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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.

 

Which Van Tops The List For Electricians?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 23rd June 2014

A van is an essential part of running your own electrical contracting business.  However the type of van that is used within the business is often a personal decision.   Deciding whether to own your own van or lease a van is one of the first steps to take. This week we have taken a look at what's on offer and asked you which Van Tops Your List?

And the electricians van of choice is:

Ford Transit Connect

In our survey Ford Transit Connect came out tops – and interestingly the Transit Connect was voted as the most economical van of the year in 2013.  Some electricians have had several Transit vans over the years so this is testament to their quality and reliability.

However it their is still a great buzz around the VW Transporter which is also highly coveted.

VW Transporter – Business Van of the Year 2014

The highly prized Business Van of the Year 2014, the VW Transporter, renowned for reliability, economic fuel consumption and low depreciation value has become somewhat of an icon within the electrical industry, and indeed other trades. However is this the van of the future?

Looking at some other offerings from rival van badges such as Citroen, Vauxhall and Mercedes, it will be interesting to see whether the VW will continue to be the van of choice for so many.

Vans for the future

At one time, vans were there for looks, gadgets and bravado, nowadays the practicalities of running costs, insurance and trade in values are at the forefront of decisions made over which van to purchase.

Taking a look at the latest offerings from big name brands, they are working hard to tempt tradespeople with offerings to make their lives easier.  Here are some examples:

Citroen Berlingo Full Electric

Citroen have a full electric van available.  As well as benefiting from the lowest running costs available, there is also a great Government driven package available to business drivers including subsidised or free parking, tax incentives and approved mileage allowance payments.  Having an electric van would make you money in itself as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

Mercedes Citan

If you're looking for something a bit different to the usual vans you see on the road, you'll be interested to know that Mercedes have launched a small van known as the Mercedes Citan. The level of service on offer from Mercedes outstrip rival brands and includes 24 hour servicing, on line booking and free breakdown cover.

Leasing a van?

If you're thinking of leasing, or are concerned about the cost of fitting out your van with all the racking once you've got it, then LexAutolease believe they have the answer for you. LexAutolease are working with the racking experts Tevo on launching a ready to drive van. Lease a Vauxhall or Fiat van and it will be delivered to you fully racked and ready to drive to your next job.   LexAutolease believe this will save a fifth on your company vehicle cost, and there will be no need to wait whilst the racking is fitted to your vehicle.

More about the VW Transporter?

Ah yes, we couldn't end without some thoughts from electricians of the Van of the year 2014! Stylish, good on fuel and have a reputation of lasting forever.  Certainly a van on many bucket lists amongst our survey respondents - “I'd like to end up with a vw transporter, just for the looks really” and from an owner; “I definitely feel confident this van enhances my company image”. But you can't please everyone.....

“we've had transporters in the past and although they are good looking vans we found the running costs to be too high.  Once they have been dinged by the men, they start to look the same anyway!”

The last word from a van supplier....

Our survey attracted a response from a company who supply new vans to trades people and gave us the low down on what vans are trending at the moment:

 

Citroen Berlingo Enterprise

A small van which comes with air con, sat nav and parking sensors amongst other features and is good value for the price.

 

Ford Transit Connect

A bigger van with better reliability

 

 

VW Caddy

For the badge, however there is no real difference in mileage quality between the caddy and other similar vans.

 

The Vauxhall Vivaro Sportive and Renault Trafic Sport have been the most popular panelled out vans over the last few years as they have all the extras, however recently every other enquiry has been for a Transit Custom as this has a great re-sale price, but is quite basic in terms of features.  If you are looking for features, you'll need to go up the range possibly to the Transit Limited.

If you are hoping to get your hands on a VW Transporter, it is recommended that you lease this van as it has a very expensive list price.  It is the van that many trades people aspire to and has a great residual value.

With all this on offer, you'd be easily forgiven for thinking you're the only sparks on the planet to still be driving around in a Peaugeot Partner! Not so, there are many sparks in the same boat, and whilst these new vans are a great carrot dangler, they still remain a pipe dream for many! Well....maybe you are thinking of going for one of Lex Autoleases fully kitted out vans – we like the sound of those – let us know how you get on!

 

England vs Uruguay Permutations - When Will It End?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 19th June 2014

So as you may know we have some great offers on whilst England remain in which a mathematical chance of winning the cup. However with our defeat to Italy in the first round of games and Costa Rica's surprise win when will this offer run out?

Here are some variations to consider:

England win their next 2 matches

Nice and simple we are straight through to the knock out stages and we are all happy. But are we? It is possible even if we win our next two games there’s a slight chance that if Costa Rica beat Italy, and then Italy beat Uruguay, that England, Italy and Costa Rica would be tied on six points. 

In this situation goal difference would come into play and the two teams with the greatest goal difference would go through.

England beat Uruguay and draw with Costa Rica

Beating Uruguay would almost guarantee they will be out of the tournament. But if we draw with Costa Rica then we need to ensure we have a better goal difference than them as we could be tied on points. However if we don't win our next two games it comes down to goals difference and other results for England to go through. In term of our offer we will still be in it until the next round of games.

England draw with Uruguay and beat Costa Rica

If England draw with Uruguay and then beat Costa Rica we will be relying on Italy to win all their games in order to move onto the next round. But again we will be relying on other results!

England Lose to Uruguay but beat Costa Rica

As crazy as it seems we can still go through if we lose tonight but still beat costa Rica. However it is only possible if Italy win all their games leaving England, Costa Rica and Uruguay all tied on 3 points. Then again it would come down to goal difference.

What does this mean for our 3 Lions Offer?

Well simply put don't hang about. If England lose tonight chances are that the offer will end tomorrow night once Italy have played. If we win that would be brilliant and the offer will still be at least until we next play. 

Looking at the permutations above what is clear is that goals could make a real difference in our group so we need to go all out and win big. Will Rooney and Sturridge tunr up? I bloody well hope so! Come on England! And come on Italy too!

 

Paul Predicts World Cup Scores

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 17th June 2014

Every company has their resident football experts and here at Trade Skills 4U one staff member stands head and shoulders above the rest. Paul works as a course advisor here at Trade skills 4U and his football knowledge is exceptional. As such we have asked him to put his money where his mouth is and predict the scores for the remaining matches.

Every day Paul will be predicting the scores to the matches that afternoon and evening. His initial predications are below, however to continue following his wisdom you simply need to follow our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages.

So to get us off the mark Paul's predications are for today (17/06/2014) are:

Belgium 3  / Algeria 0

Brazil  3 / Mexico 1

Russia 2 / Korea Republic 1

Paul is an avid Newcastle United fan and we also have Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester united fans here in the office leading to a lot of banter. So it is nice for a change for us all unite to support our national team.

Just in case you missed it we are currently offering up to £150 off some of our courses in support of the England football team. To see more on our 3 Lions Offers visit this page.

Obviously if you take on Paul's predications and win some money then you can put that towards the cost of your course too. However we accept no liabililty for any bets made as a result of his tips.

 

Categories: world cup

Growing Problem of Counterfeit Electrical Components

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 13th June 2014

We previously blogged about the issues with couterfeit electrical products such as televisions, chargers and computer equipment being branded as fake electricals and sold on line and on the high street often replicating the real thing.

Looking deeper into the problem

Producers of counterfeit electrical products do not just stop at well known electrical items.  In fact replicas of well known electronic products is only just scratching the surface of electrical counterfeiting.  Electrical components such as MCBs, RCDs and other wiring accessories make up the main haul of counterfeit products intercepted by anti-counterfeiting officials.  Since 2000 the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers' Association (BEAMA) anti-counterfeiting campaign has seen 15 million products seized by officials, the majority of which appear to be manufactured in China.

 

Calls for electricians to be vigilant

With electrical components being the main counterfeit problem, the electrical industry is asking electrical contractors to be more vigilant when purchasing materials from various outlets including local wholesalers and on line retailers.  Counterfeit electrical products are not tested for safety and have not been manufactured to any standard or quality control – factors that genuine manufacturers take very seriously by investing extensively into product development and the relevant electrical standards tests.

Counterfeit MCBs and RCDs are particularly hard to spot as they are often branded with a well known names, the outer casing appears identical to the genuine product even carrying certification marks and the same packaging. It is only on inspection of the inside do they reveal a very dangerous metal connection input to output and no actual mechanism at all meaning they will not perform their role.  Counterfeit MCBs fitted to consumer units will not activate in the event of a power overload.

Furthermore RCDs have been found that do not comply with the latest standards, in particular the new Electro Magnetic Capability (EMC) standards which ensures that RCD's continue to work even when there are high levels of sensitive electrical equipment which have been known to have an effect on the reliability and functionality of an RCD.  Furthermore a small but highly significant change to the RCD manufacturing process includes the addition of an adjustable cable clamp that assists electrical contractors when installing the RCD allowing the cable to be adjusted so it is secure and ensures the cable cannot work loose over time.

Spotting counterfeit products

In the majority of cases, counterfeit electrical products are sold at a much lower price than would be expected for a branded product.  If you are offered electrical components at a price that just seems too good then there is a reasonable possibility that you are being offered counterfeit electrical products.

To avoid such situations occurring, it is recommended to purchase materials at manufacturer approved suppliers or established on line outlets.  Such merchandisers purchase directly from manufacturers and are less likely to inadvertently purchase products from dubious or unknown sources.

Purchasing counterfeit products is highly dangerous and illegal.  Unfortunately counterfeit products can still slip the net no matter how conscientious the supplier is.

How electricians can help

The electrical industry is calling upon electrical contractors to be more aware of the safety requirements when they select materials.  Rather than simply accept products over the counter, electricians are being encouraged to ask for proof of compliance and legitimacy before purchasing products by checking for the latest BS and EN standards.  Whilst many products purchased at the local wholesaler can appear generic, it is essential not to overlook safety and risk purchasing counterfeit products that could endanger life.

The rising problem of counterfeit products can only reduce if electrical contractors insist on genuine certified products which in turn will reduce temptation by suppliers to purchase electrical products from unverified sources.

The electrical industry needs to work together in an effort to stop counterfeit products reaching households and address the growing problem of counterfeiting by squeezing the supply chain.  Squeezing the supply chain will affect those supplying the dangerous products in the first place.  By reducing their financial gains, they will lose interest and move on.

 

Meeting the skills demands of the recovery – construction sector growth fuels needs for installers

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 6th June 2014

In January this year we reported that the construction industry was seeing a return to growth and that 2014 was going to be the best year seen since 2009 when the economic downturn began. We identified that growth would be seen in retail and offices with other commercial sectors such as hotels and leisure seeing larger growth than has been seen in recent years.

This article will see us exploring further the return to growth of the construction industry and how this will impact on electricians themselves – particularly commercial electricians who should be seeing an increase in demand for their skills.

2014 so far – is construction growth going according to plan?

Glenigan, the construction industry intelligence specialists closely monitor construction industry growth and as such are able to identify which market sectors are performing strongly and which are lagging behind.  Glenigan have just issued a quarterly report in April 2014 to confirm that the construction industry as forecast back in January – is on the up.  In fact Glenigan report that confidence in the construction industry is is ballooning as growth in both the office sector – and interestingly housing has continued into the first quarter of 2014.

Office projects up by 34 per cent

As forecast, office projects are the strong performers – they are actually the strongest performer amongst construction projects with numbers of office projects beginning on site rising by 34% on the figure from this time last year.  Closely behind is retail which is up by 28% with hotels and leisure up by 15% from one year ago.

The Glenigan Index, shown below shows construction industry growth over the last year.  The figures are showing strong growth and show significant growth in the month of March to that of March 2013.

Source: www.architectsjournal.com

Private housing also a key driver of increasing construction activity

Housing had been expected to fall this year, however the demand for private housing is rising sharply and is evidenced by strong project starts during the first quarter of 2014.  However, as expected demand for social housing is starting to decline along with other public sector projects such as education, health and community projects.

Private sector demand outstripping the public sector

Projects reliant on public money are now starting to drop off, however the commercial sectors in particular are seeing positive growth.  Private firms and developers are more confident about putting money into construction.

This is leading to increased demand for both domestic and commercial installers as opportunities to work on these new projects grows.  However despite the great news and future outlook, there still remains the issue of a diminishing skill set within the construction industry as the numbers of skilled installers continue to drop.

The lack of skilled electricians and trades people could affect the return to growth

In October 2013, we reported that an ageing workforce could lead to a shortage of electricians.  Whilst we may not have reached those crisis levels yet, the article would not have taken into account the 'ballooning growth' in the construction industry.  If the construction industry continues to grow at the current rate (which is likely) it will be an impossible task to feed the demand for qualified electricians and installers on the up and coming new projects.

Of course, these opportunities present fantastic news for new entrants and trainee electricians entering the electrical industry, however there is a vastly increasing need for further qualified electricians to satisfy the current and future demands within the construction industry.

Finding the right electricians to move forward

Naturally, we understand that figures can be different to what goes on in reality so we spoke to an experienced electrical engineer who carries out work on commercial projects.  He told us that there are many projects going on in the London area at the moment.  One of the main ways companies tender for works and thereby satisfy the demand for electricians has had to change.

How major companies tender for such works

The way that major companies tender for works has changed in recent years.  In the past, such companies had their own 'in house' electricians.  Nowadays, the norm is to sub-contract electricians.

This opens up a whole wealth of opportunity for newly qualified electricians entering the industry to gain work and bolster their experience.  There is likely to be increasing opportunities for long term sub contracting work in key city locations for the foreseeable – and also longer term future.