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10 Second Survey: Electrical DIY Disasters

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 30th October 2013

We often see online and in the trade press a host of horrendous installations that sparkies discover in their every day life. Since Part P was introduced in 2005 the range of work that DIY enthusiasts carry out in their own home has been vastly reduced and these days a bit like drink driving the message to home owners and landlords is simple. Don't do it!

However more often than not electricians still get called to fix botched installations that have gone wrong. We want to find the main jobs DIYers are still attempting and still getting wrong. So help us out by taking our ten second survey below:


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


We will be collecting responses over the next month and publishing the results shortly before Christmas. 

Categories: 10 second survey

What is Inspection and Testing?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 29th October 2013

You may hear it called it test and inspect by many people in the industry, however the correct terminology you should be using is inspection and testing. This is because it makes sense to inspect first and then test. It's quite simple really, how can you test something that you haven't inspected?

In layman’s terms Inspection and Testing is the testing procedures that electricians use to ensure that a circuit is working correctly and safe for use before being energised. It is a set of processes and procedures which must be followed and involves the use of test equipment to measure that the installation is functioning as expected in accordance with the wiring regulations.

It is a vital part of every electrical job and is completely separate to Part P. An inspection and test is carried out to verify, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the requirements of BS 7671 (Wiring Regulations) and other relevant regulations have been met, during the job itself and after completion before handing over to the client. Inspection and testing should also be carried out for all electrical installations at regular intervals. For example an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) for existing installations.

It is applicable to all areas of electrical work whether this is domestic, commercial or industrial.

Before inspection and testing is carried out

Protecting Others

It is important to ensure that safety precautions are carried out before starting. This is to protect the health and safety of others and also yourself.

It is important to protect the safety of people, livestock and property against the dangers and damage that electrical installations can cause. In basic terms this means assessing risk of injury from things such as:

Electric shock


Other moving equipment

Power supply interruptions

Arcing or burning

Protecting yourself

It is important that other people know you are carrying out inspection and testing, particularly other workers on site. Therefore it is important to label or suitably identify the switchgear and control gear when carrying out inspection and testing. Again this simply means ensuring that no-one accidentally switches on or attempts to use the installation currently undergoing inspection and testing.

Whilst these measures may seem a little extreme, it is worth bearing in mind that the installation has not been verified as being safe so still needs to be treated as a potentially dangerous installation. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Who can do inspection and testing?

Inspection and testing can only be carried out by a competent person with relevant experience and qualifications. We offer a number of courses for those wishing to carry out inspection and testing including:

1. City & Guilds 2392 Course – For those inspecting and testing their own installations in domestic properties.

2. City & Guilds 2394 Course – For those with some existing knowledge of inspection and testing and working with 3 phase

3. City & Guilds 2395 Course – Periodic Inspection and Testing for those with a solid understanding of inspection and testing.

What is Inspection?

It is carried out before the testing and the installation is normally disconnected from the supply.

The point of inspection is to verify that the installed equipment:

Complies with relevant standards – this is normally a mark of certification by the installer or manufacturer

Is the correct type and installed in accordance to the Regulations

Not damaged or defective which would cause a safety issue

The Inspection includes the checking of several items which are relevant to the installation. The checking can also take place, if necessary, during installation. The items checked are listed in Regulation 611.3 'Inspection' BS7671.

What is testing?

It is important that testing is carried out using the correct equipment and methods and the results are compared with relevant criteria contained in Regulations 612.2 to 612.13

Testing also needs to be carried out in a specific order before the installation can be switched on. The test order is detailed in Regulations 612.2 to 612.6

If any part of the testing fails to comply, that test plus any other testing already carried out has to be repeated once the fault has been fixed. This is because the results of the tests may not be accurate and may have been influenced by the fault.


Ageing Workforce Could Lead to Shortage of Electricians

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 16th October 2013

Like in many industry sectors, electricians are working to a later age, however, for once, this has nothing to do with pensions, but rather to keep up with increasing demand from the construction sector.

The rise of older electrician......and the decline of new recruits

On the face of it, this statement makes absolutely no sense.  Any logical working arrangement sees older workers take retirement and an influx of new workers all eager to take the helm. This is not the case though in the construction industry.  The construction industry is becoming increasingly reliant on an older workforce in order to keep up with the growing demand.

What’s Happening with Electricians?

As of the 1st January 2012, 3,185 registered JIB electricians in the UK were over the age of 56.  Whilst this figure may not seem significant it actually forms the only age group in the construction industry to not suffer a decline in workforce numbers in recent years.  In fact, it is the only age group that has seen as increase in workforce numbers year on year since 1987 suggesting that older electricians are delaying retirement to keep the construction industry moving forward.

Source: JIB Labour Report 2012

Electricians are working for longer and in fewer numbers.

In just a few years, the construction industry has seen a major reduction in workforce numbers, particularly in younger age groups.  According to the latest JIB Labour Report, in 2005, there were 20,518 registered electricians.  By 2012, this figure had shrunk to 17,986 and the reduction does not show any sign of slowing.  For many of us 2005 does not seem too long ago and a reduction of 2,532 JIB registered electricians in this length of time is cause for concern. What’s most significant is the number of those between the ages of 27 and 56 who have left the industry. The figures below show that 2639 workers who should have been in their prime have actually left the industry over the last 7 years.

Source: JIB Labour Report 2012

Lack of skilled construction workers

To cope with foreseen UK construction demand, the workforce will need to increase significantly and we really need to start seeing more and more people entering the industry to meet the demands that will be required in the future. One key issue is the lack of apprenticeships that allow people to retrain and get the required skills. The recent economic climate has also made things more difficult but with a clear turn in the economy on the horizon will we be able to meet the demands of our growing nation?

The UK faces a shortage of 66,800 construction workers by the year 2050.  This means that the workers at that time approaching retirement (and that could include many people reading this article) may be coerced into working later and later into old age.  And who knows what state the construction industry will be in at that time if changes don't happen soon.

Why is this happening in the construction industry anyway?

According to recruitment specialist Randstad CPE the shortage of construction workers is due to skills shortages, an ageing workforce and a restrictive migration policy. An ageing workforce presents a particular problem.  In America it is not uncommon to find electricians working until they are past 70.  Without their input, the country would not perform efficiently and would have serious consequences for prosperity.

Is the UK heading the same way?

Unfortunately the forecast figures are not looking promising for the UK and it's not just the construction industry likely to experience a workforce shortfall.  In fact the education sector is likely to be the worst effected.

An analysis carried out by Randstad CPE in 2012 indicated that the UK will require a workforce of 35.4 million to meet demand, however an ageing population will leave only 32.3 million people of working age – currently 3.1 million short of the required demand.

With the construction industry recognised as a key profession and representing 2% of the current workforce if this analysis is proven, it will be sure to have a serious effect on the future of the UK economy.

Surely a big promotional campaign will suffice to attract new people?

Unfortunately this is unlikely to help.  In fact the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) foresees that the construction sector is set to lose 400,000 people over the next 5-10 years (and more still in the next 20 years) through the retirement of highly experienced electricians.

This makes alarming reading.  With trainee electricians studying for qualifications and gaining experience, 5 years is not a long time.  As a guide, an electricians apprenticeship can take 3-4 years.  Do we have that long?  Already this would lead to a swathe of inexperienced electricians entering the construction industry just as the more experienced guys are about to leave.  Of course this all would be an 'at best' scenario assuming that such a promotional campaign would be successful.

As it currently stands, the UK faces a repeat of the skills crisis that affected the construction industry badly in the 1990's.  To avoid such a situation, action needs to be taken now.

What needs to be done?

It is essential that young people still in school are in the mindset that working within the construction and engineering sector is a worthwhile, rewarding and well paid career.  In fact, the engineering sector is one of very few sectors which is struggling to fill job vacancies with the right people.  With engineers behind ground breaking constructions such as the Shard and the Olympic Stadium, it is a career choice where the opportunities are practically limitless and never-ending.  In the coming years we will see a continued demand for new houses and renewable energies will be standard practice.  However, without the skills and manpower to make this happen, the UK is in danger of losing out in a worrying way.


Categories: retirement

Meet a Student: Alex Beedel

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 14th October 2013

Every now again we like to introduce you to one of our students so you can get a feel for what they think of us and the type of people that train here at Trade Skills 4U. This week we have caught up with Alex Beedel who happens to be related to Chris Beedel from Certsure.

Alex is 20 years old, a bright chap who has already passed a foundation Degree in Countryside Management. However like many graduates he was unsure about working in his chosen field and was looking for a new challenge. He is at an age where his decisions really count and with some good references from family and friends already working in the electrical industry he decided to retrain with Trade Skills 4U.

Alex weighed up the time and expense of doing a longer course but in the end decided to attend our Bronze Domestic Installers Package. He was with us for 18 days in total between the 1st and 24th July.

Being a bit of a bright spark Alex passed all 4 of his qualifications first time. On passing we caught up with him and asked some questions:

What made you want to study electrical installation?

“I have been interested in electrics since school and did some work experience. If an apprenticeship had been available I would have done it. I haven’t been really happy in all the jobs I have undertaken since school and was looking to progress towards a permanent job and career. After my GCSES I did a course in Gamekeeping & Countryside Management and up until now I had been working as a tree surgeon. ”

Why did you choose Trade Skills 4U?

“You were the first on the internet, the price seemed reasonable; I took advantage of the Summer Sale and paid £2045 plus VAT. The pass rates listed were high and I also had a recommendation from my uncle Chris Beedel who works for Certsure. “

How was the course funded?

“I managed to get a loan from my Dad which he has agreed I can pay back once I am working.”

What were the main things you liked about Trade Skills 4U?

“The facilities were great, I was training during the heat wave so it was a godsend that the building had aircon. All the classrooms were perfect for the course you were studying and generally it was a really nice learning environment.

“Also there are lots of excellent hotels close to the training centre which was  handy as I live in Hertfordshire and stayed over. “

“The class dynamic worked really well and I got to know the guys  through the course as most of us spent nearly 4 weeks together. The practical’s were really enjoyable and the tutors were consistently excellent throughout the different courses.

“I expect to be back in the future probably to top up my qualifications once I have more experience under my belt. I would definitely recommend Trade Skills 4U.”

What’s next for you?

“I am now going to look for work as a Domestic Installer, get some experience and get myself registered with NICEIC. I am now confident enough to go out and start doing installations.”

Like many in the industry Alex has chosen to start out as a Domestic Installer. He knows this will give him a taste of what it is like to work as an electrician. As his experience grows he may then choose to qualify as a commercial electrician too.


Are You Charging Enough? 10 Things for Self Employed Sparkies to Consider

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 4th October 2013

So you are sick of your full time job and have decided to take the plunge and become your own boss. You may be changing career or alrready working as an electrician and need to go it alone. Either way you will need to decide how much to charge for your services. Many people thinking about contracting after working full time and will do a simple calculation; hourly rate multiplied by 35 hour week multiplied by 52. However before your set your hourly or daily rate there are a number of things you need factor in:

1. Invoicing / Cash Flow – Time spent invoicing for jobs and chasing cash up is not something most people will consider they will be doing when they start out in their new venture. However speak to any self employed contactor and they will tell you it is a major part of the job.

2. Marketing – How will you generate the customers needed to support your new venture? Many people starting a new business take the Field of Dreams approach, “If You Build It, They Will Come”. However nothing is further than the truth. Even if you are setting up as a contractor you should consider how you will market yourself and how much this will cost.

3. Skills / Training – Do you already have all the skills required in order to run the business? Do these need updating on a regular basis? Remember if you suddenly find yourself working on your own you may suddenly be disconnected from everyone else in your industry. How much time or money will you need to spend to keep up to date each year? As a sparky the good news is that once qualified very few courses need to be refreshed. The main one that you may need to re-book will be the 17th Edition Course should it get updated again!

4. Accounting / Tax – You will now be responsible for paying your own tax. In most cases you will want to employ an accountant which can be costly, however there are numerous accounting services available which are tailored specifically to the contractor, freelancer and sole trader. They have low costs and simple online interfaces to allow you to process your own accounts. Many of these are available from a low monthly fee and not only save you time and money they can also relieve you of the stress of scribbling around to do your accounts at the last minute.

5. Holidays – You will no longer be paid for your holiday time. Including bank holidays most full time employees get around 6 weeks paid leave per year. This is the equivalent to a 12% increase in your hourly or daily rate.

6. Insurance – Every business needs insurance. The cost will vary depending on the level of cover and the types of josb you do. You may need public liability insurance, business car insurance and maybe even contents insurance that is tailored to a business rather than a personal need.

7. Tools of your trade – Especially if you are planning in working in manual trade you will need to consider which tools you will require and how much will they costs? How often will they need renewing and will you need to insure these?

8. Travel – How much will it cost you to travel to clients premises to carry out work or simply meet them to discuss their needs? Will you be charging for your travel on top of your time there?

9. Quotes – You will have to pitch and quote for work in order to generate new business. These take time and often a lot of effort and often you won’t get paid a penny unless you win the business. Although you can offset the cost of providing quotes by upping your hourly rate this will be one of the biggest areas that you will find you work on with no pay whatsoever.

10. Premises – As your business grows you may need premises. Be that an office or storage for tools. The premises will need to be made fit for purpose and may also incur business rates.

So looking at the above list you may want to re-think your planned hourly rate and maybe increase your initial estimate by 30% at least. However one thing that you must also consider is what the market will pay. Essentially despite the list above your hourly rate can only be as high as the market will bear. If you happen to be in an industry where there is a skills shortage then you will find it easier to charge what you want.

This may all sound very negative but don’t be put off. In fact it is encouraging to know that the average earnings of those self employed is roughly double that of those in full time employment in the UK at £50,820 per annum and over  70% of self employed workers now earn over the national average of £26,093. Just make sure when you do your sums you take into account the various costs you may incur when starting out on your own.


Rugby League World Cup - Trade Skills 4U will #bethere

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 3rd October 2013

As you may or may not know we are mad about Rugby League here at Trade Skills 4U. In fact our Director Carl Bennett is such a mad fan that he has made a guest appearance in a short clip promoting the upcoming Rugby League World Cup. See if you can spot him in the video below:


This is a huge year for Rugby League with the World Cup coming to England and Wales it will become even more prominent. The first game kicks off on the 26th October with a match between England and Australia at the millenium stadium in Cardiff. If you have never watched a game before you will find some amazing matches on offer with the best teams in the world all competing in the tournament which culimnates in the final on the 30th November at Old Trafford. 




Categories: rugby league

Free Part P Guide for Beginners

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 1st October 2013

We get asked numerous questions every day about Part P. Many people who are new to the industry are confused as to what exactly Part P is and why it is important. As such we have compiled a handy PDF guide that you can download, print and read at your leisure. The guide answers some specific questions such as:

What exactly is Part P?

Which types of work require a Part P Certificate?

What is a special Location?

What are minor works?

What are Electrical Installation Certificates?

Why is this important for you?

How can you certify your work?

What do you need to do to join a Part P scheme?

The guide is intended to give you an overview of Part P and help you understand the impact it has on you as a new entrant into the industry.

The pdf can be downloaded by clicking the image above or this link below:

Download our Free PDF Part P Guide for Beginners Here

Need Adobe PDF Reader? Click Here






Categories: part p