Black ECS Card

The Black ECS card is one of the most advanced cards provided by the ECS. This card is reserved for those who undertake management roles within the electrotechnical industry. This article intends to provide an explanation of the qualifications required to acquire an ECS Black Card. It also touches upon some recent changes which have impacted those who have held cards since prior to July last year.As a brief introduction, below is a list of some of the key managerial positions that would require an ECS Black Card:

  • Electrical Site Manager
  • Electrical Contract Manager
  • Site Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Contract Manager.

Additionally, there are some specific black card formats which are used exclusively to the datacomms sector. These are reserved for the role of Datacomms Engineer, and Datacomms Manager (CTPM).

Qualification Routes

There are two available paths towards obtaining an ECS Black Card. If you are already an ECS Gold Card holder, and are therefore recognised in the industry as a trained electrical professional, you will automatically be able to gain access to this card. This is because you will have already demonstrated a satisfactory level of knowledge in the electrotechnical field.

A second route is to obtain a relevant Level 4 Management qualification (or, perhaps, this is something you have already achieved). This could be an undergraduate degree in preferably an associated discipline, a Joint Industry Board (JIB) recognised employer programme, or a BTEC. For reference, a BTEC is awarded by the British and Technology Education Council (hence acronym). These are specific industry-related certifications which combine classroom-based study with a practical application of skills learned. BTECs are often completed at school leaver age.

Compulsory Health & Safety Knowledge

Additionally, applicants, regardless of route, will need to have undertaken one of the following, approved health and safety courses. These are registered at H&S Qualification Level 4.

  • Construction Skills (CITB) Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
  • IOSH Safety, Health & Environment for Construction Site Managers
  • CITB Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
  • CCNSG Safety Passport- Supervising/Leading a Team Safety Course
  • IOSH Safety for Directors
  • NEBOSH Diploma in Occupational Safety
  • UK Degree-level Health and Safety Qualification

In taking a compulsory Level 4 Health & Safety standard course, candidates won’t need to take the otherwise essential ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment. This is a central component of most applications for ECS cards. Exemption is awarded due to the individual already demonstrating a high enough level of proficiency through the successful completion of one of the courses shown above.

The information contained on the card itself allows colleagues and clients to visibly see your credentials. The card’s face will display your managerial status and position. On the reverse, there will be a listed record of qualifications acquired and resultant industry skill level. The colour will also act as an easy identifier of your status on-site.

Physically applying for the card

As with any ECS card application, individuals are encouraged to register an account on the MyECS portal, which can be done by visiting the following webpage: www.ecscard.org.uk/content/ready-to-apply You will need a passport-style photograph, and some basic personal information to hand. On successful registration, industry workers will be able to access application routes for any card. They will also be able to keep track of any certification or qualifications acquired throughout their learning journey. It’s also worth informing ECS of any merits earned that are not currently visible on your landing page, for example, this could be the latest edition wiring regulations assessment.

There is the option of applying via a paper form, but this approach will result in you paying an additional administration fee of £10 (+VAT). No extra charge is levied for online applications. However, the card itself does require payment. If you’re employer is affiliated to the JIB Company scheme, then you will be eligible for a discount. However, if using your MyECS account to make your application, please ensure that your company has appropriately registered you on JIB’s Employer Portal. Additionally, if you are also a Unite the Union member, you may be entitled to a further reduction. Check your personal circumstances before applying.

Changes in required qualifications

The criteria mentioned above is still a relatively new development in the black card application process. For those who have acquired this pass prior to 2021, there’s a good chance that qualifications undertaken do not directly sync to those listed previously. Originally, the ECS simply encouraged those with older card versions to review the criteria, and consider making steps to meet the new qualification standard. However, the grace period for this softer approach elapsed in July 2021. Therefore, any card holder who was due to see their card expire after July 2021, would now have to sit the updated assessment package. Otherwise, they would not be able to successfully apply for renewal.  The criteria articulated in this article is of course relevant for all candidates currently applying.

Why were these changes introduced?

These changes, which incidentally increased the level of qualification required for obtaining a card, were implemented as part of a wider industry movement. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is the recognised body that provides leadership and guidance to the electrotechnical sector. A few years ago, they announced their intention to improve general competence and compliance standards across the industry. This resulted in more national-based qualifications being introduced within construction-related industries. Their target was to complete this process by the end of 2020.

This means that the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (the central body accountable for the regulation of certification across the construction space) demanded that partnership groups, such as ECS and JIB, updated their standards accordingly.

Summary

So, there you have it, a thorough overview of the ECS Black Card. This article has hopefully served to help you understand its status, the criteria candidates must hit in order to acquire the card, and some key information on the application process. If you require any further guidance, please visit the ECS website. Explanations on all ECS cards, and their applications processes, are featured on this site. Alternatively, please consult an industry professional.