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Forgotten Heroes Bursary Case Study: Ian Lockie

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 29th July 2011

Case Study – Ian Lockie

Role – RAF Regiment Gunner

Forgotten Heroes Bursary Candidate 1

Course Taken – 22 Day Green Solar PV Installer

Served: Iraq, Northern Ireland, Germany and Bosnia.

In 1998 following  9 years’ service as an RAF Regiment Gunner Ian Lockie, like many others, left the army in search of a new challenge. This new challenge wasn’t without limitations after Ian, a PTSD sufferer, found there was a lack of career prospects available to him. He later found work as a satellite engineer and then as a bus driver but was made redundant in January of this year.

Since his redundancy, Ian has struggled to find work and like many during these current times, realised he needed to re-train to get back into employment. However, the dilemma was what to train in and how to fund the training?

“Having spent my working life on my feet, I didn’t warm to the idea of being in an office situation. I’ve always preferred hands on work and was keen to seek training in this sort of area. When my wife showed me an article of Trade Skills 4U’s Forgotten Heroes bursary in The Sun newspaper, I knew I had to apply!”

The scheme, titled ‘The Forgotten Heroes Bursary Scheme,’ aims to giveaway £100,000 free training to ex-service personnel who are struggling to find employment due to injury, illness or a lack of support. This permanent offer is to arm our heroes with practical qualifications in both electrical and renewable industries to enable them to carve a new career path on Civvy Street.

Shortly after applying, Ian was awarded a place at the companies open day in June by Falkland’s Hero, Simon Weston O.B.E and chose to complete the Solar PV Installer’s GREEN Package; a 22 day package that enables a new entrant into the industry to train as a domestic and solar PV installer. 

This package includes:

 a TS4U exclusive MOD 1 course, 

City & Guilds Inspection & Testing 2392-10

City & Guilds Part P Domestic installers course,

City & Guilds 17th Edition (2382-10) and the

BPEC Solar Panel Installation which includes a health and safety module.

After a successful four weeks of training, Ian, who completed the GREEN package on 29th July, said “Trade Skills 4U have been great and I am very thankful for this opportunity. It was hard studying again as I haven’t been in this situation for more than 20 years, but I have been taught by some fantastic tutors, who have spurred me on from the start and made the learning as enjoyable as possible.”

Ian trained in both TS4U electrical and renewable energy centres and particularly enjoyed the 5 day BPEC Solar PV installation course. “Training on your solar PV training roof has to be the ultimate highlight of the course, I absolutely loved it. I’ve really enjoyed getting up there with the guys in all the workshops too and I have to say I’ve made some great friends. I’ve just finished the course now, and I’m buzzing! I can only look forward to future now, as I have a new career path to discover.”

If you are interested in applying for Trade Skills 4U’s Forgotten Hero Bursary please check out http://www.tradeskills4u.co.uk/pages/free-training .

We have recently partnered with The British Legion to help provide access to funding for those candidates that may struggle financially whilst they train with us. To find out if the scheme is for you, how it works and if you are eligible to apply follow this link to the Civvy street website.

Categories: forgotten heroes bursary scheme, case study

£110 Billion Revamp

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 28th July 2011

Electrical contractors and renewable installers could be in high demand, as the proposed £110 billion investment is set to revamp the UK’s electricity generation infrastructure.

This huge venture has led experts to call on the government to incentivise training in the electrical and renewable energy (R.E) industries and it is expected that 115,000 new jobs will be created over the next ten years.

However this investment isn’t R.E specific and multi-skilled tradesmen such as electricians and plumbers will be able to enjoy the jobs demand too. “The idea that somehow we’ve been massively investing in renewables is absolute nonsense,” Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said on Tuesday. “We are catching up from a very low base. We’ve had 25 years of dithering on energy investment. We’ve got to stop dithering, because decision time is coming. You can have investment or you can have blackouts.”

This announcement comes from the new White Paper on Electricity Market Reform (EMR) from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC.) It outlines a plan to raise the percentage of R.E produced by 30% by 2030; it accounts for just 3% of the UK’s energy portfolio today. By raising the bar and investing in the countries energy generation infrastructure, it will help the UK move away from the more unreliable traditional fuel sources such as oil, and help to meet it’s legally binding carbon targets.

To ensure that our government is the “greenest government ever,’ officials at the DECC have confirmed that they will be spending £30 million over the next four years on developing green technology that’ll help power up the national grid and keep the countries lights on. This is the most significant change to Britain’s electricity sector since the privatisation in 1990 and the EMR is expected to pass into law in 2013.

Interested parties can still get into the industry before the boom by training or retraining in renewable energy technologies – as long as they chose a reliable course.

Trade Skills 4U are members of the Solar Trade Association and the Renewable Energy Association – so we are expertly able to offer training in renewable energy courses.

Trade Skills 4U have a dedicated Renewable Energy Training Centre, where first-time students and experienced personnel alike can train in renewable energy courses approved by BPEC, City & Guilds and NICEIC.

We offer a wide range of renewable energy courses for installers, sales consultants and industry professionals. Courses such as our Solar PV, Solar Thermal and Rainwater Harvesting are conducted on purpose built facilities within our centre and have received fantastic feedback from our accredited bodies and partners.

Training with Trade Skills 4U, could enable you to become fully qualified ahead of the boom in renewable energy.

Image Source @ eastsussexplumbingandheating.co.uk

Categories: decc, renewable energy, government, solar pv

A Quick Guide to Smart Meters

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 26th July 2011

A smart meter is an electrical meter that records consumption of electric energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information once or more daily to your energy supplier for monitoring and billing purposes.

In December 2009, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced its intention to have smart meters in all homes by 2020. This UK rollout of smart meters is considered to be the largest programme ever undertaken – involving visits to more than 27 million homes to replace meters for both electricity and gas.

The purpose of introduction

Traditional electrical meters only measure the total energy consumption and have never offered further information as to when and how the energy was consumed. Smart meters provide an economical way of measuring this information and can provide a number of potential benefits for homeowners.

These include:

A much desired end to the dreaded estimated bill. Through the rollout of the smart meter, householders will always receive accurate energy bills as their energy consumption will be correctly measured and submitted to their utility once or twice daily.

In House-Display to help consumers manage their energy bills. The home-display smart meters allow you to see how much your using and when it’s being used. Through this understanding you can pick a more suitable energy tariff/supplier or make changes to your current habits by managing your household’s energy consumption during peak usage hours.

Full control of your energy costs. The home-display will allow householder to have a better idea of how much your next bill is going to be, there will be no big surprises and it will be easier to budget.

A better environmental awareness. As you will have a better and more present idea of what you are spending, any cut back you make to decrease your overall energy usage will benefit the environment and reduce CO2 Emissions.

Smart Meters and the ‘in house-display’ (IHD)

In January 2011, the most intensive study of its kind was conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. They reviewed more than 36 different residential smart metering and feedback programmes internationally and their conclusion was: “To realise potential feedback-induced savings, advanced meters (smart meters) must be used in conjunction with in-home (or on-line) displays and well-designed programmes that successfully inform, engage, empower and motivate people.”

Last July, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) set out ‘proposals for a minimum set of functional requirements for the IHD that should be provided to domestic customers. In the design requirements – smart metering implementation programme it was concluded that:

• The smart metering equipment should store 13 months (instead of 12 months) of half hourly consumption data.

• There will be guidelines for ambient feedback (i.e. visual, non-numerical display features of the IHD) and accessibility will be developed as part of the technical specifications work in the next phase of the programme.

As we get closer to the official 2012 launch for this initiative there will be a wider variety of Smart Meters available in the domestic market, however these proposals have now been concluded and consumers should see the above functions* embedded within the new smart meter devices. The DECC should be announcing comprehensive proposals for the technical specifications this month (July 2011.)

*To see a list of all the minimum functional requirements click here.

Who will be installing my Smart Meter?

Energy suppliers, such as E.ON UK and British Gas, have taken it upon themselves to kick-start this installation process and have outlined plans to install 100,000 smart meters in customers’ homes by the end of 2011 and ‘reach 1 million by the end of March 2014,’ taken from E.ON’s website.

This determination to be at the forefront of smart meter installation has led companies like E.ON to specially train installers; a spokesperson at the company says: "Eon-UK has helped develop a smart metering qualification, which is aligned to our current training offerings, and is now supporting the work to develop an apprenticeship route. We are also hoping to be one of the first organisations to gain accreditation from NSAP for the quality of our smart meter training programmes and academies. Eon-UK has also just opened a Smart Metering Centre of Excellence in Nottingham, providing a dedicated contact point for customers with smart meters."

The Smart Meter Installer

According to an article published on Utility Week , ‘Smart meter installers will need to have both technical know-how and customer interaction skills.’

However, the main recruitment challenge will be in identifying and training installers who have both dual-fuel technical skills and the "softer" skills required to explain the operation of smart meters to customers - this dual-fuel cross-training and up skilling is a key training need.

Some feel the government should sponsor the development of suitable apprenticeship schemes to support the mandate. Eon-UK, however, has taken the initiative itself.

"Field force engineers will have to have dual-fuel capability, know how to commission the communications for the smart meter, pair up the in-home display device (IHD) and explain how it works to the customer. This requires a much broader set of technical and softer skills than is normally expected from a meter installer," says the spokesperson from Energy & Utility Skills, whose qualifications are funded by the National Skills Academy.

The Energy & Utility Skills suggest that up to 6,300 installers will be required to complete the smart metering rollout across the UK between 2014 and 2019.

EU Skills also indicates that, with a high proportion of the existing metering workforce approaching the average retirement age for the industry over the next five years, we could see a need for around 4,000 new recruits during this period.

Protecting the householder

To stop energy companies from making their sales pitch whilst installing your smart meter, independent expert advice company Which?, have encouraged other suppliers to take up their ‘Which? Smart Meter Challenge.’ Companies who accept the challenge will not sell during the installation and their smart meter installers will not be on sales-related omission or have to make any sales leads. Several companies have taken up the challenge so far; Co-operative energy, Ecotricity and First Utility are amongst the first seven.

Image source:@utilityweek.co.uk & @mirror.co.uk

Categories: smart meter

"A New Era in Home Heating."

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 25th July 2011

In a press release, published Thursday 21st July, the DECC has officially announced details on the Renewable Heat Premium Payments. It has been revealed that householders can receive Premium Payments from next month, to cover a proportion of the installation costs of renewable heat technologies.

£860 million has been allocated for the RHI, with £15 million set aside for Premium Payments. The available £15m will be to support heat installations in up to 25,000 homes with a review point once the £10m limit is approached. £3m of the £15m will be set aside for registered social landlords to improve their housing stock; details of how to apply for this will be released at a later date.

The Premium Payment scheme will be run by the Energy Savings Trust and anyone requiring information about the scheme should contact them at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/RHPP

Key points are as follows:


• The scheme starts 1 August and closes 31 March 2012

Solar thermal is available to any householder. Other technologies are only available for households not currently using gas heating.

• Householders in England, Scotland and Wales can apply. They must certify that this is their main home and that they have basic energy efficiency measures in place (loft insulation to 250mm and cavity wall insulation, where appropriate)

• Both the product and installer must be MCS (we think this also means ‘or equivalent’, but the DECC press release is unclear)

• Recipients of the payments will be eligible for RHI, assuming they meet the other conditions of the RHI. There are no details of these conditions on the press release


• Payments for solar thermal are at the same rates as those previously published - £300

• Once registered, householders receive a voucher for the relevant amount. They must install the kit within 3 months for solar thermal and 6 months for all the others. Installations must have been completed by 31st March 2012

Feedback Information

• Participants must complete 2 surveys

• Some households will also be selected at random to provide further information via meter installations. Agreeing to this if selected is a condition of the scheme – the meters will be installed free of charge.

The scheme is open to householders in England, Scotland and Wales and will open on the 1st August 2011 and operate on a first come, first serve basis. The government have not yet published proposals how the RHI will work in the domestic sector, and have not yet published any eligibility criteria.

In the House of Commons Energy Minister, Greg Baker, called the RHI scheme ‘a new era in home heating.

Research Source - STA

Interested in taking advatnage of the solar thermal demand? Take a look our our solar thermal courses today.


Categories: renewable heat incentive

Government to invest £22 billion in construction projects

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 20th July 2011

Minister of the cabinet office, Francis Maude, spoke yesterday at the Construction Procurement Conference and stated that further details of these figures and details will be confirmed later in the autumn.

Mr Maude Said: “The government’s construction strategy is reducing costs by up to 20% by reforming the way we procure construction projects across all sectors. However, we are still investing billions of pounds annually; with the same money we will procure more schools, hospitals, courts and prisons. Despite an incredibly difficult economic climate we are investing in and prioritizing our construction industry.”

“The government and the construction industry have a shared obligation to cut waste and find new and better ways of doing business. This is especially important when we are talking about creating first class, modern, fully functioning public service delivery buildings like hospitals and schools.”

This announcement came as a shock since there were expectations amongst the industry that construction funding would be slashed.

The Minister also revealed further details of the new Government Construction Board chaired by Paul Morrell under which:

• The Efficiency and Reform Group Steering Committee will be chaired by Andrew Wolstenholme, who will work with task groups chaired by Nick Pollard, Tim Eaton, Deborah Rowland, Mark Bew and Bill Yardley.

• The IUK Steering Committee will be chaired by Peter Hansford, working with task groups chaired by Simon Kirby, Professor Brian Collins and Steve Fox.

The full Construction Strategy can be found by clicking here.


PAT Testing Course Feedback

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 20th July 2011

It is always great to hear back from our customers; so when you receive a letter of thanks about the course and our instructors it put our whole team on track for a very good day.

Below is a letter we recieved from Site Safety Supervisor, Andrew Fitches. Andew attended our PAT testing course in June and wrote to us with thanks.


Thank you Andrew for you letter, it is much appreciated.

If you or your collegues would like to do our PAT Testing course, click here for more information.

Categories: company news, customer feedback

FREE 17th Edition Seminar

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 19th July 2011

The 17th Edition course amendments were published on 1st July 2011. To help you and your colleagues gain an appreciation of the changes and additions incorporated in the first amendment, we are holding a one off free seminar on 17th August 2011 at 6.30pm, aimed at all those involved in the electrical installation industry.

If you are a designer, engineer, electrician, electrical contractor, maintenance technician, project manager or tutor/trainer in these areas, you will need to know about the following changes and additions:

Measures against electromagnetic disturbances - new section 444;

Devices for protection against overvoltage (surge protection) - new section 534;

Medical locations - new Section 710;

Operating or maintenance gangways - New Section 729;

Model forms for certification and reporting - Appendix 6;

This evening theory course covers the regulation changes being introduced by the First Amendment to the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations, published in July 2011.  It is designed for those who’ve already completed the City & Guilds 2382 17th Edition course. There is no assessment involved as there isn’t a qualification specific to this course.  However, delegates will receive a Trade Skills 4U Certificate of Attendance.


Categories: ts4u taster events, events, 17th edition

Quick Guide to the Renewable Heat Incentive

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 15th July 2011

The acronym FIT’s (Feed in Tariff’s) is slowly but surely becoming common knowledge amongst the public as they realise that these three letters actually mean we can not only save money but earn money from Solar PV. However there is a new acronym on the block known as the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive).

Just like it’s electrical cousin the RHI is intended to incentivise businesses and homeowners to implement renewable heating sources along side traditional fossil fuel heating.

Unlike Solar PV where the electricity pumped back into the national grid can be measured accurately RHI intends to reward people for the heat they produce by metering heat generated in commercial settings. It is also suggested that for domestic settings “deeming” could be used to suggest how much heat the installation should produce if the property were well insulated. This is still be confirmed.

Initially the RHI is being rolled out to the non-domestic sector and we are awaiting its launch any day now. However home owners and domestic installations are not due to benefit until October next year. The government believes that the initial non-domestic phase will provide enough momentum to get a number of renewable technologies off the ground including:

Solar Thermal


Geothermal and Ground Source Heat

Biogas Heat and Gas Injection.

However they are still weighing up the inclusion of Air Source Heat Pumps.

For the technologies included above tariff’s will be payable for 20 years (5 less than FIT’s) and the exact levels are likely to be much lower than Solar PV. However the cost of installation is also likely to be much lower. We have laid out some quick reference points below:

Commences in July 2011 (date still to be confirmed) for solar thermal, biomass and Ground Source Heat Pumps. Energy to be metered and tariff lasts for 20 years.

Rates are 8.5p for solar thermal up to 200kW and ground source is 4.3p up to 100kW and 3p above 100kW. Air source is not supported for commercial initially – but may be supported from 2012

Domestic RHI in October 2012 to coincide with Green Deal (but RHI Premium payment available from July 2011 – details still to be announced.)

To claim the Renewable Heat Incentive you must have installed an operating renewable heat system on your property after July 15, 2009.

As of July 2011, up to 25,000 installations will be supported by a new ‘RHI Premium Payment’ to help people cover the purchase price of green heating systems. The RHI Premium Payment will cover technologies across all of Great Britain. The amount for solar thermal for example is £300/unit.

Those taking up the premium will be eligible for a RHI tariff from October 2012, as will anyone else who has had eligible equipment installed from July 15, 2009.

The exact amounts available to consumers have yet to be confirmed. However the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have announced that the following amounts may be available:

Solar Thermal - £300/unit

Air Source Heat Pumps - £850/unit

Biomass boilers - £950/unit

Ground Source Heat Pumps - £1,250/unit.

These are one off payments; so not annual. DECC plan to publish details of the “RHI Premium Payment” and how this will apply in May this year (nothing has been announced so far as of the 15th July 2011)


Categories: renewable heat incentive

Renewable Energy Roadmap

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 14th July 2011

The Renewable Energy Roadmap, the first of its kind in the UK, is set to accelerate the deployment and use of renewable energy in the UK. It plans to put us on ‘path to achieve our 2020 target’ while focusing on the matters that are of interest to the consumer such as delivering long term change with minimum cost. The 107 page document identifies eight technologies that have the potential to help the UK meet its target of sourcing 15% of its electricity from renewable sources.

‘The Government’s Electricity Market Reform White Paper, published alongside this Roadmap, sets out our reforms to the separate Great Britain and Northern Ireland markets for all forms of electricity generation. Reform will ensure that low-carbon electricity from a diverse range of sources - not just renewables - becomes a more attractive choice for investors, delivering long-term change while minimising cost to the consumer,’ says the department of climate change.

Because renewable energy isn’t just about electricity; the focus has moved onto the heat, wind and biomass technologies such as solar thermal and heat pumps. These have actually been around a lot longer than the popular solar PV, however because the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has taken some time to establish itself, the demand for these aren’t quite as high…yet.

There has been a real global appetite for solar PV and since the UK launched the Feed-in-Tariff in April last year, the interest in this technology has grown because of the sheer benefits available. The incentive for solar power has been supported by the Renewable Obligation which protects the incentive once it has been reviewed from 2013-2017.

A report published by Ernst & Young 2011 reveals the uptake of the scheme and states that by the end of May 2011 ‘nearly 38,000 solar PV installations in Great Britain were receiving support through the Feed-in Tariff’ which shows how popular this technology has become. Considering the impact solar PV and other solar technologies and how they contributed to the 2020 target so far, It was quite surprising to read that solar PV was left of the list of technologies. 

The Renewable Roadmap clearly outlines ways to promote other technologies focuses on these particular 8 technologies that the government feel have the most potential to help the UK meet its 2020 targets in the most cost effective and sustain way.

• On shore Wind

• Offshore Wind

• Marine Energy

• Biomass Electricity

• Biomass Heat

• Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps

• Renewable Transport

Creating actions for these key technologies will allow the UK drive the cost of deploying these energies down, whilst enabling them to mature so that medium to long-term they will not need additional support to compete with other low carbon technologies.

For those that are most interested in training to installer renewable heat, this new financial strategy should encourage installation of equipment like heat pumps and biomass, reducing emissions and helping support of 150,000 jobs in the UK’s heating industry. The renewable energy industry already employs more than a quarter of a million people and by the time we reach 2020, that number could reach to over half a million. This industry has created news jobs within the sector and given indirect support and benefits to sustain this new green economy. This journey has been heavily measured and the UK Renewable Energy Roadmap has deployed a wide range of renewables to help the government meet their 2020 target.

• Even though we are starting from a low level the UK can meet the target to deliver 15% of the UK’s energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 through domestic deployment. Recent ‘bottom-up’ analysis, based on industry inputs, suggests that there is significant upside potential and downside risk to deployment;

• Based on current information, and taking account of their long term potential as well as their cost effectiveness, 8 technologies are capable of delivering more than 90% of the renewable energy we estimate is required by 2020;

• The pipeline of renewable electricity projects is healthy. Although, allowing for historic dropout rates27, it puts us on track to deliver approximately 29 GW of capacity by 2020, significant uncertainties remain and we still urgently need new renewable projects to come forward to ensure we meet the 15% target and longer term carbon reduction targets;

• The pipeline for renewable heat projects is less well developed but following the introduction of the world’s first incentive for renewable heat could deliver up to an additional 100,000 heat pumps and an additional 24,000 biomass heat28installations by 2020;

• Road transport biofuels are proposed to increase to 5% of road transport fuels by 2014. Subject to the results of current consultations, Government will come forward with options in Spring 2012 to stimulate further growth in renewable transport for the period after 2014;

• Costs of renewable energy technologies are currently high and uncertain but are expected to fall over time as supply chains develop, technical challenges


Categories: decc, renewable energy, government, solar pv

17th Edition Course Feedback

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 13th July 2011

Below is the letter from one of our happy customers that completed his 17th Edition training with us.

Last week we received a letter of thanks from one of our customers studying the 17th Edition course.

Mr Atkins was particularly impressed with Mark our instructor who did 'an excellent job.'

Mr Atkins said " I recently completed a 17th Edition course (20-22nd June) at Trade Skills 4U. I want to congratulate Mark, our instructor for an excellent job. The subject was quite in-depth with all the regulations yet Mark made the subject interesting with relevant examples given by his experienced background. I did find the subject hard going (22 years Marine Engineering with the Royal Navy as my background) yet Mark's instruction was very informative and professional.

Yours faithfully,

Rick Atkins



Categories: customer feedback, 17th edition