Who is NET?
NET (National Electrotechnical Training) is a registered pan-UK industry training charity, which owns and licenses the Assessment of Occupational Competence for the electrical installation industry; namely, the Achievement Measurement 2 (AM2) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA) for Scotland.

What is the AM2?
The AM2 is not a qualification in itself. It’s an industry assessment, that has been the industry’s benchmark for occupational competence since 1985. The assessment forms a key part of a formal electrical apprenticeship, as it gives participants the opportunity to practically test their skills under observation. It covers all areas of modern electrical engineering and allows the candidate to prove to themselves and the invigilators that they are able to carry out the full scope of electrical work to the highest standards and under the time constraints of real work-based scenarios.

What does it demonstrate?
Briefly put, taking and passing the AM2 allows apprentices, adult trainees and other industry entrants to prove their competence in areas of work which they will perform in their future career. It’s a way of ensuring those who aspire to work in our industry only enter it when they have learnt enough to practice safely.

Why is it being altered?
Over the years the AM2 has come to represent the benchmark for industry standards, and is commonly regarded by the industry as the best way of measuring the competence of aspiring electricians. However, as standards become more demanding, so the AM2 must reflect this. There have been no major updates to the AM2 since 1985 so the time is right to make the changes.

While updating the actual assessment’s content, we also saw an opportunity to review other aspects of the AM2. We have therefore re-examined the marking and administrative aspects as well, and given careful consideration to the support available to the candidates before and during the assessment.

What are the major changes?
The major changes update the assessment’s content to reflect current working practices, including the use of modern connection and wiring systems. The revised AM2 is competence, rather than systems based and encompasses methods of installation and termination, safe isolation and risk assessment, inspection, testing and fault finding.

We have also updated our marking system, reflecting the need to make the assessment more efficient and provide meaningful feedback. However, to reflect the new content, we have introduced a recommended pre-requisite checklist. This will allow candidates to check their competence against the individual elements of the assessment. When they feel entirely comfortable with each component of the assessment as outlined in the checklist, they are then ready to sit the AM2. This, we believe, will make the assessment more candidate-led and avoid the problem of candidates being entered for the AM2 before they are completely ready.

In administrative terms, we are looking to improve the AM2 result turnaround and notification for candidates, employers and test centres. We are aiming to reduce the time it takes for assessments to be marked and candidates advised of their results. Our AM2 centre network will receive the appropriate support and training as they switch over to the new assessment and well as comprehensively updated guidance and resources as the changes come in.

How were the changes decided upon?
We embarked on a review of the AM2 in consultation with industry employers, our assessment centres and past candidates. The outcome of this project was the clear recommendation that the assessment be brought up to date, while retaining its robustness and the current principle of the AM2. This was followed up with a further survey. Thanks to the help of all those who contributed to the review and survey, we obtained specific feedback on the elements of the assessment to be modified, and in what ways.

What was the feedback from those people who you surveyed?
The general consensus was that the assessment was very effective and worthwhile but could be amended in parts. The view was that any changes should reflect the demands placed on today’s electricians. The feedback was tremendously helpful when revising the AM2 assessment.

Will the changes affect pass rates?
We hope that by introducing the pre-requisite check list, candidates will only be entered in the assessment when they are fully ready. We are introducing a new support pack for centres and employers, which will ensure that all those involved are as well informed as possible when it comes to sitting the AM2.

How long did you spend making these changes?
We started the consultation process in 2007. Since then, we have been evaluating and interrogating the feedback and attempt to determine which suggestions were most helpful and practical in line with our objectives; to maintain the assessment’s standing within the industry as the definitive proof of proficiency at a time when standards are becoming ever more demanding.

We announced the initial findings of the consultation to our centre technical examiners at the NET Examiners Conference in October 2008, and this provided the insight and feedback we needed to begin developing the new AM2. We then finalised the structure and format following our 2009 Conference in October last year. We have spent the time since then consolidating the changes, informing partners and ensuring that our examining, administrative and various support teams are fully aware of the modifications before we introduce the new content in April 2010.

Do all electricians need to take the new AM2?
Those electricians who already possess an AM2 certificate will not be required to re-qualify against the new assessment. However, due to the change in content, those who need to re-sit the current assessment must do so before April 2010 before the new assessment is introduced. We would urge all those who need to book their re-sits to do so as soon as possible to ensure that they are assessed under the present system. NET’s mobile assessment centre will be deployed on a regional basis to support AM2 centres in delivering an effective service to those requiring re-sit facilities. Individuals who need to re-sit the current AM2 are advised to book re-sits directly with their local AM2 centre before April. Contact information can be found on the NET website

When do they take effect?
The changes take effect from April 12th of this year.

We believe that by updating the assessment in line with modern working practices we are taking a significant step to ensure that the AM2 remains the benchmark for occupational competence for years to come.