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From CSCS to ECS, Which Cards Do Electricians Need And Why?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 15th September 2014

It is almost impossible to gain access to a construction site without being in possession of a trade card.  Not only does a card prove your identity, qualification level and occupation, it also confirms your awareness of site Health and Safety. Deaths on construction sites are currently at their lowest level ever with 48 deaths recorded in 2011/12.

The Card for Electricians

There are several cards used on construction sites, the most commonly known about is the CSCS card which demonstrates your competence to work at industry standards.  Almost any job on a construction site will require a valid CSCS card, however as an electrician it is the ECS card you will need as this is the only card that will allow you access to carry out electrical work on site.  An ECS card proves your electrical skills and is the only CSCS affiliated card for the electrical industry.

The ECS Card Explained

The ECS is known as the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme and is the occupational card scheme for UK Electrotechnical workers.  Whether you are a technically qualified manager or a trainee electrician, you will require a valid ECS card which proves your competence to industry standards.

There are currently in excess of 100,000 registered ECS card holders in the UK.  It is worth getting an ECS card even if you are not currently working on site.  It takes time to apply and around 4 weeks to receive your card and without an ECS card, you will be sent home which could cost you a job opportunity in the future.

The difference between a CSCS card and an ECS card

There is often confusion surrounding a CSCS card and an ECS card.  If you see an electrical site job advertised that asks for a CSCS card, it is the usually ECS card that you will need.  The ECS scheme is affiliated to and recognised by the CSCS as the equivalent competence card. Most job advertisements ask for a CSCS card on any construction related jobs, however a CSCS card on it's own will not allow you to carry out electrical work.

A CSCS card is proof that individuals can work safely on a construction site, however there are a number of other site occupations that require a different type of card.  All are of the same standard as the CSCS and are affiliated to it.  So there is no difference between a CSCS card and an ECS card in terms of site safety.

Which ECS card will I need?

Having confirmed that you need an ECS card as an electrician, you may well have heard electricians talking about the various types of cards they hold.

In England and Wales, the cards are known as ECS cards, in Scotland they are known as SJIB (Scottish Joint Industry Board.)  The cards are essentially the same, although you will need the appropriate card to work in these areas.

You may also have heard an ECS card being known as a JIB (Joint Industry Board) card. The JIB is the issuing authority on the ECS card, there is no additional card.

Finally,  for electrical installers there are two tiers to an ECS card, gold card (installation electrician) and white card (trainee or apprentice.) Which card you receive will be dependant on your qualifications or training.  It is important before applying that you meet the requirements for the card you are applying for.

Once issued, an ECS card is valid for 3 years after which it must be renewed and a Health and Safety assessment taken.

ECS Installation Electrician – Gold card

An ECS Installation Electrician card is issued to electricians who have demonstrated that they have completed a formal industry regulated competency based qualification which includes technical theory with practical and competency assessments.

As a general guide, the mandatory requirements are an NVQ level 3 in a recognised competency based qualification.  Additionally, new trainees to the electrical industry from the 1st September 2011 will have to compete the technical theory, practical and competency assessments of the Level 3 NVQ diploma in Installing Electrotechnical systems and equipment (building, structures and the environment.)

If your qualifications are more than 3 years old, you will also need a current recognised health and safety qualification or certificate and a formal BS7671 qualification.

There is also the opportunity to have your grade printed on your ECS card if you hold an appropriate NVQ Level 3 qualification and have relevant practical experience.

ECS Apprentice – white with red stripe

To be eligible for an ECS Apprentice card, applicants must be undertaking any electrical or Electrotechnical Advanced Modern Apprenticeship (AMA.)

ECS Trainee Electrician – white with red stripe

Many students training with Trade Skills 4U for the first time will fall into this category. There are 3 levels to being a trainee electrician and the qualifications completed will determine which card you can get. 

Level 1: If you have completed your Level 2 Technical Certificate such as C&G 2330 L2, C&G 2365 L2, EAL equivalent then you will be at Level 1.

Level 2: If you have completed your Level 2 & 3 Technical Certificate such as C&G 2330 L2 & L3, C&G 2365 L2 &L3 or EAL equivalents then you will be at Level 2.

Level 3: If you have your Level 2 & Level 3 Tech Certs plus evidence of your Employer’s sponsorship then you will be at Level 3. In addition, evidence that you are working towards the AM2 and level NVQ 3  is required. 

Please note in the points above we have referred to the most recent qualifications that our students are likely to have completed, however on the ECS website it still refers to older equivalent qualifications such as C&G 2351 & 2360. 

You will also need an up to date recognised health and safety qualification or certificate.

Every card is different

It is important to read the application form carefully when applying for an ECS card.  Electricians have been disappointed when not issued with the correct card.  The only way to prove competence is by the verification of documents, so if the correct documentation is not sent, it could lead to a card being issued that you were not expecting.

Holding an ECS card proves your skill level and also means you are committed to setting the high standards required in the electrical industry.  All levels of ECS card demonstrate a high level of commitment and competency in electrical work and Health and Safety awareness.

It is only by demonstrating this commitment that construction sites will continue to become safer places to work in the future.

 

Categories: ecs card, cscs card

How To Stay Safe & Avoid Tool Theft From Your Van

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 5th September 2014

One of the main issues that affect electricians is the security of tools.  From light fingered workers to van thieves, there is always some factor that can affect the safety of tools.  Tools are an essential to the work of an electrician and whilst insurance cover does help, there is still the time and inconvenience of having to replace tools that have taken years to build up, not to mention the revenue lost from being unable to work.

Tool Theft

Tool theft from vans is on the increase again in part due to the upturn of the economy.  Specialist insurer ECIC has seen claims for tool theft rise year on year with an average cost per claim now in excess of £5,000.  Tool theft has always been common, with many thieves being 'opportunist' and calculating their move on you before you are even aware.

Unfortunately tool theft seems to have moved with the times and despite advances in technology on vans, thieves have also developed technology to enable overriding of features such as electronic keys.

Covering the basics

All seasoned sparkies will know to not leave their tools in the van overnight or if this is unavoidable parking with the doors against a wall in a well lit area is the best security you can hope for to protect your tools. We had a an experienced electrician doing some update training with us a few months back who was unfortunately the victim of tool theft on a grand scale.  After emptying his van of his tools into his home, he was then burgled that night with thieves accessing the property undetected and making off with all his tools.  Damage to the van was also caused.  Lost revenue to his business went into the thousands by the time the damage was repaired, tools replaced, working time lost not to mention the associated stress.

Hearing this story inspired us to write this article as it made us think more about vehicle security.

How to secure your van

Securing your van is the first step to keeping your tools safe.  Don't rely on the locks supplied as standard on your van.  Some vans have locks fitted that thieves can open within 60 seconds using a cheap lock pick brought on line.  Insurer ECIC recommend replacing all your van locks with Thatcham Research endorsed locks.  These locks have undergone extensive testing and will therefore buy additional time and make the thief think twice about touching your van.

Once your locks are up to the job, additional locks should be considered.  Popular options amongst electricians include Slamlocks where the door automatically locks once closed, Slamplates which add additional protection over locks and deadlocks which add extra locking points are all worthy considerations.  Although it is another expense and often a bind in some cases to get this work done, it will offer security that works.

Put it this way, a thief will go to the van they can target easily as against the one they can't.

Check your van is actually locked

This may seem obvious, but how many of us nowadays simply rely on the electronic transmissions given by the electronic key to lock the van.  Pressing the button as we walk away has become common place.  However as we mentioned earlier in the article, thieves have developed technology to over ride the functions of these transmissions meaning that your van won't actually lock when you press the button.

Known as lock jammers, these unscrupulous thieves block the signal given by your key unknown to you, and your van won't actually lock leaving the thief with full access to your tools without any damage being caused to your van! Sickening isn't it?  There is an easy remedy to this however, and that is to actually check that your van is locked before you leave.  It is the old fashioned try the handle to see if it's locked!

Do you own a Ford Transit?

Investing in your locks is particularly recommended as thieves in recent times have developed a tool that will unlock a Ford Transit without force in around 30 seconds.  The tool which has a number of spindles can be easily manipulated in a lock without the knowledge of anyone around.

With the Ford Transit being the most popular van on the road at the moment, it is not much of a surprise that thieves are targeting Transits specifically.

Prior preparation avoids a poor performance!

It is worth remembering that most thieves are opportunist and are just looking for an easy way to steal.  Making their job as hard as possible minimises your chances of being their next victim.  Always remembering to lock your van every time you leave it, even if you're just popping into the shop can stop a whole load of grief.

 

NAPIT Highlight Construction Skills Shortage

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 22nd August 2014

NAPIT one of the UK’s leading competent persons scheme provider have highlighted the need for more to be done to meet the increasing skills shortage in the construction sector. Recent reports show that the industry is needs to fill 182,000 jobs in the next five years to keep the economic recovery on track. The latest Construction Trade Survey from the Construction Products Association states that the sector has continued to grow despite various challenges. This means more demand for installers on wide variety of projects both domestic and commercial.

Ian Halton, NAPIT’s Training and Business Relationship Director said: “The construction industry desperately needs an influx of skilled installers to meet increasing demand and apprenticeships are a great way to achieve this. We feel that more must be done to ensure younger people are still entering various trades within the construction industry and gaining the appropriate skills to do so. If this skills gap is allowed to grow, the future of the industry is not looking secure.”

NAPIT has called on its members to take part in a scheme to help create work experience and apprenticeship placements as a means to help bridge this gap and we fully support this campaign. Here at Trade Skills 4U we know just how hard it is to find an installer willing to take on an apprentice these days. Despite the fact that 96 per cent of employers who take on an apprentice report it has a positive impact for their company, the fact remains that in an industry where 90% of the companies are micro-businesses it is still near on impossible for many to find a placement.

This has been the case for many years and our customers know it too, which is why many choose to self-fund their training, front load it and then enter the industry with skills that immediately add value for employers. Of those attending our City & Guilds 2365 Diploma courses over 90% find employment either during or shortly after completing the course. Most will then also self-fund their NVQ essentially funding the whole apprenticeship process themselves.

This model helps break the main issue with the traditional apprenticeship which is the chicken and egg scenario of needing an employer first to get trained. For many this simply serves as a huge barrier to starting out in the industry. What is important is that installers get the right training and the right experience be that on an apprenticeship scheme or by self funding their training to break into the industry.

We agree that more needs to be done to encourage both employers to take on an apprentice and also for brighter students to be encouraged to recognise that apprenticeships are an excellent way to progress their careers.

With the industry continuing to take off the demand for Domestic Installers will continue to rise also. The route to qualifying as a domestic electrician is much shorter than a full apprenticeship and this could help relieve the pressure on the commercial sector and help us meet the increasing demand. It could be that a shorter apprenticeship scheme for domestic electricians comes into force which would be a great way for new entrants to take their first steps as an installer.

We too are working with employers to help our students find placements. We have set up www.trade-buddy.co.uk and expanding our relationships with employers looking to take on trainee electricians or electricians mates.

What is clear is that to meet any of these demands we need to somehow convince the micro businesses of the benefits of an extra pair of hands especially in a growing market. If you can take on apprentice or provide a work experience placement for an electrical installer please contact us and we can help you find someone who fits your needs.

Are you an installer who’s looking to take on apprentices? Contact NAPIT on 0845 5430330 or email awes@napit.org.uk for more information about the scheme. All NAPIT installers who take on apprentices will get £30 off their renewal fees and up to £30 off for providing a work experience placement, depending on the length of the placement.

 

The Impact of Help To Buy On Home Building in 2014

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 19th August 2014

With the UK now officially out of recession and large house price increases seen over the last 12 months , things seem to have really turned a corner. In particular the governments Help to Buy Scheme has really made a difference with demand for new homes in particular benefiting from the incentive. This in turn has lead to increases in demand for skilled labour to work on larger projects. So we thought we would take a closer look at predictions for the future and the scheme itself.

Where is the growth going to come from?

Private housing is expected to grow by 15% by the end of 2014.  This signifies an end to the worst recession seen in the UK for 35 years. This is a welcome boost to the construction industry which is currently valued at £111 billion.  By 2017, the Construction Products Associations is anticipating growth of 19%.  This growth will be achieved through focusing on major policies such  as the Help To Buy scheme along with other capital investments which will focus on repairs and renewals.

More about the help to buy scheme

There are two components to the help to buy scheme.

The Help to Buy Equity Loan enables people to buy a newly-built home with a deposit of at least 5% of the property price, while the government offers a loan of up to 20%. The rest is covered by a mortgage.

Meanwhile, the Mortgage Guarantee offers mortgage lenders the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgages where a borrower has a deposit of between 5% and 20%. Because of this support, participating lenders are able to offer more mortgage products to borrowers with small deposits.

How the help to buy scheme can help

As the name suggests, the help to buy scheme helps individuals to get on the property ladder who might otherwise be held back by financial restraints such as a lack of deposit or a latent sellers market.  The scheme, which is for people who want to purchase a brand new property is designed to assist people to up size or get on the property ladder.  This in turn creates more demand in the construction industry for private housing.

A gov.uk press release published on the 29th May 2014 reports that 27,861 people have brought a new home through the help to buy scheme.  The Help to Buy scheme is opening up home ownership to 1000's of people who would otherwise not be able to buy a new property and is part of Governmental plans designed to reward hard working people build a better future.

Although the figure makes up less than 3% of overall home ownership, the scheme has demonstrated how to successfully target people who need a hand to get on the property ladder.

Is help to buy boosting trade?

The private housing sector is seeing rapid growth which, back in October 2013, was forecast by Construction Products Association as lasting for 18 months with concern cited uncertainty when the Help to Buy policy was due to end.  This is because without such policies in place the housing market would not be able to self sustain itself.

However, there was great news in May 2014 when the Government announced that the Help to Buy scheme was to be extended until March 2020 meaning that the scheme will now support the building of 200,000 new homes.

The construction industry output has been forecast to grow 4.6% in 2015.  With the Help to Buy scheme off to a strong start and more Governmental commitment to support both the construction industry and home buyers, it will be interesting to see how this commitment will affect the growth forecasts of the construction industry in the coming months.

Will the scheme be closed early?

The biggest question on everyone's lips is will the Government pull the plug early? Recent house price rises have increased fears that a housing bubble is building. It has been suggested that help to buy may be responsible and that the Government needs to halt the scheme to adjust the market. However the Bank of England has recently hinted that interest rate rises could happen within the next 12 months and it appears that this in itself will cool the market with no need to pull the plug on help to buy early. 

At the end of the day growth in the housing sector should not just be about house prices but should be about more houses. As long as the scheme continues then this will continue to encourage more buyers of new homes and help generate more work and job opportunities for all kinds of tradesmen. 

 

Product Review: Megger MFT1735 - The Ultimate Multi-Function Tester

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 6th August 2014

Known for their state of the art, market leading testing equipment, Megger has been the name of choice for electricians for many years – in fact Megger was established in the late 1800's and has been designing and making test instruments ever since.

The Megger brand is recognised worldwide, thanks to the constant product development and ground breaking innovations that meet the growing demands and pressures faced by the electrical industry, in particular issues surrounding earth electrode resistance measurements.   This is where the latest multi-function installation tester comes into play.  The Megger MFT1735.

The Megger MFT1735

Instantly recognisable as being part of the Megger family, in particular the MFT series, the MFT1735 comes with state of the art facilities including two pole, three pole, stakeless and ART earth electrode resistance measurements.

Naturally, all functions with Megger instruments enable electricians to test low voltage electrical installations in line with the latest 17th edition of the IET wiring regulations.  It provides all the tests required to complete the necessary electrical certification for domestic, commercial and industrial fixed wiring installations.

Combined with ultimate reliability and the ability to withstand accidental misuse and voltage transients that other testers on the market cannot match, the Megger MFT1735 is an ideal testing instrument for electricians at all stages of their career from trainee to full scope.

User friendly but technologically advanced

The MFT1735, like the other MFT models is renowned for it's user friendly interface.  However this is not all it has to offer.  The MFT1735 is also packed with a host of other features designed to reduce maintenance costs and save time on completing tests.  Standard features such as:

internal, fast recharging batteries,

built in memory and bluetooth communications to speed up test results

simple menu functions using colour coded rotary switches – never search around for hidden menu features again!

These are designed to make your working life as an electrician easier.  However the technical side is far from overlooked, with a whole host of additional features that round off the MFT1735 as being the best test instrument yet from Megger and these include:

Two and three wire non-trip loop testing for RCD protected circuits

Type B RCD and 3-phase RCD testing for industrial applications with no earth

3-terminal earth test and stakeless testing for spike resistance measurement

EN61010 CATIV safety ratings and tough IP54 case

Megger not only ensures that you remain fully compliant but also ensures the MFT1735 is up for the job. Whether you are working in dusty or humid environments or even in a time pressed customers front room, you can rely on this test instrument to come up with the goods.

Versatility

Megger doesn't just stop at environmental hazards.  The MFT1735 is equally at home working at height on ladder platforms, hung round the neck or hand-held.  Whatever your working situation you can be sure that the MFT1735 can be operated easily with either your right or left hand with dual lock and test buttons located at each end of the instrument.

The robust moulded case that the MFT1735 is supplied with has plenty of additional storage pockets for essentials such as the earth electrode kit and any optional extras you may chose to purchase.

Megger accessories

The great thing about Megger is that everything you need to get started is included – there are no costly additional leads or calibrations to purchase, the MFT1735 is ready to go when you are!  Included in the price is:

A mains test lead

A switched probe for fast and easy testing

A full 12 month calibration certificate

A an upgradeable warranty

If you are looking for an ultimate piece of testing equipment that will be a huge compliment to your tool box then you should be looking no further than the MFT1735.  Not only is it a piece of equipment to rely on, it will also give many years of outstanding service.

If your current tester is becoming a bit of an embarrassment and is short on features and functionality, the MFT1735 is worth serious consideration.

Categories: megger, reviews, multi-function tester

Case Study: Jon Ballard

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 28th July 2014

Today we caught up with one of our students Jon Ballard. Jon started training with Trade Skills 4U back in 2012 and has since taken a number of courses. Jon was able to fund his courses in part with ELC credits from his resettlement office. Jon’s company Ballard Electricals is based in Birmingham and has gone from strength to strength since leaving the Army in 2013. He is now sending his own employees to Trade Skills 4U to get qualified. We asked him some questions to find out why he travelled all the way from Birmingham to train with us.

How long have you been working in the electrical industry?

I had my first taste of Electrical work at 15 whilst I was labouring on one of my dads building sites during the school holidays... I was hooked!  Dad decided it was my time to learn about the building trade.  So he politely loaned (forced upon me) each of the trades in-turn, thus enabling me to learn a little bit about everything.  It worked, apart from a small (19 year) detour in my building career (the Army) I have always had an attraction to the site life.

What type of work were you doing before training?

I spent 19 years in the Army, with the last 9 years within the Bomb Disposal trade.  Being a cheeky bugger by nature, I managed to do a lot of 'moonlighting' away from the Army as an electrician around my military commitments.  Life on site got to the point where the boys were taking the mickey about my lack of electrical qualifications even though I had lots of years on site..... TS4U here I come!

What were you key goals when initially training with Trade Skills 4U?

Initially, I came to TS4U for a few 1 day courses to increase my knowledge of data networks, intruder alarms and door entry etc.  However, when I got to know the staff and facilities I decided that I wanted to use TS4U to conduct my Electrotechnical Level 2 & 3 Diplomas.

What difference has the training made to your career?

Gaining my level 2 & 3 qualifications has been great.  It has wrapped up my 20+ years’ experience with the theoretical knowledge giving me the factual reasons for doing what us Sparks do on a daily basis.  It has also turned me in to an argumentative bugger now.... I know it all! Ha.

What type of work are you now doing?

Since leaving the Army in Late 2013 I have been lucky enough to see my company (started in 2009) become stronger and more resilient. I have managed to transition my focus from a split between the Army vs. Electrical to being now fully focused on the development of my Electrical Contracting business.  I have attempted to set up my business so that we are not stuck in just one facet of electrical work.  Just yesterday, I started the day in a restaurant renovation in central Birmingham and completed the day fitting an additional socket for a lovely old chap down the road.  I feel that if I restrict my work to one facet of electrical work (domestic, commercial or industrial) I put the business at risk from future collapses in the industry. However, if I try to do too much...... This too, may end badly, seeing us do nothing well. A balancing act that I must get right.

What made you choose to train with Trade Skills 4U?

Over the past 10 years I have undertaken various electrical courses, mostly to stop the mickey-taking from the boys on site.  I have undergone training at 3 different providers all promising various things.  TS4U was one of those 3.  I chose TS4U to do my Level 2 & 3 because they lived up to those promises and when I sat back to think about where I should do this important training, I thought that TS4U gave the best balance of facilities and instructor engagement.

What would you say to someone thinking about training with Trade Skills 4U?

The 2 other training providers I have used over the years both had poor facilities and some, in my opinion, condescending and snob-ish instructors - that annoyed me.  I had done 10 years on site (and 3 fighting operational tours abroad with the Army) before going to my first course and this bloke was talking to me like I was a moron!  I worked hard to control my tongue and temper, which as it turned out, was great practice for dealing with the occasional customer!  TS4U have some amazing instructors.  I have not met one instructor who has not been helpful and quick to assist me.  When I am spending this much money, that is important.

What would you say to someone thinking about training with Trade Skills 4U?

I have no reservation in recommending TS4U to everyone looking for a well-rounded training programme for an electrical career.  Everyone I have dealt with, from the instructors through to the back-room staff have been great.  Smiling and happy to help, even when they are visibly busy with some other burden at the time.

What are you planning on doing in the future?

My future?.... Since I had a late start with the educational side of things I have plans to finish off my NVQ and I have my Level 4 design course booked for later in 2014.  I am also looking for another course to sink my teeth in to for 2015.... Answers on a postcard..... I would like to reach a higher standard of knowledge through continued electrical education.  I think this will allow me to couple this with my practice experience and ultimately become more astute at bidding for contracts.  I have some product development work with manufacturers currently underway and am looking at expanding my design experience with this new qualification and knowledge.

We wish Jon the best of luck with his future training and business. Having trained Jon numerous times we know he is a very professional, disciplined, organised and friendly individual who works hard and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to anyone looking for an electrician in Birmingham or the West Midlands.

 

 

 

 

Categories: case study

Register of 3rd Party Certifiers. What's happening?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 24th July 2014

Back in April 2013 the Government made some amendments to Part P.  One of the key changes was the introduction of a registered third party who could certify electrical work that was carried out by an installer who is not a registered competent person.

However it was not until 6th April 2014 that an official Government approved register was finalised finally ending the confusion about insurance and work guarantees that surrounded third party electrical work sign offs.

Industry Support

The third party register has got off to a rocky start with both the NICEIC and ELECSA opting out of the third party certification scheme amid fears that it could undermine registered electricians, while NAPIT and Stroma point out that the scheme allows electricians to act in place of Building Control officers who can already deliver these services.

The NICEIC and ELECSA believe that the registers requirements fall well short of the standards and safeguards that will enhance electrical safety.  Furthermore it is argued that the register is not UKAS accredited meaning that there will be no independent verification that the third party scheme operators are performing to the required standards.

As a result of this, both the NICEIC and ELECSA decided not to produce such a register.

However, the Government is still pressing ahead, accepting that UKAS are unable to accredit this type of work and instead identifying other independent parties to conduct the appropriate audits and verification of the scheme operators.

Third Party Certification Scheme Operators

Currently, there are only two scheme operators who participate in the third party certification scheme.  These are NAPIT Registration Ltd and Stroma Certification Limited.

Registration is of both the individual certifier and the company that employs them, this ensures that requirements that can only be placed on a legal entity can be enforced. No electrical business can certify any third party electrical work until they are registered on a Third Party Certification Scheme.  Therefore technical competencies of all electricians are checked before third party certification is awarded.

Certifying other peoples work

Electricians can become registered with a Government approved third party scheme provider through either their own company or firm.  This would be in addition to self certification registration.  Once third party registered you would be able to check domestic electrical work that is undertaken by others and certify it is compliant with building regulations.

The certifier must be notified by the installer in advance, and the certifier involved throughout the installation, not just at the end. The third party certifier will complete a DCLG agreed third party certification report (an EICR is not acceptable) subject to satisfactory completion of inspection and testing, and give this to the person ordering the work. Electrical work must be notified by the certifier to their scheme within 5 days of completion, and this information will be forwarded to local authorities in accordance with the Regulations.

How Technical Competencies will be assessed

Electricians have to meet a minimum technical competence.  Both the electrical business and electricians themselves will be assessed on technical competence.  You can expect to be examined on your ability to carry out inspection and testing of electrical installations.  This will include an independent verification of technical qualifications and an on-site witnessed assessment of inspection and testing carried out by a business or individual unconnected with the third party certification scheme. You can see the level of competence required below:

Source: https://www.gov.uk/third-party-certification-schemes-for-domestic-electrical-work

In the above table we can see that the entry requirements for the scheme are the same as those for the current domestic installer scheme plus a Level 3 Certificate in Inspection & Testing. In laymans terms this means you will need the usual set of qualifications plus a C&G 2394 as a minimum. Most people will ask why not the C&G 2395? The reason is that the certifier will need to be present during the installation so periodic inspection & testing isn't really relevant. However most people who take the C&G 2394 will probably want to take the 2395 course too as the two courses overlap.

Authorisation of third party scheme providers

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are responsible for authorising the third party scheme operators.  Third party scheme operators have to meet a total of 21 conditions of authorisation which comprise of the scheme operators own obligations to the DCLG, their obligations to their registered members and customers as well as to Local Authorities.

The last word from NAPIT....

NAPIT agree that the third party register has been receiving some bad press, however as David Cowburn, the Managing Director of NAPIT states, the third party register does have its good points.

David says “Third Party Certification has been getting a bad press because it is portrayed as undermining the work of registered installers. NAPIT share these concerns and will always strongly recommend to householders that they should use registered installers to ensure that work complies with the Building Regulations and is covered by suitable financial protection. However, it is already the case that electrical work can be inspected by Building Control (either a local authority or private Building Control approved inspectors) and this creates a problem that either the work is inspected by someone without electrical expertise, or Building Control have to find an expert and charge for the inspection”

David goes on to state that the inspection of electrical works by a certifier as against someone from a Local Authority without electrical expertise can only be a good thing and no work can be signed off without a thorough inspection:

“The introduction of Third Party Certification effectively recognises that electricians can do the work of Building Control. As such it is important that it doesn’t weaken the approach that would be taken by a local authority and as such the Certifier must be notified by the installer before the work begins, and must be involved in inspecting the project throughout the installation – this scheme does not allow certification of finished work which can only be regularised by a local authority. Furthermore, a Certifier will have to submit their complete electrical installation report to NAPIT for validation, so work cannot be rubber-stamped without evidence of thorough inspection. We are already being approached by local authorities who would rather refer DIY work to electricians under a Third Party Certification scheme than take the project on themselves.”

Your thoughts

There has been interesting debate on this subject in recent weeks.  Which side of the fence are you on?  Is the register making a simple thing complicated or is there really something good to be had from it.  Are we undermining expertise or embracing it?  Over to you guys.....

 

Categories: 3rd party register

Beware! Counterfeit Electrical Books - Can You Spot The Fake?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 11th July 2014

So we recently reported on counterfeit electrical products and components. However last week in our centre we found that 3 members of a PAT Testing course had inadvertently bought counterfeit copies of the “Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment 4th Edition” book.

Not only is this bad in terms of taking money away from the industry that invests heavily in producing technical literature it can also have some very serious consequences in terms of safety.

How can this be I hear you ask? Well when the counterfeiters copy a book these days they don’t simply photo copy it. They actually use software to scan the book and reproduce it. However the software makes mistakes and sometimes letters and numbers are mis-interpreted or completely missing. Needless to say if you can’t rely on your book to give you the correct figures then you run the risk of getting something very wrong.

How to Spot A Counterfeit Book?

It is actually very very hard. These days the counterfeit books are look and feel almost exactly like the real thing. With the code of practice books we found that the counterfeit actually had brighter lighter colours but you wouldn’t know this unless you put two books together. 

Can you spot the fake below?

The only other way to tell if your book is not real is to spot a typo or two. If you see a word misspelled or a number or letter missing then you may realise that you have bought a dodgy copy. Looking at the image above the only real way to spot the fake is if you notice the the table numbers are different. The table number should be 15.3 but in the top version the number is 13.3. Also on the far right figure 15.1 text reads "CDamaged" below where it should simply read "Damaged". This is indicative of the type of errors you will find in a counterfeit book. The only other way to tell if your book is not real is to spot a typo or two. 

How to avoid buying a counterfeit book

It is simply a case of making sure that you have bought the book from a reputable establishment. If you are buying a book from ebay or somewhere similar then you really are taking a risk. We would advise buying books directly from the IET or Amazon. Two of the counterfeit books that were found in our centre were bought from Amazon Marketplace which essentially is a network of sellers selling new and second hand items. We recommend avoiding Amazon Marketplace for purchasing these books as it is really essential that you get an original copy.

We spoke with our friends at the IET about the books and they had said that this is a growing problem, however this is the first time they had come across counterfeit versions of this PAT testing book. As such we have arranged for these counterfeit books to be sent to the IET so they can hold copies for reference. We have been told by the IET that the problem was getting worse and that recently they found that 20% of the books on a course in a local college held by students turned out to be counterfeit. 

If you find you have a counterfeit copy of a book we would advise contacting the seller directly and demanding a refund.

 

Categories: books

Get a Handy Cable Labeller Completely Free with Brother & Trade Skills 4U

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 8th July 2014

At the end of the day even the best electrician can have trouble in keeping track of which wire goes where on a complex install and when you are working on a day rate time means money. So to help out we have been offering every student that books with us over the past few months the opportunity to get their hands on a Brother P-touch E100 Labelling Machine completely FREE which has specific functions allowing electricians to label wires.

A cable labeller isn’t the first tool that springs to mind when you think about electrical installation, however these handy machines can really save time and money. By clearly and correctly labelling your installation you will appear professional, save time for moves, adds and changes to caballing and make life easier for your customers.  Using a labelling machine eliminates costly mistakes caused by illegible, handwritten and incomplete labels. With wider tapes and fluorescent colours you can also create professional warning signs to ensure the safety of your customers and co-workers.

The P-touch E100 usually retails for around £50 so getting your hands on a free one is a real steal. Students also have the opportunity to upgrade their P-touch to the E550WVP model. This model has extra features including the ability to edit labels wirelessly from your smart phone. The E550WVP model is being offered at £89+VAT which is a saving of over £90 on the normal list price.

To find more on both models see the profiles below:

 

One of the key differences between the two is that the upgarded P-touch will allow you to print onto heat shrink tube which could be very handy indeed. We have limited stock available and this offers ends on the 28th July so don’t delay get your free P-touch with any booking today!

 

Qualification Alert: NVQ for Experienced Electricians To Be Introduced By EAL and C&G

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 26th June 2014

Recently we have been getting calls from numerous experienced electricians who have found themselves almost frozen out of the industry because they lack a Level 3 NVQ qualification. They are unable to get an ECS card or JIB grading as fully qualified until they have completed the 2357 NVQ or EAL Equivalent. The catch is many have older qualifications such as the C&G 236 Part 1 and 2 which are not mapped to the latest C&G 2357 NVQ. This means that experienced electricians with older versions of the technical certificates are stuck in limbo. They literally would need to start at the beginning again with the 2365 or 2357 qualifications (or EAL equivalents).

This seemed crazy and meant that many sparks simply felt that they were being penalised despite having solid experience and older qualifications.

It seems that the powers that be may have heard the cry for help from the 1000’s of sparkies who have found themselves frozen out of the industry. EAL and C&G have both confirmed they will be re-launching the older style NVQ for electricians who have been working in the industry for more than 5 years. We are still waiting for the specific details, however it is likely that the NVQ will be very similar to the C&G 2356 NVQ which was phased out in 2012 and EAL equivalent which was phased out at the end of 2013.

It will now be compulsory to complete the AM2 assessment in order to complete the Level 3 NVQ which most people would have done anyway in order to gain fully qualified status.

So what does this mean for you?

If you have recently completed your tech certs such as 2365, 2330 or EAL equivalents then you will most likely need to still transfer into the 2357 NVQ by way of some form of Bridging unit.

If you have been working in the industry for more than 5 years and can prove your level of competence to be at the same level as the modern day tech certs then you will be able to save time and money to complete this special NVQ for experienced electricians.

We are still waiting on the finer details and as always nothing is set in stone. We would ask any candidates looking to apply for the NVQ to complete a skills assessment form and return that to us so we can assess your competence and the scope of work available to you. We can then confirm which NVQ you can register for and a specific cost for your situation.

Although many installers work in the industry without an NVQ, many see it as the best way to demonstrate their competence to potential employers especially those looking to gain longer contracts on larger projects.

Our advice to everyone is to register for an NVQ sooner than later especially if you happen to fall into the “experienced” bracket as you never know really how long these qualifications will be available.

What is clear is that the range of qualifications required to become fully qualified is actually not too clear. Three years ago the industry tried to simplify the route to becoming fully qualified by introducing the 2357 NVQ which in essence was the 2330’s, NVQ and AM2 assessment all wrapped together in 1 qualification. However it was soon apparent that this prevented a lot of people training in electrical installation because they didn’t have a work placement. As such the 2365’s were introduced and are now one of the best ways for mature students and adults who are re-training to gain a solid grounding in electrical installation and break into the industry.

As always if you are unsure of which qualifications you need, simply call us on 01293 529777 or 0800 856 4448 and we can help. We are specialists for a reason and know more than most when it comes to electrical qualifications. As always we will update you once we have more specifics on the NVQ itself.