect on how it runs itself.
Jay Parmar explained: “The speed and spread of the virus took us all by surprise, not only threatening lives, but livelihoods – impacting on how we work, live and learning the new norms. For me, it brought to light a lot of things about our industry that we DO get right but, like with everything, it also exposed areas that we could be managing a lot better.”
Parmar continued: “Prior to lockdown, we were busy developing a comprehensive Business Plan for the JIB, which aimed to build on our longer-term strategic priorities. During its development I had no idea just how important it was going to be in helping us prioritise our support and engagement as the country was plunged into lockdown and the activities and plans for the construction sector being drastically curtailed.”
Since its formation in 1968, the organisation has grown to set employment standards even more widely via Apprenticeship Training Schemes, Craft Training Schemes and the Mature Candidate Assessment. The charitable JIB Skills Development Fund has provided over £100,000 in course grants and NVQ Level 3 vouchers since 2006 and has also established the overseas Apprentice Exchange Programme with partners in New York and Australia.
The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS), owned jointly by the JIB and Scottish JIB, has become the foremost occupational card scheme which recognises an individual’s skills and qualifications in the industry.
In setting the standards for training, competence and terms and conditions of employment, the JIB has helped its members to maintain stability in the workplace and offer employment conditions that attract, train and motivate the best operatives.
Jay Parmar concluded: “We are all learning how to adapt to new ways of living and working and I remain confident that through resilience and innovation our sector will bounce back stronger and thrive once again. JIB will continue to ensure it remains at the forefront of recovery through increased engagement and support in these turbulent times.”