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Case Study - Alex Pentecost

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 30th July 2015

We were delighted to meet up with Alex Pentecost today, we interviewed him back in March whilst he was studying our C&G 2365 Diploma Course, as part of a campaign around national apprenticeship week. He was looking for work at the time and we were profiling great candidates on our website to try and assist them with their search. We caught up with him once he returned for his 2394/95 this week, three months after completing his course.

When we interviewed Alex originally we were blown away with his professionalism and we wanted to help him find work in the industry, we kept in contact with him and he’s now successfully gained employment with HMC Electrical, hear what he had to say:

Name: Alex Pentecoste
Age: 35
Location: Kent
Which courses did you take with us?

C&G 2365 Level 2 & 3 Diploma & C&G 2394/2395 Course Package

When did you take the course?

Finished the 2365 in February 2015

How did you find the course at our centre?

I enjoyed working two weeks on two weeks off, and the intensive format for the course, my tutor Phil was a great, he had a great teaching style, he wanted you to say the answer rather than telling you the answer which means you’re more likely to pay attention rather than information just being given to you. My wife is a teacher and she is all for this style of teaching in her classes.

What type of work were you doing before training?

Previously I worked in the aviation industry, I decided to re-train after being made redundant, a friend of mine working at Heathrow recommended your training centre to me, he successfully became an engineer in the new terminal 5 building at Heathrow, he works maintaining the baggage reclaim belts.

How long have you been working in the electrical industry now?

2 months

What were your key goals when initially training with Trade Skills 4U?

My initial goal was to get into inspection and testing, I didn’t want to go and work in the domestic sector.

What would you say to someone thinking about training with Trade Skills 4U?

Yes I would definitely recommend to a friend, from the front of house to the tutors, the staff are really friendly, I liked the intensive nature of the course, it meant I could get my qualifications quickly and get out working as soon as possible, and after being made redundant this was important to me and my small family.

How long did it take you to find work after our course?

HMC – employed me three weeks after leaving the centre. I started off as an electricians mate, and after 4 weeks, I requested to be given my own van and tools, two days later they gave it to me. I’m now out working on my own. I get a list from head office, jobs mainly in the commercial or industrial sectors, they could be a day job, or last a few weeks, we’ve recently been working at Greenwich university. I like that my days are planned and I’m not out there scrimping and scraping for work.

What are you planning on doing in the future?

I would like to come back and do the 2396 eventually, possibly in the next five years when I’ve got a bit more experience under my belt, this was the assignment I enjoyed the most whilst on the course.

Anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank you personally for helping me get the job if it wasn’t for you pestering HMC to get me in for an interview I wouldn’t have got the job in the first place, I really appreciate your help and I’m very thankful for Trade Skills 4U.




Cool And Funny T Shirts for Electricians

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 23rd July 2015

trendy male model

Maybe you want to make your customers smile? Maybe you want to buy a gift for a sparky mate? Whatever the reason we have put together a blog post of the coolest and funniest electrician’s t-shirts. Some of these are guaranteed to get those heads turning.

This could be your new uniform perhaps? Or a better way to advertise your skills when you are off duty!

Again we wouldn’t charge you for using one of these brilliant ideas. We hope you enjoy this post as much as we did putting it together. Check out some of these cool T-Shirts below:

1. Electricians are the true craftsman on-site.

electrician are craftsman Tshirt

2. Electrician’s are awesome! 

electricians are awesome

3. How many of you can relate to this one? 

misspelt t shirt good at maths


4. Simply the best! 


worlds best electrician t shirt


5. This is good one for domestic electricians!

keep calm im an electrician tshirt


6. Who wants this for their wife? 

electrician wife t shirt


7. A great hoodie to stop your girlfriend stealing yours? 


keep calm and love an electrician


8. Who wants their partner to where this at 8 months?

the electrician did it


9. For all those sisters out there, Amen! 


finest women become electrical engineers tshirt


10. For those trendy electricians?

ee-lek-trish-uhn tshirt


11. The powerful T for a powerful electrician!


a powerful ohmmm


12. Just because!

i work with strippers tshirt



13. Electrician, fixing what your husband broke! 


electrician fixing what your husband broke


14. Who’d consider themselves as a genius? 


electrical genius

If you like any of these ideas there are loads of T-Shirt printing companies who can make the perfect T-Shirt for you, your company or your friends.

Win A Brother Label Printer Worth £45

Let us know which one was your favourite, or share your hilarious t-shirt on our Facebook page, or on twitter, we will share the funniest one we get sent. Whoever sends us the funniest one will win a Brother E100VP Label Printer worth £45. 

Please get your entries to us by Monday 1st September 2015 to be in for the chance of winning a brand new Brother printer.





10 Second Survey: Are You Ready for the Changes to BS7671 17th Edition Amendment 3?

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 22nd July 2015


Please take our 10 second survey on the changes to BS7671, are you ready for these all important changes, have you bought yourself a new copy of the book? We're really interested to hear from you. 



If you you have answered no to having a book, you buy one from us here at Trade Skills 4U, please call 01293 529 777, postage and packing charges will apply. And if you're unsure of the changes you can watch this helpful video/slideshow here. 



Domestic Installer Workshop (C&G 4141-01) Review

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 21st July 2015

Course: Domestic Installation Workshop

Duration: 5 days

Qualification: Electrical Installations Work within a Domestic Dwelling

So recently I attended the first week of our Bronze Domestic Installer course (C&G 4141-01) which is a practical training week. If you want to know more about the course then read on. Be aware this post is coming from someone who has never worked on a site, picked up a tool or even tinkered with the electrics at home. You know this should be an interesting read.

This was certainly going to be a challenging week for me or the tutor who decided to take me on, thankfully Doug immediately put me at ease. Being a 28 year old female this made me the second youngest in the class, the rest were in their forties or above, some had years of experience in a trade perhaps not electrics, but they’ve used tools before, as a chippie, a mechanic, working as a handyman, kitchen fitter, plumber, or an electrical apprentice, and lastly a property developer who wanted to save money. Then there is little old me who has never used a screwdriver, snippers (I mean wire cutters) and wire strippers, this was a whole new world to me, I might have put up a picture up, with a hammer and nail at most but that is it!

Therefore if I can make it through this course and pass, then anyone can, on my first day I cut my hand on those nasty “snippers”, I was covered in bruises which I still can’t explain. It’s the classic phrase of pen pusher turned tradesman and I couldn’t be prouder to make it out alive, let alone with a qualification in domestic installation. I will be tinkering at home with my electrics before you know it! Watch this space Trade Skills 4U, coming soon: “Superb Sparky - The Current Specialist”, with a 10 rating on Checkatrade. Perhaps not, but we can all dream can’t we.

The classroom for the 4141-01 is designed with practical teaching in mind. It is a dual purpose classroom with seating in the middle for looking at teaching slides and bays around the outside with consumer units from which you can then build your installations.

Myself and my classmates couldn’t quite believe what was achievable during the course, we learnt how to wire up two plug sockets, a spur, two light switches, a fan assisted switch, and a cooker switch all within just a few hours of class time.

On day one we wired up two plugs, and two lights. These were all connected in the consumer unit either to the Neutral bar, the earth bar or the live bar. You’ll learn quickly the different ways to test your wiring. Would you believe it, if I said that you’d be given a test sheet at the beginning of the day, and by the end of the day you would have filled this in correctly? The class had managed to wire up all of that into a consumer unit and make it work. Well I couldn’t. It was testament to the tutor and the teaching of course.

After the initial build we had to check our connections using a KewTech KT35 testing meter, you can download the test sheet here, filling in the form correctly is hugely important because it’s a legal document. As Doug explained this shows that when you left the property the electrics were working correctly.

Day two we tested our connections. I had some high readings on my circuits. This could have been for a number of reasons either the insulation around the conductor was touching the metal plate in the socket or the sockets themselves were damaged in some way. Once we’d figured out if the wiring needed adjusting. We were swiftly asked to wire up an intermittent switch on to the lighting circuit, this meant you could operate the same lights from various switches. You might see this in your hallway or landing.

Day three early on in the morning we were asked to wire up a cooker switch. This involved using three coil wire, this wire is very thick and hard to strip especially for a novice like me! Once we’d completed this, we filled out our test sheets, including all the final stages of testing to ensure the consumer unit can be powered up safely.

Day four we wired up a fan and fan assisted switch, these were attached to the lights meaning you could turn the fan on without the lights. As Doug explained these are normally used in bathrooms without windows or sufficient ventilation. During the build Doug’s attitude is, it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, because you learn from them, and he preferred that they happened in the classroom rather than anywhere else.

Here’s a diagram of everything wired up week one, once this was completed it was time to take it down in preparation for assessment day.

diagram of what you need to wire up in week one

The final day of the domestic installer workshop, was assessment day, you have four hours to complete an installation, inspect and test your work. If you complete this correctly you’ll pass. The pressure was on. Upon entering the classroom on assessment day you can certainly feel the tension in the air. To be told you are  not allowed to talk about your work (was like being back at school) I had to consciously think about this at regular intervals throughout the day. Four hours is plenty of time. I decided to take my time during the assessment, because throughout the week, I had a couple of occasions where my wiring was too short and had to make last minute adjustments. I took my time measuring everything correctly to ensure each wire wasn’t too short to make a good connection.

All in all, the course was thoroughly enjoyable, from getting to know my fellow students and their reasons for taking the course, many of the students had decided to have a change of career after working in a different trade.

One thing that stood out was just how knowledgeable our tutor was. He used real life examples during class and broke everything down into bite size chunks, making it fun whilst we learnt. It’s easy to fall behind when you’re not paying attention because it’s very fast paced. It’s an intensive course, similar to taking one years worth of driving lessons in just one week!

To find out course availability please visit the course page, many people book this course as part of the Bronze domestic installer package, where you’ll also gain the following qualifications in; 2393 Part P building regulations, 2392-10 Inspection & Testing Course, and the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations (including the latest amendments), this will enable you to become fully qualified domestic electrician in just 18days. 

4141-01 certificate






Andrew Codling - Case Study

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 17th July 2015

Today we caught up with Andy Codling after spending a week with him on the 4141-01 Domestic Installer course, we wanted to find out his motivations for studying at Trade Skills 4U. 

Name: Andy Codling
Age: 43
Location: Kent, Maidstone
How did you hear about us?

I started my search by looking on the internet, I did a Google search, and Trade Skills 4U came at the top of my search results.

I decided to go with you over a different provider because the website is very professional and the location was an important factor for me.


Which course are you studying at Trade Skills 4U?

Green Domestic Installer Course


What are the dates of your course?

My course runs 4 weeks consecutively, then I am returning mid-August for the solar power section of the course.

How are you finding the course at our centre?

Yes really good, it’s been really helpful, all the tutors I’ve met so far have been really good, they’re very talented and always go out of their way to make sure they help each every student. On a heavy week like Part P where there is lots of theory, it’s nice to have a jovial atmosphere in the classroom, the tutor made it fun for us whilst we’re learning or it could have become very heavy going.

What type of work were you doing before training?

Managing an accelerometer calibration lab – we calibrate devices used on aircraft, automotive, space craft and many other applications to measure vibration. My job was to certify them and ensure they were working correctly. I got made redundant from them on the 29th May, they had decided to move their offices to North Wales, they gave me the choice to move with them or take a volunteered redundancy, as my wife owns her own hair salon here we decided we had too many ties to leave, therefore my old employers paid for the course as part of my redundancy package.

What work are you intending on carrying out after the course?

I am actually thinking about setting up a training and consultancy firm, similar to what I was doing before, but that is my long term goal, because I have an electronic and electrical background anyway, I thought if I could do this for my bread and butter money that would keep me ticking over until my business gets off the ground, it might take a few years to get going, so until that’s established I will be doing property maintenance, a few hours at a time, maybe not a full re-wire but small jobs to keep me going.

How long since you last studied?

I did a masters degree in 2007, this was an online course whilst working full time job, with two children the masters was in information technology, I also studied electrical, electronic engineering at university and college. I also taught myself software design at my previous company were most of the software was designed by me.

What difference will this course make to your career?

All the tips you gain from Doug on the course are really helpful, it’s really handy to know all the tricks of the trade and Doug teaches you the correct way to do everything which means not only are you learning but your learning how to install correctly and to the industry standards. I wanted to gain my qualifications, get my part p building regulations qualifications and get out working as soon as possible.

What type of work are you now doing?

Contracting for my old firm a few days here and there.

What would you say to someone thinking about training with Trade Skills 4U?

Definitely choose Trade Skills 4U, the facilities are really good and a lot better than some of the places I’ve been too, sometimes the parking is tight, but if you get here early which I normally do you’re fine.

What are you planning on doing in the future?

I would like to get my training company up and running and keeping my hand in electrics in the meantime, even at the weekends if people need work doing I would be more than happy to help where I can to make sure I put my qualifications to good use.

How did you find having me as your classmate?

Nah its cool, it’s nice to see the staff getting involved!

Would you encourage more women coming into the trade?

I don’t see why it should be a male orientated environment…




Categories: case study

Van leasing – contract hire vs finance lease. What is the best option for electricians?

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 6th July 2015

A van is an essential item for a self-employed electrician.  What type of van you get will involve a fair amount of research and the pros and cons of monthly payments as against owning your own van.  A new van will set you back a fair chunk of money and unless you have several thousand pounds floating around in your bank account, chances are, you'll end up with an older van which could become costly in terms of maintenance, tax and even reliability. You need to be able to trust your van to get you to and from jobs reliably.

An old van can give also give the wrong impression to customers – a nice well kept van gives a professional appearance and in many cases can actually save you money.

Leasing a van is generally hassle free so long as you meet the monthly payments and don't exceed mileage agreements.  Every 3 years on average you can get your hands on a brand new van that won't depreciate year on year and without the hassle that ownership brings.

With many lease options out there, it can be confusing to know which deal really is a good one.  We're not going to tell you how to spot a good deal – we're pretty confident you can take care of that yourself.

Clue yourself up on lease options before you start

Many people assume that lease contracts are the same and only concern themselves with the bottom line. However, there are two different types of lease options and as electricians, this is pretty essential 'must know' stuff.

The two options are contract hire and finance lease.  Both types seem to mean not a lot on paper but upon delving a little further into the options, there are financial implications that could affect you as an electrician.

Contract hire

By far the most common form of lease agreement is contract hire.  This is where you pay a set monthly fee for the van and this covers use of the van up to an agreed mileage allowance, tax and often maintenance and breakdown cover leaving you with peace of mind when driving your van.

Providing the van is returned without damage at the end of the lease there should be no problems.

It is easy to think you have spotted a great deal and signed up without knowing about a lesser well known option that could actually reward you financially.

Finance lease

Finance lease is designed for those who work in occupations which involves more practical use of the van where there is a chance damage could be caused.  However, demonstrate good use of the van and you could be quids in.

Finance lease is similar to contract hire in that you pay an agreed monthly fee and have all the benefits you would expect in a contract hire arrangement.

The difference is what happens at the end when the van is sold.  If the company is able to sell for a higher price due to a better condition or lower mileage then you receive the difference.  Another option is to purchase the vehicle at a bargain purchase price – so it good be used as an economic way to acquire a vehicle if you didn't want to commit to years of leasing a van.

What is the best option for electricians?

Not every electrician is going to run their van into the ground.  With finance lease you have far more control over how you manage your van and will reap the benefits over the longer term.  With the more common contract hire, you are simply paying for the privilege of looking after your van for which you will receive no reward at the end of the lease.

Finance lease wins the day – at least from out point of view anyway!






Two-thirds of students studying STEM at university said their course did have value for money

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 3rd July 2015

We stumbled across some interesting research from ComRes who spoke to 1000 students due to complete their university degrees in 2015; they all started after the rise in tuition fees in 2012 and as such value for money is now more crucial than ever. Interestingly the research found that just over half of the students felt the course had been good value for money, however there was a clear increase in satisfaction in the Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

Only 52% said their courses were value for money

Over two thirds of STEM students said the investment was worth while

Only 44% of humanities and social science students felt their courses had value for money

A small minority said they would take a different subject

Only 3% said they’d change university if faced with the decision again.

With tuition fees for university now on average £9,000 per year this leaves the consumer, i.e. the student wondering where this money is going. There was a clear divide which showed STEM students were generally much happier than those in other areas. We believe this is because those subjects require more specialist facilities, more contact time with teaching staff and have clearer career prospects at the end of the course. Students also gain much clearer skill sets that can be applied to a wide range of technical jobs.

It has been noted that for some subjects such as humanities students were getting as little as 8 hours per week of class time, which was raising a few eyebrows. With such a disparity between contact and teaching times it is surprising that there is not a bigger difference between course fees too.

What is clear is that now students are paying for their courses there are much higher expectations and generally students are studying courses which are much more likely to result in skills that will be in demand and much more likely to secure a job in their chosen field.

Nick Hillman commented on 5 live Breakfast that

“Students paying £9,000 expect a lot more from their education; students are choosing degrees more obviously linked to jobs.”

Nicola Dandridge chief executive of Universities UK, has said that; "The shift in England from public funding to increased fees means that students are understandably, and rightly, demanding more from their university courses. Universities are responding to this and are also improving the amount of information to students about courses to ensure that their experience matches their expectations.”

Here at Trade Skills 4U we know only too well that we must deliver value for money. As a private training provider we are always completely accountable to our students. Interestingly we have always monitored customer feedback on every course and ask every student for feedback on their course. This practice is standard practice amongst private training companies but none of us in the office have ever provided any feedback on any of our degrees.

We have seen an increase in recent times of students choosing to train with us as opposed at a college or university. For those deciding to study our most comprehensive course (2365 C&G L2 & 3) you will work two weeks on two weeks off, with contact time during the week Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm, and most importantly you only pay £7,490 for your qualification, you’ll be finished in a third of the time and you can still work around your training. This route is preferable for those returning to their studies at a later age, we appeal to more mature students, this might not have been your choice at 18 years old, but certainly if your re-training or changing your career the quicker you can gain you qualifications the sooner you can start earning money.

What is clear is if you are looking to get value for money for your training then choosing to train as an electrician with us is a highly preferable option compared to many traditional routes.

If you would like to enquire, you can contact us on the phone; 0800 856 4448, Via email; info@tradeskills4u.co.uk, Facebook; facebook.com/tradeskills4u twitter; twitter.com/tradeskills4u.








17th Edition Amendment 3 - What You Need To Know

Posted by Andy Hay-Ellis on 1st July 2015

** Please note that the 17th Edition was replaced in July 2018 by the 18th edition. Visit our 3 Day 18th Edition Course page for more info.**

The six months transitional period from the Green book to the Yellow book is over! From 1st July 2015 BS7671 17th Edition Amendment 3 must be used for the design of electrical installation. So apart from a colour change to the cover and a change in the numbering system, what things should we have implemented by now?

Fire Safety.

The headline grabbing changes were those introduced for fire safety and after consultation with the Fire Brigade.

421.1.201 requires that within domestic dwellings switchgear assemblies including consumer units have their enclosure manufactured from non-combustible material or be enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed of non-combustible material. Steel is an example of non-combustible material and most manufacturers of consumer units have adopted this method of compliance. However, this does not get implemented until January 2016 so more on this in a later blog.

521.11.201 requires that wiring systems within escape routes shall be supported so that they are not liable to premature collapse in the event of fire. This precludes the use of non-metallic cable clips, cable ties or cable trunking as the sole means of support, so yes we still can use plastic trunking conduit but not as the sole support. Manufacturers therefore have started to produce metal cable retaining clips for use inside plastic trunking and stainless steel cable ties are available for use with cable tray.

Reduction in maximum Earth Fault Loop Impedances.

Amendment 3 introduced Cmin which is the minimum voltage factor to take account of voltage variations depending on time and place, changing of transformer taps and other considerations. For a public supply in the UK, Cmin will be 0.95 of the declared voltage. This has therefore resulted in a reduction in all maximum earth fault loop values. Time to throw away those old tables!

RCD Protection of Socket Outlets

We have all got used to the requirements for RCD protection of socket outlets in domestic dwellings but what about commercial / industrial? Reference to the use of socket outlets by ordinary persons in 411.3.3 has been removed and there is now a requirement that a 30 mA RCD be used to protect socket outlets up to 20A for ALL installations, including commercial / industrial The exception to this for a specific labelled socket outlet remains and a further exception, which is not applicable to domestic dwellings, is made where a documented risk assessment determines that RCD protection is not necessary. The exception for an installation ‘under the control of a skilled person’ has been removed. This is probably one area that is likely to show up time and time again on periodic inspections.

Revised Inspection and testing Documentation

Appendix 6 introduced a new Schedule of Inspections for initial verification, complete with relevant regulation numbers which is similar in layout to the one used for periodic inspection and the inclusion of the regulation numbers should make it easier to understand and complete.

The Electrical Installation Condition Report includes the requirement for inspection to be carried out in accessible roof spaces where electrical equipment is present. What sort of equipment is likely to be in roof spaces? Lights, Solar PV inverters, ventilation equipment, TV amplifiers and boosters, the list could be endless.

So apart from using revised documentation (download your version here) we should also be now be carrying out periodic inspections in line with BS 7671 17th Edition Amendment 3.

What’s next?

Well January 2016 sees the implementation of non-combustible consumer units within domestic dwellings, the IET have a number of Codes of Practice in the pipeline included one on solar PV installations and of course the 18th Edition will not be far away. Whatever happens TS4U will always keep you up to date.

If you want more detail on 17th Edition Amendment 3 then you can watch our free online seminar here:

<<< Click Here for a free online video seminar on 17th Edition 3rd Amendment >>>