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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

EAL 7695: The No.1 Route for Domestic Installers Has Been Updated

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 24th January 2014

Since changes were implemented last April to Part P the industry has been looking to introduce new qualifications which specifically address the updated requirements. Since that time the EAL 7695 has been available, however it was not an immediate hit simply because there are still other routes available for those wishing to register as a domestic installer on a Part P scheme.

EAL have been working in conjunction with Trade Skills 4U to update this qualification and make it more accessible for all. This is why we are now pleased to be the first in the UK to be able to offer this new updated qualification. The key change is that this all of qualification assessment can now be delivered in centre making it much more manageable for students and trainers alike.

Why should you take this course?

This course is now the no. 1 recommended route for those looking to register on a Part P scheme. It is what the industry has been calling out for and covers much more detailed training specific to domestic installation than its predecessors. Its one single qualification designed with this purpose in mind and as such the course content can be much more specific in what it covers in relation to domestic installation.

Another key difference is that this qualification will map into to the qualifications required to become a fully qualified electrician should you wish to work on commercial projects and open up your scope of work  at a later stage. This is a major improvement and means that this course is a real entry point into the electrical industry as a whole not just domestic installation.

EAL have confirmed this in their Qualification Factsheet which has just been published. You can download a copy here.

What’s covered by this course?

The new qualification covers more in depth training on installation, electro-technical science, regulations, fault finding and inspection and testing. As such it is studied over a longer period with 5 weeks in centre with us and 3 or more weeks spent studying via our online learning management system.

As a brief overview you will receive with Trade skills 4U:

2 weeks hands on installation training

1 Week inspection and testing

1 Week  fault finding and science

1 Week Wiring Regulations

Plus the following modules delivered via our online learning management system:

Health and Safety

Environmental Technologies & Legislation

Organisation & Management

If you are thinking about training make sure you check out this latest qualification as well as the other course we are able to offer.

 

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

MD

Tradeskills4U

 

Welcome to 2014 - Construction Projects Set for Boost from Private Sector Growth

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 15th January 2014

Upon reflection, 2013 was a year of hard work within the construction industry which reaped a little more benefit that hadn't been seen in recent years.  The economy is showing signs of improving which is fuelled by the foreseen growth in the construction industry. Early signs are indicating that 2014 is going to be the best year seen since 2009 when the economic downturn began.

So what should the construction industry expect in 2014?  We take a look at the anticipated high and low points expected for this year.

The good news

This is great news for both electrical contractors and sub-contractors.  There will be more opportunities for fitting out retail and office premises.  The retail focus on 2014 will be more small scale refurbishment work and fewer large scale projects.  With consumer confidence growing, businesses are starting to invest and expand rather than merely fight for survival.

In fact it is London that is driving growth according to cnplus.co.uk thanks to public sector recovery and small scale retail growth.  This is encouraging news for electrical firms looking for new contracts. Electrical firms that have kept a tight control on their purse strings have reported strong and stable business growth during 2013.  Diversification into specialist areas such as electrical maintenance and electronic security have aided continued survival.

New research from Glenigan, the leading provider of construction project leads and industry analysis suggests that the private sector will provide the majority of the upturn and much needed boost to the construction industry.  The value of private sector housing projects is set to grow as expected by 9%.  Other key projects driving recovery forward are hotels and leisure at a growth of 13%, retail which suffered a 24% dip during 2013 but is expected to rise to 7% during 2014, offices expected to grow by 8% this year as well as an increase in demand within the industrial sector.  These sectors are expected to form the backbone of a solid return to growth in 2014.

With business investment that has been held back in previous years now finally being given the go-ahead, office projects are rising significantly in the capital.  Other major UK towns and cities have not been left behind, however a current shortage of space means some projects are delayed and will therefore see growth continuing into next year.

This is leading to increasing demand for distribution centre projects.  Unfortunately the manufacturing sector sees its demand for premises reduced as it continues to raise output to pre-recession levels.

Less Positive

This was not unforeseen.  The reduction is due to continued public sector cutbacks. However current activity does remain at 48% higher than in 2007.  Unfortunately this is not expected to continue during 2014 as a result of the continued public sector cuts.

Although the driver for the current growth, Glenigan expects further project starts during 2014 to flatten out.  However other UK regions are expected to pick up on this growth drive particularly in private sector housing thanks to increased confidence in the housing market, lower interest rates and easier mortgage availability.

Source: Glenigan

Overall

There are signs of sustainable growth not seen before in the construction industry in recent years.  There is growing optimism that projects are coming to fruition and not just dying out at the planning stages.

The general feeling within the construction industry is quiet confidence that the worst of the downturn is now over.

The focus for 2014 will be on the private sector driving recovery with grass roots already being formed for continued growth in 2015.

 

Instant Finance Now Available for Trade Skills 4U Courses

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 10th January 2014

Here at Trade Skills 4U we are constantly looking at ways to improve what we offer for our customers. They are constantly asking us if they can spread the payments of their courses and we will often offer pay as you train options for customers taking longer courses.

However we have now taken this a step further. Working in partnership with Pay4Later we are now able to offer the ability for customers to pay for their courses with a loan and spread the cost over a 12- 48 month period.

Customers can simply call our course advisors, discuss the course options and also work out what finance is available. Once they are happy with the options and want to book the course we simply send out a link from which you can complete your loan application and gain an instant approval.

The whole process can be complete in a matter of minutes and means that for the first time ever the best electrical training can be more accessible for those looking to spread the cost of the course.

The pay4later loans are just an addition to numerous ways in which customers can pay for their course including:

Pay In full

Pay a deposit and then pay in full

Pay as you train

Funding

24+ Advanced Learning Loans

Enhanced Learning Credits

Job Centre Plus funding

The great thing about the Pay4later loans is that your get an instant decision and can apply the finance to any course or booking you make with Trade Skills 4U.

The loan is serviced via Pay4Later leaving Trade Skills 4U to remain focussed on what we do best, electrical training. More information can be found here.

 

Electric Vehicle Charging Points?

Posted by Joe Bennett on 6th January 2014

Charging the Nation?

Can we meet the demand for electric vehicle charging points?

The demand for electric vehicle charging points is set to rise significantly in order to meet future demands and develop transport infrastructure.  Potentially this is another key source of income for electricians as more businesses roll out electric vehicle charging points which in turn will lead to charging points being installed at domestic properties.

EV to date

Currently any business that is forward thinking enough to install electric vehicle charging points make the news! As much as that is great publicity, more needs to be done to develop a growing demand for sustainability.  The government wants the uptake of electric vehicle (EV) charging points to increase so has set aside funding to pay for EV charging points.

One of the main barriers to the wide spread use of the electric car is the availability of EV charging points.  As of September 2013, only 4,100 electric cars had been registered, with local authorities across the UK having spent £7.2 million installing EV charging points since April 2010.

If the governments aim of cutting carbon emissions and developing the transport infrastructure to meet future needs is to come to fruition, then greater use of electric vehicles is a good way of achieving this.  Developing a new network of rapid charge points will be necessary to fulfil this aim.

Current developments

Just over a week ago, IKEA announced that all 18 of its UK stores will have electric vehicle charging points by the end of the year.  They have teamed up with Nissan and green energy supplier Ecotricity.

The EV points will deliver an 80% charge to an electric car within 30 minutes.  This will make IKEA the first major retail chain to offer the much anticipated 'rapid charge' points at every store.

Is demand for EV charge points growing?

The electric vehicle market is growing which in turn is putting a bigger demand on developing the required infrastructure.

So far in 2013, in excess of 1,500 LEAFS, Nissans all new electric vehicle, have been sold.  This figure is 3 times up on comparable sales of the LEAF in 2012.

Additionally, research carried out by POD Point, who are one of the leading UK charging infrastructure providers reveal that IKEA in Wembley was the most popular place to charge an electric car in the whole of the London network.

What else is happening?

Aside from the Nissan and IKEA developments, sales of all electric cars in the UK reached nearly 1,150 in the third quarter of 2013, an increase of 25% on the second quarter.

The governments £5000 Plug In car grant scheme has achieved a record 1,149 new registrations, the highest figure of any quarter since the scheme began.  This suggests that the electric vehicle market is growing leading to a demand in vehicle charging points.

Electric vehicle charging point demand

Sustainable development consultancy Electric Village have announced that demand for charging station hosts and locations is growing particularly in prime locations such as city centres, high streets, suburban areas and major highways.  They estimate that within the next 18 months there will be a requirement for 5000-6000 new locations for EV charging points to support the £37 million funding initiative by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) which have supported 78 infrastructure projects in the UK.  A further 4000 sites are required by private sector organisations such as car companies, fleet operators, taxi companies and energy companies.

So it is clear to see demand is growing!

Moving Forward

Whether the demand for EV charging points can be met will require the combined efforts of many.

• Local leaders need to develop local initiatives to ensure the planned infrastructure fits in with community needs and priorities.

• Electricity distributors need to factor in additional demand from electric vehicles as part of their plans to reinforce the grid.

•  Electricity suppliers have an opportunity to develop new tariffs for electric vehicles.

• Businesses and investors need to act on commercial opportunities for EC charging points.

Conclusion

The government is currently funding £400 million to support the early market for electric vehicles which comprises of purchase grants, installing charge points as well as research and development.  This package will end in April 2015.

After this, the government is planning a further support package to last until 2020 of £500 million which will build on the current package.  This package will support inward investment as well as increasing vehicle uptake.

EV charge points and vehicles is a fast moving market and updates are happening frequently.  It will be interesting to see how the range of different parties that have been brought together will help to make this market a success.