Name: Kelly Vincent
Company: Kelly Electrics, Female Electricians Ltd
Courses: City & Guilds 2399 Solar PV Full-8 and previously City & Guilds 2330 L2&3
We caught up with Kelly to ask her why she chose to take the 2399 Solar PV Full-8 course and to find out what made her decide to become an electrician.
Reason for Training?
I worked within the NHS in an administrative role for almost 10 years and although I enjoyed it I didn’t feel like I was being challenged enough. I moved through various different NHS Trusts and Services, but I knew I didn’t want to be stuck inside an office everyday anymore and I wanted to learn something new. I wanted a job where I could choose my hours but still earn good money, so when I spoke to my parents my dad, being a building contractor with a successful business suggested electrics or plumbing. I looked into it and thought the technical side of being an electrician appealed to me more than plumbing, so I did some research online and TradeSkills4U stood out with the best reviews. I signed up to the 2330 Level 2 & 3, which meant I would be out of work for 9 months, but it was on a 2 week on 2 week basis which allowed me to do some temp work in between. That was 8 years ago, and even though you now offer shorter courses for Domestic Installers, which would have been perfect for me, having done the full 2330 (now replaced by the 2365 Diploma) I feel I have a more rounded and thorough knowledge than some of the students doing the Domestic Installer course, so am pleased I did it.
How long have you been working in the electrical industry?
When I first qualified I wanted to get a trainee job with a company so I could learn the practical knowledge and build my confidence. I applied to British Gas, local electrical firms and big electrical companies, but no one was employing anyone at the time. I almost gave up when I got a call from a new company looking for trainees to work alongside their senior electricians. It was fate, because the job was local, the hours where perfect, and the person I was teamed up with was a brilliant teacher. 6 years later I’m confident and competent and running my own business and training other females.
Tell us about your business and the staff you employ?
I have two full-time female electricians working for me, and a long standing part-time female, who is currently in her last year at university studying Architecture. When I first became self-employed and turning up for jobs, the feedback from my clients was that they opted for me not only because of my reputation and reviews, but also because I was a female. I didn’t know if people would take me seriously being a female tradesperson, but the response has been amazing. Since then I have tried to promote and encourage women to get into the construction industry and provide opportunities for them for training.
Why did you decide to take the 2399 Solar PV course and how will this help your business?
I’ve been a domestic and light commercial electrician for 7 years, and although site work has never appealed to me I have always been interested in renewable energy. Elly joined our team almost two years ago now and she has a background in solar power and is extremely passionate about green technology. My husband and I recently bought a house and have been renovating it, I thought it was the perfect time for Elly and I to get qualified in Solar PV installation and set up a solar panel installation on the property, which we could use for our MCS installer assessment.
What other courses have you studied with Trade Skills 4U and how did these help you?
In 2009 I booked myself onto the 2330 Level 2 & 3 (now replaced by the 2365 Diploma). I was nervous driving into the training centre, and as I made my way to the classroom I could feel myself shaking and I was on the verge of walking back to my car. But when I saw the other students, looking around as unsure as I was, and the big old smile on the tutors face beckoning me in and welcoming everyone, I took a seat and very quickly felt at ease. The other students where all very friendly and supportive, interested in my choice of career change, and learning a new skill with tutors that actually care about what they’re teaching, it gave me the confidence I needed to continue my journey.
Tell us about your training experience with Trade Skills 4U?
I really enjoyed the course as a whole, the teachers were all very knowledgeable and happy to give further explanations if you didn’t understand anything. The environment was warm and peaceful, we were able to concentrate when we needed to and test conditions were all very relaxed and calming. The workshops were as realistic as they could be for a training centre, and the rooftops for the solar course were fab, although I wish we had got to spend some more time on them.
What are your plans for your business?
We have designed the installation for solar panels at the house we own, and will be installing it in the next couple of months. I’m hoping to arrange for Elly to work with a Solar PV installer working around London on new build properties, so we can gain some solid experience in commercial solar installs and how they differ to domestic ones. It’s early stages yet!
What is the best experience you have had so far in your career?
Training newly qualified women and being able to help them grow in confidence, watching them learn and improve and eventually work unsupervised is very satisfying!
Do you have any advice for other women looking to retrain as an electrician?
Do it! If you’re not shy of hard work, you can dedicate yourself to it, and if you want a job that you can feel satisfied from at the end of every day, then do it. It’s got a perfect mix of technical and physical work, full of problem solving as well as working up a sweat! I’ve never looked back.
What has your experience been like working in a typically male dominated industry?
I’ve had a really positive experience, the men I have worked with onsite have always been very respectful, interested and supportive, and I’ve never had a problem finding work. I have very loyal clients, and have managed to build a good reputation. The feedback from clients has all been really amazing, and I think women have the ability to make an impact and bring a different experience to construction work in people’s home.
What opportunities do you think there are for women working in the electrical industry?
I feel like there could be more promotion and education for girls in schools at an early stage to encourage them into the electrical industry, I don’t feel that girls even think of trades as an option when they’re at school. I did find it difficult to find a job as a trainee when I first started, but I have no way of knowing if it was because I was a woman, or if it was because of the recession. I like to think it was because of the recession!
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about, ie any achievements/awards etc
- Women in Construction Awards 2014 Finalist
- Britain’s Top Tradesman 2014 National Finalist and Highly Commended
- BEST Business Women Awards 2015 – Shortlisted and Runner up
- We attended a careers event at Preston Manor School in 2014 for the ‘Challenging Perceptions of Women’s Work’ for year 8 students
We wish Kelly the very best of luck for the future and hope her business continues to thrive
If you are interested in any of the courses mentioned in this post please visit our Course Finder page.