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Qualification Alert: NVQ for Experienced Electricians To Be Introduced By EAL and C&G

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 26th June 2014

Recently we have been getting calls from numerous experienced electricians who have found themselves almost frozen out of the industry because they lack a Level 3 NVQ qualification. They are unable to get an ECS card or JIB grading as fully qualified until they have completed the 2357 NVQ or EAL Equivalent. The catch is many have older qualifications such as the C&G 236 Part 1 and 2 which are not mapped to the latest C&G 2357 NVQ. This means that experienced electricians with older versions of the technical certificates are stuck in limbo. They literally would need to start at the beginning again with the 2365 or 2357 qualifications (or EAL equivalents).

This seemed crazy and meant that many sparks simply felt that they were being penalised despite having solid experience and older qualifications.

It seems that the powers that be may have heard the cry for help from the 1000’s of sparkies who have found themselves frozen out of the industry. EAL and C&G have both confirmed they will be re-launching the older style NVQ for electricians who have been working in the industry for more than 5 years. We are still waiting for the specific details, however it is likely that the NVQ will be very similar to the C&G 2356 NVQ which was phased out in 2012 and EAL equivalent which was phased out at the end of 2013.

It will now be compulsory to complete the AM2 assessment in order to complete the Level 3 NVQ which most people would have done anyway in order to gain fully qualified status.

So what does this mean for you?

If you have recently completed your tech certs such as 2365, 2330 or EAL equivalents then you will most likely need to still transfer into the 2357 NVQ by way of some form of Bridging unit.

If you have been working in the industry for more than 5 years and can prove your level of competence to be at the same level as the modern day tech certs then you will be able to save time and money to complete this special NVQ for experienced electricians.

We are still waiting on the finer details and as always nothing is set in stone. We would ask any candidates looking to apply for the NVQ to complete a skills assessment form and return that to us so we can assess your competence and the scope of work available to you. We can then confirm which NVQ you can register for and a specific cost for your situation.

Although many installers work in the industry without an NVQ, many see it as the best way to demonstrate their competence to potential employers especially those looking to gain longer contracts on larger projects.

Our advice to everyone is to register for an NVQ sooner than later especially if you happen to fall into the “experienced” bracket as you never know really how long these qualifications will be available.

What is clear is that the range of qualifications required to become fully qualified is actually not too clear. Three years ago the industry tried to simplify the route to becoming fully qualified by introducing the 2357 NVQ which in essence was the 2330’s, NVQ and AM2 assessment all wrapped together in 1 qualification. However it was soon apparent that this prevented a lot of people training in electrical installation because they didn’t have a work placement. As such the 2365’s were introduced and are now one of the best ways for mature students and adults who are re-training to gain a solid grounding in electrical installation and break into the industry.

As always if you are unsure of which qualifications you need, simply call us on 01293 529777 or 0800 856 4448 and we can help. We are specialists for a reason and know more than most when it comes to electrical qualifications. As always we will update you once we have more specifics on the NVQ itself.

 

Which Van Tops The List For Electricians?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 23rd June 2014

A van is an essential part of running your own electrical contracting business.  However the type of van that is used within the business is often a personal decision.   Deciding whether to own your own van or lease a van is one of the first steps to take. This week we have taken a look at what's on offer and asked you which Van Tops Your List?

And the electricians van of choice is:

Ford Transit Connect

In our survey Ford Transit Connect came out tops – and interestingly the Transit Connect was voted as the most economical van of the year in 2013.  Some electricians have had several Transit vans over the years so this is testament to their quality and reliability.

However it their is still a great buzz around the VW Transporter which is also highly coveted.

VW Transporter – Business Van of the Year 2014

The highly prized Business Van of the Year 2014, the VW Transporter, renowned for reliability, economic fuel consumption and low depreciation value has become somewhat of an icon within the electrical industry, and indeed other trades. However is this the van of the future?

Looking at some other offerings from rival van badges such as Citroen, Vauxhall and Mercedes, it will be interesting to see whether the VW will continue to be the van of choice for so many.

Vans for the future

At one time, vans were there for looks, gadgets and bravado, nowadays the practicalities of running costs, insurance and trade in values are at the forefront of decisions made over which van to purchase.

Taking a look at the latest offerings from big name brands, they are working hard to tempt tradespeople with offerings to make their lives easier.  Here are some examples:

Citroen Berlingo Full Electric

Citroen have a full electric van available.  As well as benefiting from the lowest running costs available, there is also a great Government driven package available to business drivers including subsidised or free parking, tax incentives and approved mileage allowance payments.  Having an electric van would make you money in itself as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

Mercedes Citan

If you're looking for something a bit different to the usual vans you see on the road, you'll be interested to know that Mercedes have launched a small van known as the Mercedes Citan. The level of service on offer from Mercedes outstrip rival brands and includes 24 hour servicing, on line booking and free breakdown cover.

Leasing a van?

If you're thinking of leasing, or are concerned about the cost of fitting out your van with all the racking once you've got it, then LexAutolease believe they have the answer for you. LexAutolease are working with the racking experts Tevo on launching a ready to drive van. Lease a Vauxhall or Fiat van and it will be delivered to you fully racked and ready to drive to your next job.   LexAutolease believe this will save a fifth on your company vehicle cost, and there will be no need to wait whilst the racking is fitted to your vehicle.

More about the VW Transporter?

Ah yes, we couldn't end without some thoughts from electricians of the Van of the year 2014! Stylish, good on fuel and have a reputation of lasting forever.  Certainly a van on many bucket lists amongst our survey respondents - “I'd like to end up with a vw transporter, just for the looks really” and from an owner; “I definitely feel confident this van enhances my company image”. But you can't please everyone.....

“we've had transporters in the past and although they are good looking vans we found the running costs to be too high.  Once they have been dinged by the men, they start to look the same anyway!”

The last word from a van supplier....

Our survey attracted a response from a company who supply new vans to trades people and gave us the low down on what vans are trending at the moment:

 

Citroen Berlingo Enterprise

A small van which comes with air con, sat nav and parking sensors amongst other features and is good value for the price.

 

Ford Transit Connect

A bigger van with better reliability

 

 

VW Caddy

For the badge, however there is no real difference in mileage quality between the caddy and other similar vans.

 

The Vauxhall Vivaro Sportive and Renault Trafic Sport have been the most popular panelled out vans over the last few years as they have all the extras, however recently every other enquiry has been for a Transit Custom as this has a great re-sale price, but is quite basic in terms of features.  If you are looking for features, you'll need to go up the range possibly to the Transit Limited.

If you are hoping to get your hands on a VW Transporter, it is recommended that you lease this van as it has a very expensive list price.  It is the van that many trades people aspire to and has a great residual value.

With all this on offer, you'd be easily forgiven for thinking you're the only sparks on the planet to still be driving around in a Peaugeot Partner! Not so, there are many sparks in the same boat, and whilst these new vans are a great carrot dangler, they still remain a pipe dream for many! Well....maybe you are thinking of going for one of Lex Autoleases fully kitted out vans – we like the sound of those – let us know how you get on!

 

England vs Uruguay Permutations - When Will It End?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 19th June 2014

So as you may know we have some great offers on whilst England remain in which a mathematical chance of winning the cup. However with our defeat to Italy in the first round of games and Costa Rica's surprise win when will this offer run out?

Here are some variations to consider:

England win their next 2 matches

Nice and simple we are straight through to the knock out stages and we are all happy. But are we? It is possible even if we win our next two games there’s a slight chance that if Costa Rica beat Italy, and then Italy beat Uruguay, that England, Italy and Costa Rica would be tied on six points. 

In this situation goal difference would come into play and the two teams with the greatest goal difference would go through.

England beat Uruguay and draw with Costa Rica

Beating Uruguay would almost guarantee they will be out of the tournament. But if we draw with Costa Rica then we need to ensure we have a better goal difference than them as we could be tied on points. However if we don't win our next two games it comes down to goals difference and other results for England to go through. In term of our offer we will still be in it until the next round of games.

England draw with Uruguay and beat Costa Rica

If England draw with Uruguay and then beat Costa Rica we will be relying on Italy to win all their games in order to move onto the next round. But again we will be relying on other results!

England Lose to Uruguay but beat Costa Rica

As crazy as it seems we can still go through if we lose tonight but still beat costa Rica. However it is only possible if Italy win all their games leaving England, Costa Rica and Uruguay all tied on 3 points. Then again it would come down to goal difference.

What does this mean for our 3 Lions Offer?

Well simply put don't hang about. If England lose tonight chances are that the offer will end tomorrow night once Italy have played. If we win that would be brilliant and the offer will still be at least until we next play. 

Looking at the permutations above what is clear is that goals could make a real difference in our group so we need to go all out and win big. Will Rooney and Sturridge tunr up? I bloody well hope so! Come on England! And come on Italy too!

 

Paul Predicts World Cup Scores

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 17th June 2014

Every company has their resident football experts and here at Trade Skills 4U one staff member stands head and shoulders above the rest. Paul works as a course advisor here at Trade skills 4U and his football knowledge is exceptional. As such we have asked him to put his money where his mouth is and predict the scores for the remaining matches.

Every day Paul will be predicting the scores to the matches that afternoon and evening. His initial predications are below, however to continue following his wisdom you simply need to follow our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages.

So to get us off the mark Paul's predications are for today (17/06/2014) are:

Belgium 3  / Algeria 0

Brazil  3 / Mexico 1

Russia 2 / Korea Republic 1

Paul is an avid Newcastle United fan and we also have Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester united fans here in the office leading to a lot of banter. So it is nice for a change for us all unite to support our national team.

Just in case you missed it we are currently offering up to £150 off some of our courses in support of the England football team. To see more on our 3 Lions Offers visit this page.

Obviously if you take on Paul's predications and win some money then you can put that towards the cost of your course too. However we accept no liabililty for any bets made as a result of his tips.

 

Categories: world cup

Growing Problem of Counterfeit Electrical Components

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 13th June 2014

We previously blogged about the issues with couterfeit electrical products such as televisions, chargers and computer equipment being branded as fake electricals and sold on line and on the high street often replicating the real thing.

Looking deeper into the problem

Producers of counterfeit electrical products do not just stop at well known electrical items.  In fact replicas of well known electronic products is only just scratching the surface of electrical counterfeiting.  Electrical components such as MCBs, RCDs and other wiring accessories make up the main haul of counterfeit products intercepted by anti-counterfeiting officials.  Since 2000 the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers' Association (BEAMA) anti-counterfeiting campaign has seen 15 million products seized by officials, the majority of which appear to be manufactured in China.

 

Calls for electricians to be vigilant

With electrical components being the main counterfeit problem, the electrical industry is asking electrical contractors to be more vigilant when purchasing materials from various outlets including local wholesalers and on line retailers.  Counterfeit electrical products are not tested for safety and have not been manufactured to any standard or quality control – factors that genuine manufacturers take very seriously by investing extensively into product development and the relevant electrical standards tests.

Counterfeit MCBs and RCDs are particularly hard to spot as they are often branded with a well known names, the outer casing appears identical to the genuine product even carrying certification marks and the same packaging. It is only on inspection of the inside do they reveal a very dangerous metal connection input to output and no actual mechanism at all meaning they will not perform their role.  Counterfeit MCBs fitted to consumer units will not activate in the event of a power overload.

Furthermore RCDs have been found that do not comply with the latest standards, in particular the new Electro Magnetic Capability (EMC) standards which ensures that RCD's continue to work even when there are high levels of sensitive electrical equipment which have been known to have an effect on the reliability and functionality of an RCD.  Furthermore a small but highly significant change to the RCD manufacturing process includes the addition of an adjustable cable clamp that assists electrical contractors when installing the RCD allowing the cable to be adjusted so it is secure and ensures the cable cannot work loose over time.

Spotting counterfeit products

In the majority of cases, counterfeit electrical products are sold at a much lower price than would be expected for a branded product.  If you are offered electrical components at a price that just seems too good then there is a reasonable possibility that you are being offered counterfeit electrical products.

To avoid such situations occurring, it is recommended to purchase materials at manufacturer approved suppliers or established on line outlets.  Such merchandisers purchase directly from manufacturers and are less likely to inadvertently purchase products from dubious or unknown sources.

Purchasing counterfeit products is highly dangerous and illegal.  Unfortunately counterfeit products can still slip the net no matter how conscientious the supplier is.

How electricians can help

The electrical industry is calling upon electrical contractors to be more aware of the safety requirements when they select materials.  Rather than simply accept products over the counter, electricians are being encouraged to ask for proof of compliance and legitimacy before purchasing products by checking for the latest BS and EN standards.  Whilst many products purchased at the local wholesaler can appear generic, it is essential not to overlook safety and risk purchasing counterfeit products that could endanger life.

The rising problem of counterfeit products can only reduce if electrical contractors insist on genuine certified products which in turn will reduce temptation by suppliers to purchase electrical products from unverified sources.

The electrical industry needs to work together in an effort to stop counterfeit products reaching households and address the growing problem of counterfeiting by squeezing the supply chain.  Squeezing the supply chain will affect those supplying the dangerous products in the first place.  By reducing their financial gains, they will lose interest and move on.

 

Meeting the skills demands of the recovery – construction sector growth fuels needs for installers

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 6th June 2014

In January this year we reported that the construction industry was seeing a return to growth and that 2014 was going to be the best year seen since 2009 when the economic downturn began. We identified that growth would be seen in retail and offices with other commercial sectors such as hotels and leisure seeing larger growth than has been seen in recent years.

This article will see us exploring further the return to growth of the construction industry and how this will impact on electricians themselves – particularly commercial electricians who should be seeing an increase in demand for their skills.

2014 so far – is construction growth going according to plan?

Glenigan, the construction industry intelligence specialists closely monitor construction industry growth and as such are able to identify which market sectors are performing strongly and which are lagging behind.  Glenigan have just issued a quarterly report in April 2014 to confirm that the construction industry as forecast back in January – is on the up.  In fact Glenigan report that confidence in the construction industry is is ballooning as growth in both the office sector – and interestingly housing has continued into the first quarter of 2014.

Office projects up by 34 per cent

As forecast, office projects are the strong performers – they are actually the strongest performer amongst construction projects with numbers of office projects beginning on site rising by 34% on the figure from this time last year.  Closely behind is retail which is up by 28% with hotels and leisure up by 15% from one year ago.

The Glenigan Index, shown below shows construction industry growth over the last year.  The figures are showing strong growth and show significant growth in the month of March to that of March 2013.

Source: www.architectsjournal.com

Private housing also a key driver of increasing construction activity

Housing had been expected to fall this year, however the demand for private housing is rising sharply and is evidenced by strong project starts during the first quarter of 2014.  However, as expected demand for social housing is starting to decline along with other public sector projects such as education, health and community projects.

Private sector demand outstripping the public sector

Projects reliant on public money are now starting to drop off, however the commercial sectors in particular are seeing positive growth.  Private firms and developers are more confident about putting money into construction.

This is leading to increased demand for both domestic and commercial installers as opportunities to work on these new projects grows.  However despite the great news and future outlook, there still remains the issue of a diminishing skill set within the construction industry as the numbers of skilled installers continue to drop.

The lack of skilled electricians and trades people could affect the return to growth

In October 2013, we reported that an ageing workforce could lead to a shortage of electricians.  Whilst we may not have reached those crisis levels yet, the article would not have taken into account the 'ballooning growth' in the construction industry.  If the construction industry continues to grow at the current rate (which is likely) it will be an impossible task to feed the demand for qualified electricians and installers on the up and coming new projects.

Of course, these opportunities present fantastic news for new entrants and trainee electricians entering the electrical industry, however there is a vastly increasing need for further qualified electricians to satisfy the current and future demands within the construction industry.

Finding the right electricians to move forward

Naturally, we understand that figures can be different to what goes on in reality so we spoke to an experienced electrical engineer who carries out work on commercial projects.  He told us that there are many projects going on in the London area at the moment.  One of the main ways companies tender for works and thereby satisfy the demand for electricians has had to change.

How major companies tender for such works

The way that major companies tender for works has changed in recent years.  In the past, such companies had their own 'in house' electricians.  Nowadays, the norm is to sub-contract electricians.

This opens up a whole wealth of opportunity for newly qualified electricians entering the industry to gain work and bolster their experience.  There is likely to be increasing opportunities for long term sub contracting work in key city locations for the foreseeable – and also longer term future.