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Warrington Wolves Say Farewell to Chloe

Posted by Carl Bennett on 28th April 2016

Chloe Bennett  was a former employee of Trade Skills 4U until she left us to join the Rugby League World Cup marketing team almost 4 years ago. You will find on this blog numerous articles written by her and she was a crucial member of the Trade Skills 4U team for a number of years. For the last 2 ½ years she has worked as Marketing Head at Warrington Wolves  where she has dedicated herself to leading the amazing changes off the pitch under the administration of the more publicly known Roger Draper.

Many of you wouldn’t have heard of her, but she’s been integral to the recent impressive changes under tough and challenging conditions, especially entering the organisation as a young woman from London and has done her job with modesty, a smile and a big heart, as anyone who knows her will testify.

The Wigan game today will be her last home game as part of the Wolves family, after which she takes up her new role with none other than Manchester Utd Football Club.

She’ll be missed both personally and professionally, but hopefully all the things she has put into place, particularly the Membership Scheme and Fan & Community engagement initiatives will continue to improve and develop.

Rugby league’s loss is football’s gain but I’ve no doubt as a third generation Wolves supporter and of Rugby league, she will return to our game and with her knowledge and experience gained at the global company that is Man U, will ensure our great game will continue to be the ‘best sport in the world’.

Well Done Chloe X


Categories: warrington wolves

A Clear Route To Industry? Domestic Electrician Apprenticeships - Opinions Please

Posted by Carl Bennett on 13th May 2015

electrician working

Read this blog and give us your opinion to be entered into our win a van competition!

We have many conversations with our thousands of contractor customers when they are here with us attending career development courses. The conversations are generally around the inability of the small contracting company (5 or less employees) being able to support an adult apprenticeship programme.  They tell us they can’t support an adult apprentice for three simple reasons:

Lengthy training programme.

High cost of training and employing  an adult apprentice.

Lack of the range of work required as evidence for the NVQ. (A Particular problem for those working in the domestic sector)

You will notice in the above list, that we are talking about adults, i.e. aged 19 plus, but more likely to be 24 plus. The most commonly offered solution by these contractors,is that the industry needs to offer a career solution that accurately reflects the workplace in 2015, a one size fits all NVQ isn’t what the small employer needs.

A 3-4 year apprenticeship of drip feed training and onsite experience is certainly appropriate for a 16-19 year old, where the general lessons of working life must also be factored into the training of an apprentice.

However for an adult wanting to join the industry, and increasingly many do, the inflexibility of the standard NVQ leads to those people seeking other routes into the industry which often leads to short cuts being taken. We all know that this is not a satisfactory solution when training the future workforce of what is, after all, a vital industry to this country.

Many contractors tell us that if the apprenticeship programme was broken down into bite size chunks, it would make it more cost effective and relevant to employers and employees alike.

The Solution - Stepping Stone Qualifications

The natural bite size chunks to us are obvious. Electricians offer their services generally into three sectors. Domestic, Industrial, Commercial. You’ll see it on the side of virtually every contractors van.

It’s our opinion, as evidenced from our customer’s comments that the NVQ should be broken down likewise. So we would suggest that the training programmes offer an NVQ for a Domestic Electrician, then perhaps if needed, progression to the full electricians to NVQ subject areas specifically covering the Commercial and Industrial sectors.

This proposal would give the flexibility to the small contractor to be able to support an adult apprentice programme, as inevitably it would be shorter (perhaps a year), and the programme would be more relevant to the actual work they do on a day-to-day basis. It is also more beneficial to the adult apprentice who could not commit to a 3-4 year apprenticeship on reduced wages.

Of course the current full NVQ would still be an option and is certainly appropriate for the young person entering the workplace for the first time, but this proposed approach with its greater flexibilitywould provide a much needed realistic training option for the small employer who frankly just wants to get on with the job, get their people trained as efficiently as they can and earn money.

Likewise if the units contained within the Technical Certificate equivalents that apply to domestic  electrical installations could be separated out and taught first, then there can be a simple and clear route into industry for all,with a clear starting point and several stopping off points.

All of this would allow new entrants the ability to qualify as a domestic electrician and then upskill to carry out commercial  and industrial installations at a later date if required.

It seems common sense to adopt this route and the industry has come close in recent times with the introduction of the “Level 3 Certificate In Installing, Testing & Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings” qualification. However the problem with this is that you still need to transfer into one of the main courses listed above to qualify as electricians. It would make more sense if everyone studying to be an electrician studied key subjects relating to domestic installations first and then had a choice on whether or not to continue studying or to start work as a domestic electrician. This would lead to much greater harmony and much less confusion both amongst the public and out there in the workplace.

So with that in mind we have decided to undertake a formal consultation process and present our findings to industry andto offer this as a training solution thus perhaps ending the years of fudge that has plagued the domestic sector.

We need your input!

There is still a long way to go, but we believe with your input we can improve this situation for the better. We are looking at this in partnership with Summit Skills and want to hear your thoughts on this. We would love to hear from anyone that has an opinion and you can express your opinions simply by completing the form below. We hope you can help positively and work with us to improve our industry

You will also be entered into our win a van competition if you complete the form below by the 31st May 2015:

If you have any trouble with the above form you can visit: http://form.jotformeu.com/form/51304411575346

We hope you can help positively.


DCLG Select Committee Report Published

Posted by Carl Bennett on 6th March 2014

The CLG select committee report into Part P ‘Building Regulations certification of Domestic electrical work ‘is published today.

It recognised that the introduction of Part P building regulations in 2005 had been successful in driving up standards of installation to the extent that around 40,000 competent electrical installers are now within the available schemes.

It was also recognised that there has been a positive change of attitude particularly by self employed domestic electrical installers and as a consequence knowledge and skills levels are now much higher than they were 10 years ago.

Pictured Above: Carl Bennett MD with Clive Betts MP

Over the last 8 years Tradeskills4U as has played a significant part in the raising of those skills levels for the benefit of the electrical workforce and public safety and we are justly proud of our efforts.

However we know, as a leading electrical training provider to the industry and this is where we agree with the report, that there is room for improvement, particularly with regard to the qualifications a Domestic Electrician should be required to hold to give confidence to the public.

There are a number of recommendations in the report, which the government may or may not adopt. Unfortunately one of the problems with the committee's report, is that we and others in the industry didn’t think they consulted widely enough. For instance they didn’t consult with any of those in the domestic installer or associated trades sector to which this report is directed and employs tens of thousands of people, nor did it seek ideas for training solutions other than the traditional viewpoint and was too ready to accept a narrow view.

The report now goes forward to the government for consultation and review before April 2015, recommending that the qualification of a Domestic Electrician should be equivalent to a Level 3 NVQ. Whilst we agree that a Level 3 qualification and a period of ‘on site’ training is important, we think the qualification should be appropriate to the work the Domestic Electrician carries out, bearing in mind that most of them will be self employed, so in line with the spirit of the report we support a specific Domestic Electrician Level 3 Qualification with an element of on the job training.

The report also goes on to recommend some improvement in public awareness of Part P and a restriction on the number of jobs a Qualified Supervisor can supervise in a year, both of which recommendations we also support.

So what happens next?

Well, this report goes to the Minister Eric Pickles, he will then consult and review sometime before April 2015 and if the recommendations are fully adopted the industry has a target date of 5 years to make the changes.

So for now it’s with the politicians for more consultations. Lets see what they come up with in their wisdom.


Get Involved in Trailblazing Consultations of the Electrotechnical Apprenticeship

Posted by Carl Bennett on 31st January 2014

The IET and Summit Skills have just published a survey online asking for feedback and input on changes to the Electrotechnical Apprenticeship framework. You may or may not be aware that all apprenticeships are being reviewed as part of the new Trailblazers project. A trailblazer will essentially set the industry standard for that industry and a handful of industries have been selected as a first round including Electrotechnical and Energy & Utilities.

There are also a number of organisations heavily involved in these projects so for the Electrotechnical project companies such as Balfour Beatty, Barlows Electrical, Daly Limited, Darke & Taylor Ltd, The IET & The JIB are all involved. This review is great for the industry and the input of these organisation is invaluable as they are clearly very influential members of it. But what about the voices of the smaller contractor many of whom are employed by the companies listed above. Is their voice really being heard?

The survey does give almost anyone a chance to have their say, however we have only just found out about this survey and the closing date is actually the 3rd February 2014. That doesn’t give us or anyone else in the industry much time to get involved.

We would hope that the process of gathering responses to this survey could be extended whilst more people in the industry have a chance to contribute. We feel it is great that standards are being reviewed and updated, however if they are going to be reviewed we need to ensure the process is not rushed and that the smaller micro businesses get to input their thoughts, opinions and suggestions.

I have just taken the survey and whilst it asks some meaningful questions one key element appears to be missing. The survey doesn’t ask who I am, what I do and why my opinion is relevant. It simply asks if I am an employer or not. This is because apprenticeships are considered to be only relevant for employers and anyone else’s opinion does not matter.

This is possibly one of the most important aspects of the apprenticeship that needs to be addressed. Its content and structure is geared towards the minority of electricians who are employed by a large company. In fact most large companies employ more electrical sub contractors than they do full time electricians. It is the opinion of these people on the ground actually doing the work we feel needs to be included in this consultation. Yes they may not be employers but they are the ones doing the job day in and day out who fully understand what is required to work independently as an electrical contractor.

If you have the time and feel you can contribute please get involved and add your opinion. We simply wish there was more time to get this message out and gather more responses, maybe there will be following this blog post?

>>Click Here to take the survey<<


Categories: apprenticeships

Certsure Follow Up on Select Committee Meeting with Message to Members

Posted by Carl Bennett on 17th January 2014

On the 13th January Emma Clancy (the CEO of Certsure) published a message to their members updating them of developments following their appearance in front of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.  The message contained some points that are quite significant for those working in the industry and seem to be very positive indeed for all. The key points covered were as follows:

1. One Single Register for Part P Electricians

Ever since the Electrical Safety Register and ElectricSafe Register were launched many in the industry have been asking why we can’t have one single register that allows consumers to easily identify where they can access the details for qualified electricians in their area. Certsure have confirmed that all the major scheme providers will be working together on a proposal for a single mark similar to Gas Safe. This is a pretty major development and can only benefit the industry as a whole.

2. Short Courses

There were submissions to the committee with regards to short courses as a means to enter onto a scheme. Trade skills 4U were instrumental in supplying evidence to the Select committee in this area. Emma Clancy was very clear in her message confirming that anyone registering on scheme must be thoroughly assessed on site. This means that it is the skills and competence of the individual that are the key to gaining accreditation with a scheme provider. She went to confirm that for some that wish to change career, a relevant combination of short courses are an affordable and realistic way to gain a qualification leading to assessment for registration.

3. Licensing electricians

The select committee had heard evidence suggesting that scheme providers should licence individual electricians rather than companies in the same way that Gas Safe is run. This would essentially bring an end to the company qualified supervisor model that is currently in effect and placing the responsibility on the individual contractor. However the suggestion for this did not fully address the cost burden for this especially for those who employ numerous electricians.

Emma Clancy highlighted that the current qualified supervisor system has worked for many years and continues to do so. Essentially if it isn’t broken then why are we looking to fix it. The current system balances costs with safety and is the best model especially for companies. The current regulations and scheme structures more than cover individuals in terms of ensuring that those working on electrical systems are safe to do so and this is spelled out in regulation 16 of the electricity at work regulations act where is states:

“No person shall be engaged in any work activity where technical knowledge or experience is necessary to prevent danger or where appropriate injury unless he possess such knowledge or experience or is under such degree of supervisions as may be appropriate having regard to the nature of the work.”

What is interesting is to see scheme providers continuing to support the Qualified Supervisor Model when it would probably benefit them financially to register every individual. This shows that they truly have consumers and electricians best interests at heart.

As far as Trade Skills 4U is concerned we support what Emma Clancy has said and continue to support the individual as well as the small micro business company’s to ensure we supply the right advice and right training solutions to our customers. The advantage of Trade Skills 4U being involved in the debate is that our menu of courses and qualifications are always relevant and reflect the industry requirements.

Carl Bennett




Paul Wood "Jarrod Sammut & Matty Blythe The Ones to Watch"

Posted by Carl Bennett on 25th April 2013

Warrington Wolves will be at home for the first time in 4 weeks this Sunday. Looking ahead to this weekend's crunch clash against rivals Bradford Bulls Paul Wood has identified where he feels their strengths lie.

"They've been really impressive. I've watched them a few times on Sky this year. I think Francis Cummins has done a magnificent job there and it's good to see an English coach doing really well too. Especially with the troubles they had last year, I don't think people expected them to be in the position that they are in at the moment, sitting one point behind us. But credit to them they are playing really well as a team and are attacking really well so we need to be on the ball this week if we are going to put in a good performance against them.

"I think Jarrod Sammut has been a stand-out player for them; he'll try anything during a game you've got to really keep your eye on him. Then you've got Kearney at the back who's been playing really well - I think he's one of the leading try-scorers at the minute in Super League, he's scoring tries a lot. Matty Blythe when he's been playing for Bradford has been one of their performers - we've watched highlights and Matty's been involved in quite a lot of the plays, apparently he could be back playing against us this week so will be one to watch as well."

"It feels like forever since we played here last. Just looking out at the pitch it looks like it's done it some favours - it looks a lot firmer and a lot greener. Hopefully we'll have a nice sunny day, a firm pitch and a big crowd at the Halliwell Jones, and hopefully a good win."

Paul has been working really hard this season and took a well earned rest over the weekend where he watched the team play in the cup round from the sidelines. He was really impressed with the work the team put in and commented:

"It was a good performance. I was happy to see the two debutants, Glenn Riley and Danny Bridge, I thought they put in good performances and didn't look out of place whatsoever; they did really well. I thought we got a couple of issues right that we'd talked about through the week in terms of defending. Keighley attacked pretty well and threw a lot at us but we worked really hard in defence and got a few things sorted that we needed to which was pleasing but more importantly we got the win."

Moving forwards Warrignton Wolves are now looking to defend their Trophy and Paul believes his team have started the season well. 

"It's good to know we are the holders of it but it takes a lot of hard work to maintain it. We have done it before so we will be working really hard to do it again but we are looking one week at a time that's when we tend to be successful - when we look one week at a time and we don't look too far into the future. We've got a big game coming up against Salford at the Halliwell Jones which should be good. They are only 25 minutes down the road so it's a bit of a local derby for us. They've been a bit of bogey team for us over the years, they've always managed to turn us over when we've been expected to beat them but we have put some big scores in against them too so it should be an interesting game."

"We've started reasonably well. I think the expectations of Warrington, at the moment, are pretty high so a lot of people probably don't think we've done that well, but we've started okay. It tends to be this time of year that team's start gelling and start putting performances together. Once you get past that Easter period the league starts ironing itself out and you know which teams are going to be there or there about. Performance wise we are looking to kick on from here now and build some momentum hopefully."

As always we will be watching with baited breath and supporting Paul on Sunday. We are proud to sponsor such an impressive player.


Categories: paul wood, warrington wolves

Smart Meters, What's Happening?

Posted by Carl Bennett on 24th April 2013

Well, yesterday 23rd April 2013 rather than celebrate St Georges day as we like to do, I took one for the team and made my way to London to join the discussion at the Westminster Forum for Smart Meter rollout in Whitehall.

All the members of the power generation companies glitterati where in attendance. EDF. E.ON, British gas, BT, G4S, The DECC, Government Ministers, Lords, MP’s and many other interested parties including our humble selves. We were there to find out if the roll out of Smart meteres means work for our customers.

Here’s what we learned.

It’s definitely going ahead, its mandatory.

We are in the Foundation phase of the scheme, the mass roll out of installs happens in earnest from end 2014. ( By the way, earnest isn’t a place :- )

The target is 24 Million installs of meters to be done in a mass roll out by end of 2019.

That figure means its estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 installs need to be done a day!

They estimate the DECC (Dept Of Energy and Climate Change) that a single installer can complete 3.7 installs a day, and preferably this guy or girl would hopefully be qualified in Plumbing (Gas) and Electricity, and have some energy efficiency training and customer service skills.

There will be a single accreditation of a dual fuel diploma to undertake these installs.

E.ON have so far completed 200,000 installs and are the market leader in this initiative. The other DNO’s (Distribution Network Operators) are sure to follow in earnest (again not the place!)

Once in place the customer will be able to have real time control of their energy spending and quickly change providers for better deals. Also if there’s an interruption in service, the DNO would know before the customer and send updates via Apps. The scheme would be the best in the world and should help towards our energy efficiency and security.

Is there an opportunity for our customers to get involved? Yes we think so; we intend to get involved in the training of installers, watch this space, we’ll keep you updated!


Categories: smart meters

Are You Ready For Changes To Qualified Supervisor And New Part P Requirements?

Posted by Carl Bennett on 24th January 2013

For some time the industry has been looking at the qualifications and skills required to operate as a Registered Competent person, (now known as a Qualified Supervisor) to formalise with regulation those who might work with electrics in any capacity. After two years or more of deliberation they are set to change the qualification route and coincide with the changes to Building regulations on 6th April 2013.

Why The Change?

Well safety for one and raising standards for those involved in the installation of electrics is another, something that has been championed many times in this magazine.

Let’s face it, at the moment, anyone completely untrained or un qualified can go into an electrical supplier and grab anything off the shelf and install it with virtually no regulation check or legal consequence. Surely that situation can’t be right, not only is it potentially unsafe but it also undermines the electrical and related trade industries and makes it difficult for small contractor companies to compete with unregistered installers.

So the powers that be have got to grips with this issue and are bringing in a few important changes.

What are the most significant changes?

Well they’ve changed the status of some currently notifiable work to become non notifiable.

They’ve brought in ability for a Third party certifier to certificate another’s work.

They’ve raised the bar for the Qualified Supervisor requiring them to have a laid down set of qualifications and experience.

They’ve stated that anyone involved in the installation, inspection and testing of notifiable electrical work that would use the Building Control certification system, to be competent and qualified.

It enables long serving but unqualified ‘Sparkies’ a route to proper recognition of their experience to become Qualified Supervisors.

There are of course a number of other changes to building regulations in addition to the ones above but we think these are the most significant.

These changes represent a clear legal requirement for people to be qualified and competent, no matter how tenuous their involvement in electrical installation and gives realistic options for experienced operators and that must be a positive.

Couple that with the initiative of the Electrical Safety register and we are heading towards a voluntary upgrading of standards with an ambition of a fully perhaps mandatory licenced system in the future? Who knows .

The new changes reflect the diverse and developing nature of the many industries and trades that are involved in electrical installation work, whether you’re happy with the changes or not, they’ve been made, so we all must work within them, including training providers like Tradeskills4U. Smart businesses adapt, we will certainly have to.


The entrepreneurs amongst you will have noticed a few opportunities, like becoming a Third Party certifier or a Qualified Supervisor of other trades, certainly the electrical contractors that can offer the most services will prosper. Maybe a register of third party certifiers is a good idea?

So the clear message from the Electrical establishment is get properly qualified, register on a Competent persons scheme and an Electrical Safety Register. Only by encouraging those involved in electrical installations in whatever capacity, to do the right thing, can the electrical industry progress for the benefit of all.


Categories: qualified supervisor, part p

Paul Wood Presents Trade Skills 4U With His Shirt

Posted by Carl Bennett on 14th January 2013

Last year we were chuffed to get the opportunity to sponsor Rugby League hard man Paul Wood. As mad fans of the sport were had been waiting some time for the opportunity to sponsor Paul and finally got our chance at the end of last season. I have met Paul a number of times since then and it was great to catch up with him on Wednesday evening when he presented me with his shirt.

Paul who shot to fame for losing a testicle in the Rugby League Grand Final last October recently gave an interview about life after the incident and the impact it has had on his career.

Paul said that the physical injury itself was not too bad. What he really struggled with (like anyone who loves their sport) was the mental side of dealing with the injury. He found it particularly hard to miss out on training and sit on the side-lines while his team mates carried on as usual. Despite the fact he has been at the receiving end of more puns and jokes than ever before Paul also missed the banter with his team mates.

As a result of his unique injury and amazing ability to play on for 25 minutes with a ruptured testicle Paul has shot to national and international fame. He has even been asked to appear on TV and radio shows in America. This is all very positive and helps promote the sport amongst a much wider audience.

We hope to continue to support Paul for many years to come and he has confirmed that he intends to carry on playing for Wolves for the next 2 years at least until he reaches 33 years old. This is great news for us and for Wolves as he has been in excellent form over the last year.

You can view the full video interview with Paul Wood below:




Categories: paul wood, warrington wolves

Electrical Safety Register. Great news for the industry!

Posted by Carl Bennett on 19th November 2012

The Electrical Safety Register is finally here. It is a voluntary licensing system for electricians and a first step in the right direction.

At last the electrical industry is starting to get itself organised and probably not before time we hear you say, considering all the recent discussions on various forums and talk boards. 

A licensed system for electricians along the lines of what Gas safe is for gas engineers is something we have supported and in fact championed. The idea seems to carry favour with many Sparkies with whom we talk. An electrical safety register is a licencing system in all but name and is voluntary, which may not be what everyone wants but is certainly better than what we have at the moment.

Of course during times of austerity good businesses get better and focus on the important issues that concern them and this appears to be what has happened with the electrical industry. Something positive is being done and must be welcomed.  With big announcements from the big 3 in the industry the NICEIC, ELECSA and the ECA  this morning regarding their Electrical safety register, essentially a voluntary rather than mandatory licensing system is a first step but one that would be welcomed I assume, given the poll vote on the ECA Linked in discussion group forum.

As far as Tradeskills4U is concerned, anything that helps hard working men and women support their families is good with us and this initiative looks to do just that.

If you want to know for visit the NICEIC website: http://www.niceic.com/Contractor/Electrical-Safety-Register

Or check out the youtube video below:



Categories: electrical safety register