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The UK Skills Gap - Problem or Opportunity?

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 21st September 2017

UK skills gap

You may well have heard about the skills gap here in the UK - it’s an issue that’s been around for a little while now and to be honest it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better any time soon!

For those who aren’t that aware of what the skills gap is - there’s a real need in this country for skilled workers in specific industries. You can see the list of industries here. However, there simply aren’t enough people to fill those roles, and therefore a gap has formed.

The good news is that jobs in the trades are becoming more and more popular again, which is fantastic news for anyone wanting to train as an electrician or for those that are already in the trade.

One of the most affected industries is the trades and construction

Why has this happened? Well there are a number of reasons - young people preferring to go to uni, a wider number of courses available for people to choose from, the list could go on and on.

The worry is that the gap could get even wider in the coming years, especially with Brexit on the horizon. It’s unclear the exact effect leaving the EU will have, but if tougher immigration laws come into play, which is likely, then it will make it harder for skilled workers to come into the country and fill the gap. Some might even choose to leave.

Add the housing crisis into the mix, and the government’s pledge to build millions of new homes, and it’s unclear how we’ll close that gap.

But is this really a problem, or should we see it as an opportunity for workers?

There’s no denying that many businesses see it as a problem. According to the Federation of Master Builders’ State of Trade Survey 2017, 40% of construction SMEs are finding skills shortages at their highest rate since 2013. Further research has shown that the skills shortage is costing UK businesses around £2bn a year due to recruitment costs, having to hire temporary workers, and paying over market rates for skilled workers.

However, if we take a look at the other side of the coin, this skills gap represents an unprecedented opportunity for those in this country who want to learn a trade, and of course we’d suggest electrical training as a fantastic choice!

If you can learn a trade, put the work in and prove your worth, then you’re going to be absolutely invaluable at the moment, and in the coming years. It’s an exciting time!

So, what to do if you want to become an electrician?

Well there’s never been more information out there for those unsure about what they want to do for a living, which can be useful but also incredibly overwhelming.

If you think a career as an electrician is the right choice for you, you’ll be glad to learn that it’s the highest paid of all the trades with the average salary being £30,000. It’s also an extremely rewarding career with skills that will always be in demand. Plus, don’t think that this is just a job for the boys there are plenty of very successful women electricians out there, read our blog to find out more!

We have plenty of information right here on our website in the form of our blog which has lots of fascinating articles and case studies, and then if you want to learn more about the training we provide, check out our electrician courses, and of course if you prefer to talk to an experienced course adviser they are here to help too.

Our electrical wholesaler friends at QVS Direct have produced a very handy guide listing all the steps you need to go through and consider if you want to get into the electrical industry, and it features plenty of info from Trade Skills 4U, so we know it’s good! For those with a little more experience or who like to dream big, this fantastic interactive guide from Thomson Local explains how to go about starting your own electrician business.

So every time you hear the doom and gloom about the UK skills gap, think of it as an opportunity for you to learn some highly in-demand skills, earn a decent living and make your mark in the industry.

Why choose us

We help thousands of people gain the knowledge, expertise and qualifications to develop successful careers in the electrical and renewable energy industry, and look forward to having the opportunity to help you too. If you are interested in an electrical training course, please visit our course-finder page, alternatively please call a course advisor on 01293 529777 who will be happy to help.


Categories: electrician courses, training, uk skills gap

Sergeant Sean McDowell - Case Study

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 13th September 2017

RAF image


Name: Sergeant Sean Williams McDowell (RAF)

Course: 20 day Bronze course plus PAT Testing.

After coming to the end of a 30 year career in the RAF, having served in many different countries and taken part on several operations, Sergeant Sean McDowell decided to find out what he needed to do to retrain in a trade to prepare himself for when he leaves the RAF next year.

Sean contacted Trade Skills 4U and following a discussion with one our Course Advisors decided to take our Bronze Domestic Installer Course and PAT Testing Course. As part of his resettlement package Sean was able to fund his courses in part with the MOD’s Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC).

I spoke to Sean to ask if he would be kind enough to share his training experience with us and to let us know what his plans are for the future.

Why did you decided to retrain as an electrician?

After 30 years of being in the RAF, I wanted to move into something I enjoy doing and as I’ve always had an interest in DIY I thought I’d take the plunge and get properly qualified in a trade.

Why did you decide to take the Domestic Installer Course and how has this helped you?

I chose this course as it fitted not only with what I could use my Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) for, but also what I wanted from a course.

What are your plans now you have completed your course?

I’m due to leave the RAF in December 2018, and now that I’ve completed my course I can start to ‘cut my teeth’ on doing domestic work. Coupled with a bathroom installation course next year I should have a good extensive skillset to take me forward in future ventures.

Please tell us about your training with Trade Skills 4U. What were your best bits, difficult bits, interesting bits?

The course was full of interesting content; made all the better by the course tutor who has such an extensive knowledge of the trade and all its intricacies. The mix of students was good also, with many varied backgrounds and different aspects they all brought to the course.

How would you describe the facilities and training at Trade Skills 4U?

In a word – excellent!

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

I would say don’t even hesitate! Get online or ring Trade Skills 4U and get enrolled…do it now!!

What are you planning on doing in the future?

In the future I would like to set up my own property maintenance business serving my local villages and towns, and enjoy every challenging job that comes my way!

I also intend to use my ELC’s coupled with my resettlement entitlement next year to do further courses and am interested in taking the Solar PV course with Trade Skills 4U.

Finally, do you have any advice for others wanting to train as an electrician?

Have lots of Post-its! Be willing to listen and apply what you’re shown but don’t ever be afraid to ask.


We would like to thank Sean for sharing his training experience with us and wish him the very best of luck in his future ventures.

If you are interested in an electrical training course, please visit our Course Finder page.

Categories: case study, retraining, raf, enhanced learning credits, elc

Funny tradesman number plates

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 6th September 2017

Electrician funny number plates

Whilst driving to work this morning one of our work colleagues spotted a Plasterer's van with a number plate that made him giggle, so we thought we would see how many funny tradesman number plates we could find on-line! 

I actually struggled to find funny ‘sparky’ related plates, so have thrown in a few from other professions that I found amusing. 

So here they are, I hope they make you laugh too! There were quite a few naughty ones that I didn’t feel were appropriate to share, so I will leave it up to you to find these, if you’re interested!


I was surprised that I could only find two electrical trade related number plates, but as you can see from the header image above there are plenty out there to buy!

Electrical funny number plates

Drain Services

The drain guys seem to have the funniest and most creative!

funny number plates drains


Plumbers seem to have a greater variety of words to work with!

funny number plates plumber

Pimlico Plumbers have really taken this seriously!

funny number plates - plumbers

Pest Control

I wonder if this guy has bulging eyes!

funny number plate pest control

A few random ones!

random funny number platesfunny number plates 1

If you are interested in buying a personalised number plate, there are lots of websites to choose from. Here are a couple to get you started Nationalnumbers,  and Plates4less

Also, if you see any more on your travels please send them in and we will publish them online. Happy hunting and I look forward to seeing a few more ‘sparky’ plates out there soon!

Categories: personalised number plates, funny tradesman number plates

Trade Skills 4U Secure Investment from Ethical Fund

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 31st August 2017

Trade Skills 4U

We are delighted to announce that Trade Skills 4U have won investment from a fund set up to specifically target companies who can make a positive social and environmental impact.

Palatine Private Equity, an investment group, recently set up an impact fund as a vehicle to assist the growth of companies that can make a positive difference whilst providing return on their investment. They were attracted to us due to our involvement in helping people retrain or upskill in the growing electrical and renewable energy industries. The investment further highlights our commitment to providing first class training in the electrical sector for both experienced and new electricians.

Customer Service

Our customers can be assured that they will continue to see the same high standards of customer service delivered by our existing management team. The investment from Palatine’s Impact Fund will enable us to further improve our offering in particular by opening further centres across the UK.

Because we are passionate about what we do, we want to ensure that we continue to offer all our students the same high standards of training that have become our trademark over the past years. By expanding our business we will be in a stronger position to offer our students the opportunity to learn at a centre convenient to them. Of course, all new sites will have the same state of the art training facilities with superb learning environments taught by first rate instructors, who have many years of specialist experience in this field.

Responsible investing


Carl Bennett, Executive Chairman of Trade Skills 4U said: “Trade Skills 4U provides exceptional training for adults who are looking to develop their skills in an environment tailored to their needs.

The business has grown recently with the opening of a new centre in Warrington in 2016, and with Palatine’s support we are looking forward to increasing our presence across the country and increasing our social impact. Palatine have an exceptional track record of supporting companies like Trade Skills 4U with their expansion plans. We have found a unique partner in Palatine given their enviable track record in responsible investing and the recent close of their Impact fund. They have demonstrated that they share our passion and values that support our distinctive proposition in the electrical training sector, and are fully aligned with us in delivering a positive social impact and supporting our continued growth.”

The investment was led by Partners Beth Houghton and Zoe Clements, with support from Matthew Coles, Investment Manager.

Beth Houghton, Head of Impact Fund at Palatine Private Equity, said: “We are delighted to support the management team of Trade Skills 4U with their exciting and impactful expansion plans, and look forward to working with them to build on their success to date and explore a number of growth opportunities.

“Trade Skills 4U typifies the type of company that we are looking to invest in through our new Impact Fund. Namely a growing business with a strong and passionate management team, that looks to make a positive and meaningful social impact.”






Why choose us

We’ve already helped thousands of people gain the knowledge, expertise and qualifications to develop successful careers in the electrical and renewable energy industry, and look forward to having the opportunity to help you too.

To keep up-to-date with future developments please make sure you check our blog posts going forward. In the meantime, if you are interested in an electrical training course, please visit our course-finder page or call a course advisor on 01293 529777.


Categories: ethical investment fund, palatine private equity

Giovanni Asiedu - Case Study

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 23rd August 2017

Giovanni Asiedu

Name: Giovanni Asiedu

Courses taken: City and Guilds 2365 level 2 and 3 full diploma, City & Guilds 2393 Part P

Outcome: Working in industry

We caught up with Giovanni Asiedu, following his training with Trade Skills 4U to find out how he was getting on, and are delighted to hear that he was able to start work sub-contracting and working on commercial sites just one week after completing his course and is now working his way towards being a fully qualified electrician.

What did you do before your electrical training?

Before training to become an electrician, I worked in retail for many years. After a while it felt like I was going nowhere and I wasn’t doing anything to develop myself.

Why did you decide to train as an electrician?

I didn’t want to continue working in a job where I became comfortable in an environment that didn’t challenge me, so I started looking for work that was more technical. I wanted to do something that tested my abilities, and decided to go for a complete career change. I have always wanted to learn a trade and to have the ability and knowledge to physically carry out a skill, no matter the situation I was in, or where in the world I went.

Why did you decide to take the C&G 2356 L2 & 3?

I had no previous experience, skills or qualifications to get started in the electrical trade, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities available to gain the work experience I needed.

I thought it would be a struggle to get on the job training at an entry level and most places that offered apprenticeships had age restrictions, and to even start as an electricians mate I would need some foundation of theory, practical knowledge or experience.

I knew I had to start from the very beginning, so I looked online for courses that could help me get up and running. It wasn’t long before I was directed to the Trade Skills 4U website. The site had a clear explanation of what the C&G 2365 Level 2 & 3 was, in comparison to the other electrical courses offered. It stated it would be the best course for a beginner looking to get into the electrical trade, and on completing the course I would be employable.

And that’s exactly what I was able to do. I completed my Level 2 & 3 and had the qualifications to apply for work and start working as an electrician the next week.

What are your plans now?

Having completed the C&G 2365 course I set out to continue learning and adding to the knowledge and experience I had gained, and applying all of this to my current working environment in order to work towards an NVQ and AM2 as soon as possible.

What was your training experience like with Trade Skills 4U?

For me, learning the theory from scratch was one of the most difficult parts of the course. However, I had an amazing teacher, who was so patient and determined and taught me to understand so that I found a way to make it stick.

I went from not having a clue the first few times I heard a subject, to passing all my exams with merits or distinctions the first time, and later on in the course even being able to attempt and then complete detailed coursework at home.

What is the best experience you have had so far in your new career?

Since gaining my qualifications I have been sub-contracting and working on commercial sites; including new builds and refurbishments of schools.

At first I was nervous, and work seemed daunting outside of the Trade Skills 4U centre, however taking on everything I learnt and working alongside experienced electricians I have been able to put together my new-found knowledge and practical experience in many challenging situations.

Since then, I have been confident and capable enough to work alone and complete 1st and 2nd fix work in large areas and rooms of schools.

How would you describe the facilities and training at Trade Skills 4U?

The facilities at the Crawley Centre offered specific working areas that allowed me to gain vital practical experience that helped me understand what it would be like working in the electrical trade. From working at heights setting up towers to putting up a fuse board and wiring circuits in steel conduit, and even testing 3 phase boards and fault finding on different rigs. All of this mixed in with intense theory lessons helped me reach the level of understanding I have, and use today.

Finally, do you have any advice for others wanting to train as an electrician?

I was very lucky to have been part of a great class and to have had a dedicated and patient teacher. There was a range of experience and learning levels, some had years of experience and others, like myself, had none. My best advice would be to take in as much as you can during your time training as you can learn a lot from what different people and their experiences can bring to the time shared. And of course you have an experienced and well informed group of teachers, who themselves have their own experiences you can learn from. You don’t want to regret not asking those around you for help with how or what helped them already.

It’s because of the people and teachers I met during my time training that I was able to gain such an understanding of what it is to be, and work as an electrician before I even started as one. It is these tips and lessons I have learnt that I will keep with me going forward in my new career.


We would like to thank Giovanni for sharing his story and offering his words of advice to anyone thinking of becoming an electrician. We wish Giovanni the very best of luck for the future and hope he continues to have a successful career as an electrician.

If you are interested in an electrical training course, please visit our Course Finder page.

Categories: qualifications, case study, employment, electrician

Upgrading our energy system and battery technology announcements

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 9th August 2017

The government recently unveiled plans for a more flexible energy system and £246m of funding for battery research. This will have a major impact on the way we generate and consume electricity, manage our electricity networks and use transport. The government’s aim is to ensure that a smarter grid will help keep energy bills low for consumers.

Upgrading our energy system

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem have recently set out plans to upgrade our energy systems by putting consumers in control. The plan will deliver a smarter more flexible energy system by removing barriers to smart technology, reducing costs for consumers giving households and businesses greater control over their energy use.

The ‘Upgrading our energy system report’ explains how the UK energy system is changing and how it can ensure economic benefits for households and businesses. Currently over a quarter of the UK’s electricity is being generated through renewable energy such as solar and wind with most of it located close to our homes and businesses.

New technologies that help store and manage energy are emerging and these changes will provide a great opportunity to create new jobs and business opportunities.

New smart technologies like smart meters and appliances that can be controlled by your mobile phone, together with other improvements to manage the energy system will help the country save up to £40bn on the UK’s energy costs over decades to come.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “Upgrading our energy system to make sure it is fit for the future is a key part of our Industrial Strategy. A smarter energy system will create opportunities to reduce energy costs, increase productivity and put UK businesses in a leading position to export smart energy technology and services to the rest of the world".

Investments in battery technology

With the growing popularity of electric cars it is estimated that 50% of vehicles produced by 2030 will be either electric or plug-in hybrid electric and it is likely that future generations will be using vehicles with batteries as their primary source of energy.

The Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, recently announced that the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will invest £246 million into battery technology. This investment will go towards ensuring that the UK leads the way in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries and is likely to have particular benefits in the automotive sector and renewable energy.

Known as the ‘Faraday Challenge’ this 4-year investment will form part of the governments Industrial Strategy to deliver a co-ordinated programme of competitions that aims to boost both the research and development of expertise in battery technology.

These competitions will be divided into 3 streams; research, innovation and scale-up, all designed to drive the UK’s world-leading research into market-ready technology to ensure economic success for the UK. An overarching Faraday Challenge Advisory Board will be established to oversee the challenge, chaired by Professor Richard Parry-Jones, a senior engineering leader.

The three competition streams are:

Research: To support world class research and training in battery materials, technologies and manufacturing processes, the Government has opened a £45m competition, led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a virtual Battery Institute. The successful consortium of universities will be responsible for undertaking research looking to address the key industrial challenges in this area.

Innovation: The most promising research completed by the Institute will be moved closer to the market through collaborative research and development competitions, led by Innovate UK. The initial competitions will build on the best of current world-leading science already happening in the UK and helping make the technology more accessible for UK businesses.

Scale-up: To further develop the real-world use and application of battery technology the Government has opened a competition, led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, to identify the best proposition for a new state-of-the-art open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.

Electric Vehicle Charging Point

With the recent announcement banning the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in the UK from 2040 amid concerns that rising levels of nitrogen oxide pose a major risk to public health, the government has made a commitment to a clean air plan, which they say is needed because of the unnecessary and avoidable impact that poor air quality is having on people’s health. It is said that the air pollution outside and inside the home causes at least 40,000 premature deaths a year.

The recent Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will allow the Government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers. This is great news for electric vehicle owners as many more garages across the UK will have to provide forecourt charging facilities.

This in turn, is great news for electricians, as it will allow them to train as an electric vehicle charging point installer offering them an additional income stream.

If you are interested in becoming an Electric Vehicle Charging Point Installer, Trade Skills 4U offers the C&G 2919-01 Electric Car/Vehicle Charging Point Installer Course, which can be booked on-line using our course page, alternatively if you would like to speak to a course adviser please call 01293 529777 or 0800 856448.

Categories: electric vehicles, battery technology, energy system, smart systems

Gate Safe Register Hits 1,000

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 2nd August 2017

August 2017: Nearly seven years since Gate Safe became the first organisation to initiate a campaign for improved standards in automated gate safety, the charity marked another important milestone, as it celebrated hitting 1,000 installers on its acclaimed national register of Gate Safe Aware Installers - which currently features 459 companies.

The training session at Trade Skills 4 U – the UK’s no 1 provider of electrical training which regularly hosts Gate Safe Aware training – was attended by 17 delegates, including 4 from Acctive Systems, signifying 1,000 trained Gate Safe Aware installers in the UK.

In recognition of this important anniversary, Acctive Systems was provided with a year’s supply of Gate Safe MOT stickers, Gate Safe Aware van stickers and high-vis Gate Safe Aware Installer vests.

Richard Jackson, founder of Gate Safe commented, “When we first launched our IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety & Health) accredited training programme, our intention was always to establish a national register of installers who had undergone the necessary training to enable them to understand the requirements to deliver a safe and compliant automated gate.  The training has been especially developed with the installer in mind, the course is easy to understand and not over-complicated by technical jargon; it has a strong practical emphasis and does not put too much pressure on the smaller company, both in terms of financial outlay and time spent out of the business.  With such a broad (and consistently growing) spread of installers across the UK, the Gate Safe brand continues to grow both in terms of stature (Gate Safe has been commended by the HSE, is officially supported by 12 credible opinion former bodies and is the leading authority on automated gate safety) and reach.”

If you would like to find out more about this course please click here Electric Gate Safety Awareness Course

Categories: gate safe, gate safe installers

Do I need to join a domestic installer scheme?

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 2nd August 2017

This is a question we are often asked, however we believe before you make this decision you need to ask yourself what type of domestic electrical work you want to do once qualified and does that work require you to be part of a scheme.

To help you make a decision we have put together a summary of what a Domestic Installer Scheme is and how to become part of one.

What is a Domestic Installer Scheme

Domestic Installer schemes are designed to ensure that any electrical installations are carried out in accordance with the current Building Regulations.

Our advice is that once you have completed your electrical training and gained your qualifications, you will need to decide what type of domestic electrical work you will be undertaking, and decide whether it is financially viable for you to join a Government Approved Installer Scheme (sometimes known as Part P schemes).

Currently under Approved Document Part P electricians are permitted to do a lot of work without the need to notify Building Control, however, it is important to understand the type of jobs that require you to notify Building Control, these include;

Replacing new circuit board/consumer units

Installing a completely new circuit

Alteration or addition in special locations to an existing circuit (bathroom within zones)

If you decide that joining an approved installer scheme is right for you there are a few to choose from such as NICEIC, ELECSA and STROMA. However, it’s worth checking out what the scheme provider requirements are before you go ahead, as these are different for each provider.

Save money and time

You don’t have to join a scheme, but if you don’t you will need to notify building control every time to do work that is notifiable. This will mean more work as well as added costs (usually around £150 per job). That’s fine if you are not doing very much notifiable work but if you do more than 3 notifiable jobs per year it often makes financial sense to join a scheme, plus there is a host of other benefits such as support, using their logo on your marketing materials and a huge time saving too.

If you want to secure your own private business, or work as a sub-contractor you will need to be able to sign off your own work. By joining an approved installer scheme you will be able to sign off notifiable work and certify that it meets current regulations. This means that you won’t have to contact Building Control directly each time you complete a notifiable piece of work, or be supervised by another electrician to sign off your work. This can only be good news for you, as you will not only save time waiting for building control to turn up, but you will also save money that you would have had to pay out to another electrician.








Customer confidence

By belonging to a Part P scheme you/your business will be added to a central electrician’s register. This will mean that local customers will be able to find you with confidence that you are working to the current Building and Wiring Regulations and safety standards for domestic dwellings.

How much will it cost to join?

The annual membership fees for Domestic Installers vary by scheme providers and range from £240 to £445 + VAT (with discounts available for payment by annual DD). The fee usually includes one year’s membership, an initial on-line assessment plus the cost of an on-site practical assessment. The assessment is designed to ensure that you are a competent person and typically the type of on-site assessment will include two new circuits or work that has been carried out in the last 12 months.

Save £50 with NICEIC and ELECSA

When you train with us not only do you benefit from the exceptional training and state-of-the-art facilities, you will also benefit from a £50 discount when you join either the NICEIC or ELECSA (both part of Certsure) domestic installer schemes.

If you are interested in training as an domestic electrical installer we have a number of courses available to choose from. Please visit our course finder page to find out more.

Categories: niceic, elecsa, domestic installer scheme, stroma

Electric Vehicles 2017 - The future of motor travel is here!

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 27th July 2017

Tesla Model X

With the ever growing popularity of electric vehicles in the UK there are now more than 100,000 plug-in cars on our roads compared with 3,500 in 2013. With more choice than ever before the UK electric car market is booming, which is no wonder as eco friendly cars are more economical, smoother to drive, see lower tax and maintenance costs and are much quieter than their conventional diesel/petrol counterparts.

Traditional EV’s are the perfect choice for those who have short commutes, and are popular for those that live in cities. However, as technology moves forward we are seeing the emergence of vehicles such as the new Tesla which include models that have a range of 300 miles on one charge. This alongside prices becoming more affordable, the benefits of owning an EV outweigh the initial cost by providing a greater reward of lower running costs and a cleaner environment.

Helping the Environment

For those that are concerned about the effects on the environment, purchasing an electric vehicle will help reduce the pollution rates produced by diesel/petrol-fuelled equivalents. We are now seeing a change in the buying patterns of more environmentally conscious purchasers who are ditching their polluting vehicles for EVs in the hope that this help to clean up our cities.

Carl Bennett, Managing Director at Trade Skills 4U, has been thinking about changing his car for a while now, and being an environmentally conscious person himself, has decided to take the plunge and invest in a new Tesla.

Tesla X model

We caught up with Carl to ask what his reasons were for buying an Electric Vehicle:

What made you choose a Tesla? Initially to help control my personal pollution output for future generations, also as Managing Director of an innovative electrical training company I like to promote electrical innovations such as this. Elon Musk, co-founder, CEO and Product Architect at Tesla describes people buying Tesla’s as 'Early Adopters’, and are being rewarded by receiving free charging for the life of the car. It’s clearly the future, and I believe that the Tesla supercharging system is the best available, with charging points all over the UK and growing.

What model did you choose and why? I’ve chosen the Tesla X. It’s an SUV type with 6 seats, which also has plenty of storage space, which when travelling between our facilities around the UK is useful, especially if I’m asked to carry materials and all manner of equipment. Plus the front has a handy space for my golf clubs!

Tesla back

What attracted you to this car? With an extended range of 300 miles, it enables me to travel between Birchwood and Gatwick on a usual overnight home charge, then I’ll charge it again at Gatwick for the journey back home to Warrington. Plus it looks great! Less sporty than the previous Tesla models which suits me as I don’t do sporty!

What are the benefits of owning an EV? Not having to fuel-up on a smelly cold raining garage forecourt on a February morning really appeals to me. Essentially with the home charger I have a fuelling station on my own drive. It’s so easy, I plug it in at night, I wake up and its fully charged with 300 plus miles, ready to take me anywhere, and obviously, the costs of petrol v electrical charging.

What is the driving experience like? Superb, I’ve test driven a few Tesla’s now. The drive is smooth, quiet, not silent and instantly responsive. I’ve also used the auto pilot which is scary but brilliant and statistically safer than human control. However, other than maybe sitting in slow moving M25 traffic, I have no doubt that I’ll use it fully when regulation allows it.

Tesla Seats

What are the best features? The technology, the huge computer screen in the dash contains all sorts of goodies, including a huge Google map, a web browser, rear facing HD camera, plus the interior cabin is like a spacecraft, and gorgeous.

How do you intend to use the car? Commuting between our facilities around the UK, especially so as we expand further. Plus the usual short journey errands, oh and to Rugby League matches along the M62.

How will you charge your vehicle? I’m currently having a charger installed at my house, but I’ve also applied for TradeSkills4U to be a Tesla destination location. The charger bays will be installed at our Gatwick and Birchwood centres in August, which will be free-of-charge for anyone to use, even none customers.

What do you think about the Governments plans for electric vehicles? With the ever increasing news about banning new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, there will be a greater need for Electrical Car Charging installers in the UK, which will give electrical installers the opportunity to generate an additional income stream. As the UK’s premier specialist electrical training provider my aim is to increase our Electric Car / Vehicle Charging Point Installation training to become the biggest in the UK.

What Car? Top 10 electric cars

Below we've shared with you the What Car? count down of their favourite EVs and look ahead to the models you'll be able to buy soon.

10. Volkswagen e-Up

Volkswagen e-Up

The regular Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite city cars, and this electric version is just as practical and good to drive; it feels almost entirely uncompromised by its conversion to electric power. It's just that unfortunately, it costs twice as much as the petrol models. 

9. Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

One of the more affordable electric models on sale, the Leaf is about the same size as a Vauxhall Astra and similarly easy to drive. There are two battery options to choose from: a 24kWh that allows a theoretical range between charges of 124 miles, and a 30kWh that extends this to 155 miles. The latter is only available on the more expensive trim levels, though.

8. Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai

The Mirai is a hydrogen-fuelled car, which means that you'll need to fill it up with hydrogen at specially chosen filling stations, of which there are currently very few. It's powered by a single 152bhp electric motor and can travel for up to 400 miles between refills. We found it to be quiet and well controlled, but at around £66,000 it's certainly pricey, and with limited volumes coming to the UK it's likely to be a very rare sight.

7. Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV

The Soul EV is Kia's first attempt at an electric car, and is actually better to drive than the petrol model. For starters, it feels more eager, thanks to the instant torque from its electric motor. What's more, it's quiet and decent to drive. However, problems include a high price and an interior that feels rather cheap.

6. Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

On paper, Tesla's all-electric family SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the luxury of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even the entry-level 75D versions aren't short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.

5. Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai ioniq

The Ioniq is really three cars in one - it's available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we're including here has a range of 174 miles, and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.

4. Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf

Unlike purpose-built electric vehicles such as the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, the e-Golf is based on a conventional hatchback. However, this is no bad thing, because it means it has all the good points of the regular Golf, along with greatly reduced running costs.

3. BMW i3

BMW i3

A smart interior and great handling make the i3 one of the most appealing electric vehicles on sale today, while it's groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor. In addition to the fully electric model, BMW offers a Range Extender model with a two-cylinder petrol engine that can generate extra power for the car's batteries.

2. Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

The quiet and comfortable Model S saloon is as capable as it is desirable, offering staggering performance and an impressive range for an electric car. It’s practical, too, with seating for up to seven, while almost all of the car’s controls are accessed via a massive 17in touchscreen that's easy to personalise and updates wirelessly.

1. Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe

The Zoe’s main strength is that it feels like a conventional, stylish, nippy small car, and just happens to cost pennies to run. The electric motor has enough shove for the Zoe to lead the charge away from traffic lights, and the interior has room for four to sit in reasonable comfort. Even the boot is larger than you’ll find in many regular small cars; it's easily big enough for a family's weekly shopping.

Government incentive

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which is being introduced by the government, includes electric car charging points being installed at all large filling stations in Britain. This is great news for the EV owner, as many of the UK’s 8,500 garages will have to provide charging facilities on their forecourts. There are some great websites out there to help find vehicle charging points around the UK ie Ecotricity and Zapmap.

Government invests in battery technology

With the ongoing improvements in battery technology the EV’s range is now much less of an issue than ever before. This is being helped by the Governments announcement of a £246 million investment in battery technology which will undoubtedly help towards making the UK a world leader in battery technology.

Government plug-in grant

Car manufacturers and dealerships are being offered government grants to reduce the price you pay for brand new electric and hybrid vehicles. The Government Plug-in Car Grant can help you save as much as £4,500 on a selection of new environmentally friendly electric and plug-in hybrid cars which cost less than £60,000. To qualify, a new car must emit less than 75g/km of CO2 and be able to travel at least 10 miles in silent electric-only mode. Click here for a full list of cars currently eligible for the government plug-in car grant.

Training opportunity

Here at Trade Skills 4U we offer the C&G 2919-01 Electric Car / Vehicle Charging Point Installer course, which you can book on-line using our course page, alternatively if you would like to speak to a course adviser please call 01293 529777 or 0800 856448.

Categories: electric cars/vehicles, electric car/vehicle charging

Electrical lecturer ordained a deacon

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 20th July 2017

Andy Summers, an electrical lecturer/assessor at our Birchwood, Warrington site, has very kindly agreed to tell us his story of how his faith lead him to train as a deacon.

On the 1st July 2017 Bishop Mark Davies ordained Andy a new deacon for the Diocese of Shrewsbury during a Mass in Shrewsbury Cathedral. We are all very proud of Andy’s achievement and dedication to his faith and hope that you enjoy reading his story.

My story: The Reverend Andy Summers, Deacon.

In which parish are you involved?

St John Vianney in Northwich, Cheshire

What is your role?

My main role is to assist my parish priest Fr. Paul Standish during Mass where I can read the Gospel and give homilies (sermons) and distribute holy communion. My role also allows me to conduct baptisms, weddings and funerals and in fact only last Sunday I baptised two babies and am looking forward to conducting my first wedding service in September.

Why did you choose to be ordained?

I felt I could be of more service to the people of the parish as an ordained minister and take a more active role, for example, only a priest or deacon can read and then teach on the Gospel readings each week and this was an area where I felt I could contribute.

How and when did you know you were called to ministry?

I had become a member of the Catholic Church in 1985 after receiving my faith and spent several years travelling throughout Britain and Europe sharing my faith in schools and parishes using music and drama to bring the message of the Gospel in a way which was relevant to young people. I’d been a professional musician, I’m a drummer, and toured at home and abroad and was able to use that gift as a means of service for the Church. After meeting my wife Helen, I settled down and have spent the last few years bringing up a family, re-training as an electrician and then as a teacher and it was only when my daughter Elizabeth had become a teenager that I felt the call to train to become a deacon.

Drummer to Deacon

How would you describe your experience of being ordained?

Very humbling! The word deacon comes from the Greek word ‘Diakonia’ which means ‘to serve’. So I’m very aware of the responsibility that I now carry to be of service to everyone. The ordination ceremony was very special, a lot of my work colleagues were there to support me as well as family and friends.

What's the best thing about your entering the ministry?

The best thing about entering the ministry is to be of service to people, to proclaim and teach the Gospel and to be able to live out my faith in a way that benefits others.

What's the most challenging aspect of your role?

Making sure I get it right! There’s a lot of organisation involved in baptisms and weddings and I feel a little like a learner driver at the moment. I’m sure it’ll be alright. I would like people to feel that they could approach me. A deacon is usually a married man, so maybe people would feel they could talk to a deacon rather than to a priest in certain matters; that could be pretty challenging!

What has been the reaction of your family and work colleagues?

My daughter was horrified at the thought of me becoming a deacon five years ago, but now thinks it’s quite cool! My wife has been very supportive and so have my work colleagues both past and present, many were at the ordination along with my line manager Mike and his family. I’ve received a lot of good wishes from everyone at TS4U, my colleagues affectionally referring to me now as ‘The Rev!’.

Drummer to Deacon 2

What would your advice be for someone wanting to become a minister?

That’s a difficult one but I believe it is a call so it’s about being open and honest in your life to know where God is calling you personally. I received my faith over thirty years ago but it’s only been in the last five years that I’ve felt called to become a minister. You’ve just got to be open and follow your heart.

What is your current job role and how does this fit in with being a deacon?

I’m a lecturer/assessor at TS4U in Birchwood, Warrington. deacons unlike priests, don’t get paid so it’s a labour of love, so I’ll be fitting the duties around my job which means evenings and weekends will be the times I’ll be able to fully exercise the ministry.


We wish Andy (The Rev) the very best of luck in his new role and look forward to hearing how he gets on conducting his first wedding service in September.

A funny quote I found by Cardinal Richard Cushing was: The bishops will govern the Church, the priests will do all the work and the deacons will have all the fun.

Categories: deacon, ordainment