Initiatives and Case Studies
Fastrack into Information Technology (FIT) Consumer Electronics project 2023
The project, funded by the Circular Economy Innovation Grant and led by FIT (Fastrack into Information Technology), aims to address the shortage of Consumer Electronics Service and Repair Technicians in Ireland. FIT and WEEE Ireland are collaborating on this initiative with a goal to encourage more repair and reuse activities within the Consumer Electronics sector by introducing the Circular Economy Skillset Initiatives (CESI). The course developed by FIT will be the first of its kind in Ireland, focusing on preventive maintenance, repair, and reuse in Consumer Electronics, thereby supporting a more circular and sustainable economy. The project's pilot phase will run from August 2023 to April 2024.
Partner Initiative / WEEE Ireland & Partners / Repair
The project pilot is being delivered over 4 phases
Phase 1 – Formation of Steering Committee (champions/drivers of the program) and Sub Steering Committee (Independent operators)
Phase 2 – Research & skills need analysis to establish what expertise is lacking and what expertise in Consumer Electronics Repair & Reuse is required in the mid to longer term & establish the future needs from an industry perspective.
Phase 3 – Formation of a course curriculum on ‘Consumer Electronics repair’ based on the prerequisites established in the SNA.
Phase 4 – The execution of a pilot Consumer Electronics Service Technician training course, official QQI validation in conjunction with a specific ETB
- The formation of a Steering Committee and Sub Technical Committee.
- The ongoing research and advise of the Steering Committee assisted in the preparation of a Skills Needs Analysis (SNA) survey to determine the skillset and competences that would be required by a Consumer Electronics Service Technician.
- The findings from the SNA Skillset survey and advise of the Technical Committee will be used to inform and shape the design and delivery of an appropriate training program and to build a professional profile for those working within the sector as a Consumer Electronics Service & Repair Technician.
The key findings from the SNA Skillset Survey;
There is a need for Consumer Electronic Service & Repair Technicians
Recruitment challenges are due to a lack of proper skills training
The top 6 competencies relevant to employers’ activities at basic level are;
- Control Systems (PLC)
- Project Management
- Environment Legislation & Practice
- Electrical – Wiring / Basic Skills
- Circuit boards
- Customer Service
Customer Service stands out as one of the main skills required within the curriculum.
When asked what the obstacles are to implement or increase repair activities, the main responses were:
Lack of trained/ skilled technicians
Shortage or availability of parts
Impact of cheaper products on the market verses the cost to repair.
Repair plays a vital role in Ireland’s Consumer Electronics sector, contributing to the circular economy by minimizing waste and extending product lifespan. However, a shortage of skilled repair workers poses a challenge to achieving circularity. In 2022, approximately 25 million units of small electronic devices and appliances were generated in Ireland, but only 40% were taken back for recycling of old and broken appliances. Globally, mismanaged disposal of small electronic equipment amounts to an estimated annual material loss of $10 billion.
The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy acknowledges the significance of repair and skillset training in shifting away from a linear waste society. The Circular Economy and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2022 enables setting targets for repair levels across different sectors, including electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). The impending EU Repair Directive will mandate Ireland and other Member States to increase repair services’ availability on products like EEE, ensuring consumer access to information and repair services post-guarantee expiration. This necessitates sustained action from manufacturers and suppliers, emphasizing the need for a skilled, accessible, and expanded repair service industry.
Trilogue negotiations between the EU Parliament, Council, and Commission commenced on December 7th, aiming to implement the Repair Directive by Spring 2024. For Ireland, this implies that these extensive repair requirements might be in place by the end of 2025.
Fastrack into Information Technology (FIT) has taken a proactive step by launching the innovative ‘Consumer Electronics Service Technician’ training course, aiming to combat the skills gap and potentially align with future ‘right to repair’ laws. This program seeks to bolster environmental sustainability while addressing the scarcity of skilled workers.