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Survey Results: Which Card do you hold?

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 28th May 2015

ecs card banner


The results are in from our Survey, we asked our students which card they hold when working on site - it was no surprise that the ECS card came out as the most popular card to hold. It would make sense seeing as this is the card that electricians should be holding according to the ECS website.  31% of the electricians who responded to our survey said that they held an ECS card.

The infographic below will show you the full breakdown of our survey – thanks to everyone who took part and don't forget to add your response to this month’s survey!

Surprisingly 28% said they held neither of these cards

Interestingly not far behind, 28% of electricians said they didn’t hold an ECS or CSCS card. We would assume that this is because these guys don't work on site.  There is no need to hold a card if you’re carrying out work in domestic dwelling however you should be registered with a scheme provider such as the NICEIC. It is good practice to hold one of these cards if you plan to work on site at any point – this is because it can take a few weeks to process the card application which could lead to a delay in you starting work.  It also shows that you have the essential awareness for Health and Safety requirements – regardless of what environment you’re working in.

16% of electricians have the JIB version of the ECS card. JIB is an additional grading that electricians can add to their ECS card providing they meet the JIB criteria, if you want to find out more all these details can be found on the official ECS card website.

The verdict

It is almost impossible to gain access to a building site without being in possession of one of the trade cards mentioned in our survey.  If you want to carry out electrical work, you need to be obtaining your ECS card.

Getting recognition as an electrician whether you’re a trainee or fully fledged spark it’s important when applying for work or gain access to a building site.  For electricians, the card to hold which allows you to carry out electrical work on site is the ECS card.  Over 99,000 electrical professionals hold the ECS card. Nearly all UK employers on building sites will request to see your ECS card before offering you employment.

What is the big deal about an ECS card?

As well as proving your identity on site, the card displays your qualifications and main electrical occupation.  It also shows that you have been Health and Safety assessed which is an essential requirement when accessing a building site in any capacity and is the electrical industry’s equivalent of the CSCS card.

Despite the seemingly attractive nature of the ECS card, it receives mixed reviews because it can be difficult to obtain the 'gold' card, however once you receive this it can show your potential employers quickly that you’re a qualified electrician and safe to work on site, which makes them a very crucial proof of ID for all electricians.






10 Second Survey – Should landlords conduct electrical safety checks every five years?

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 26th May 2015

close up to wiring testing


Please take a few seconds to answer the below survey, do you think it should be mandatory for electrical safety tests to be carried out in accommodation that are rented every five years? We’re interested to hear your views on this subject.


If you would like to share your opinion with us please visit our Facebook or Twitter pages, we’d be delighted to hear from you. 


Funny tradesman van pictures!

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 22nd May 2015

funny vans

We’d like to thank everyone who sent in their photos of funny vans from around the UK and abroad, please share these on Facebook, Twitter or via email to make your friends, family and colleagues laugh.

Some of these vans are so bad, they’re funny! We certainly wouldn’t advise turning up to work in one of these… but we hope that you find them equally as amusing as we did receiving them. If you see any funny vans while you’re out and about, please share them on our Facebook page.

He wishes!

funny vans

Is it a bit nipply in here?

funny vans

Guess the sparkies name… 

funny vans

We love this!

funny vans

Pure genius! 


funny vans

Great advert for Fiat here!

funny vans

I don’t want to ride on this.

funny vans

The British are plumbing! 

funny vans

I wonder if he is still in business?

funny vans

Great name and great paint job!

funny vans

A bit cheeky.

funny vans

Boyhood dream fulfilled. Great strap line "I Pity the Stool".

funny vans

This is a local one from Brighton! He-Van Movers of the universe!

funny vans

These guys must be real heroes!

funny vans

This article shows what clever marketing can do for your business.

funny van
















If you see any more on your travels please send them in and we will publish them online.





Product Review: Draper Tools Expert Ergo Plus 9 Piece Torque Screwdriver Set

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 18th May 2015


Screwdrivers are an essential piece of kit for any electrician, however the type of screwdriver used matters a great deal and electricians generally favour one brand over another and tend to stick to it.

One of the favoured brands out there is Draper Tools who have a dedicated range of scredrivers just for electricians.  Draper screwdrivers have always been top notch (excuse the pun) and their latest screwdriver set is no exception.

Draper Expert Ergo Plus

Coming as a set of 9 screwdrivers, each screwdriver is manufactured and individually certified to EN 60900 and are the latest must have for professional electricians everywhere.

Suffer no more from annoying wrist ache from the repetitive movement of screwing and instead get the job done quicker and easier thanks to the torque controlled tightening of the screws.   Electricians who have used standard screwdrivers will know the frustration of damaged tools, screws, fixings and consumer units.  A torque controlled screwdriver is both an essential and practical requirement.

Draper Expert Ergo Plus

Not just any old torque screwdriver!

There is torque and there is the expert torque – the Draper Expert features an interchangeable torque screwdriver kit with precision torque control.  Torque settings between 1 and 5 newton metres can be set very easily by releasing the collar, twisting it to the desired setting and then clipping it back into place. When you then use the screwdriver you can feel and hear an audible click once you have reached the torque limit so you know when to stop screwing. This allows you to confidently work on consumer units or switchgear reducing without the risk of damage to the terminals terminals, arcing circuits and hot spotting – scenarios no electricians want to encounter. Perhaps most importantly, by preventing over tightening or under tightening terminal screws you can be assured you are working in compliance with the latest Wiring Regulations.

Quick and easy lock and release

Changing over the screwdriver heads could not be easier.  The set features a simple auto lock and release system that means changing the heads is effortless. Simply pull the yellow grip back and remove or add a new head. Release the grip and the head will be securely locked in place.

Fully insulated

It goes without saying that all tools used by electricians should be insulated and as expected this Draper set does not fall short of expectation.  The torque screwdriver is fully insulated allowing you to carry out work on circuits up to 1000V AC and 1500V DC. There is a very comfortable handle which not only provides great grip it is also resistant to most chemicals, oils and most solvents enabling the screwdriver to be suitable for use even in more harsh conditions.

The full kit explained

The Draper Expert Ergo kit is ready for all professional electricians to get out and about with.  There is no set up and the kit is fully compatible with all other Draper Expert range screwdrivers making the kit even more versatile.  The kit contains:

Torque screwdriver

8 interchangeable blades

Calibration certificate

Storage roll for safe and secure transportation

Fully guaranteed and perfect for electricians who work with precise installations, this is a perfect 'must have' piece of kit.




The Best Electrical & Electrician Jokes Online from TS4U

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 15th May 2015

microphone banner

If you’re looking for electrician jokes and funny electrical jokes you’ve certainly come to the right place. We have scoured the internet and quizzed our students and instructors to get a collection of the best ones around. Please feel free to share these entertaining electrician jokes with your family and friends.

Some of these jokes are so bad they are good! We’ve got some great one liners to start with and some story led jokes to finish, there should be something for everyone, and guaranteed to get you a laugh.

Have you got any electrician jokes or electrical jokes you would like to share with us? Please share your own jokes on our Facebook page!

Don’t forget all great comedians have good timing and don’t mess up the punch line, happy joke telling. Please let us know which joke is your favourite and got you the most laughs…

One liner electrician jokes: 

What is an electrician’s favourite ice cream flavour?


What is another name for an electrical apprentice?
Shock absorber

electric shock cartoon

Why are the electricians always up to date?

Because they are “current specialists”.

Why did Mr Ohm marry Mrs. Ohm?

Because he couldn’t resistor!

What kind of car does an electrician drive?

A Volts-wagon

What do you call a bad electrician?

A shock absorber!

The Atom Joke
Two atoms were walking down the street.
Atom One: Oh no - I've lost an electron!
Atom two: Are you sure?
Atom one: Yes… I'm positive.

The guy who got arrested for eating batteries…. He is to be charged in the morning.

Story based electrician jokes! 

An electrician in Heaven
A electrician dies in a fishing accident on his 40th birthday and finds himself greeted at the Pearly Gates by a brass band. Saint Peter runs over, shakes his hand and says “Congratulations!”
“Congratulations for what?” asks the electrician
“Congratulations for what?” says Saint Peter. “We are celebrating the fact that you lived to be 160 years old.”
“But that’s not true,” says the consultant. “I only lived to be forty.”
“That’s impossible,” says Saint Peter, “we added up your time sheets!”

stairs to heaven

Lost Ear Accident
Two electricians, John and Dave, were working and John up on a scaffold accidently cut off his ear.
He yelled down to Dave…”Hey! look out for my ear I just cut off!”
In a little bit Dave calls up to John, ” is this your ear?”
John looks down and says “Nah! Mine had a pencil behind it!”

Exact Words
The homeowner was delighted with the way the electrician had done all the work on his house. “You did a great job.” he said and handed the man a cheque. “Also, in order to thank-you, here’s an extra £80 to take the missus out to dinner and a movie.” Later that night, the doorbell rang and it was the electrician. Thinking the electrician had forgotten something the man asked, “What’s the matter, did you forget something?” “Nope.” replied the electrician. “I’m just here to take your missus out to dinner and a movie like you asked.”

Her Clean Floor
While electricians were working outside the old house I had just bought, I busied myself with indoor cleaning.
I had just finished washing the floor when one of the workmen asked to use the toilet.
With dismay I looked from his muddy boots to my newly scrubbed floors.
“Just a minute,” I said, thinking of a quick solution.
“I’ll put down newspapers.”
“That’s all right, lady,” he responded. “I’m already trained.”
Construction Workers Understand

clean floor

Four surgeons are discussing who makes the best type of surgery patient.
The first surgeon says, “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.” 
The second responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is colour coded.”
The third surgeon says, “No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.”
The fourth surgeon chimes in: “You know, I like construction workers ~ they seem to understand when you have a few parts left over at the end and when the job takes longer than you said it would.”

Death Row
A chemist, a biologist and an electrician were on death row waiting to go in the electric chair.  The chemist was brought forward first. “Do you have anything you want to say?” asked the executioner, strapping him in ”No,” replied the chemist. The executioner flicked the switch and nothing happened. Under State law, if an execution attempt fails, the prisoner is to be released, so the chemist was released. Then the biologist was brought forward. “Do you have anything you want to say?” “No, just get on with it.” The executioner flicked the switch, and again nothing happened, so the biologist was released. Then the electrician was brought forward. “Do you have anything you want to say?” asked the executioner. “Yes,” replied the engineer. “If you swap the red and the blue wires over, you might make this thing work.”

Strong Man on the Job
The strong young man at the construction site was bragging that he could out do anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of one of the older workmen. After several minutes, the older worker had had enough. “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is,” he said.
“I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.” 
“You’re on, old man,” the braggart replied. “Let’s see what you got.”
The old man reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles.
Then, nodding to the young man, he said, “All right, Get in.”

Applying In Person
An electrician walks onto a job site of a large company and hands the foreman his application.
The foreman begins to scan the sheet, and notices that the applicant has been fired from every job he has ever held. “I must say,” says the foreman, “your work history is terrible. 
You’ve been fired from every job.” “Yes,” says the sparky. “Well,” continues the foreman,
“there’s not much positive in that.” “Hey!” says the guy as he pokes the application. “At least I’m not a quitter.”

Why not poke fun at your fellow trades, here are some funny plumber jokes: 

Why shouldn't you play poker with a plumber?

A good flush beats a full house everytime. 

Why couldn't the plumber get a date?

Because he was a real drip. 

Why did the plumber fall asleep at work?

Because his job was draining!

What is your favourite electrician joke? Please 'share' these with your friends, and post your favourite joke on our Facebook page. 

Want to know more about Trade Skills 4U? Find out more about how we provide electrician courses for beginners and experienced electricians or simply view our all electrical courses.




A Clear Route To Industry? Domestic Electrician Apprenticeships - Opinions Please

Posted by Carl Bennett on 13th May 2015

electrician working

Read this blog and give us your opinion to be entered into our win a van competition!

We have many conversations with our thousands of contractor customers when they are here with us attending career development courses. The conversations are generally around the inability of the small contracting company (5 or less employees) being able to support an adult apprenticeship programme.  They tell us they can’t support an adult apprentice for three simple reasons:

Lengthy training programme.

High cost of training and employing  an adult apprentice.

Lack of the range of work required as evidence for the NVQ. (A Particular problem for those working in the domestic sector)

You will notice in the above list, that we are talking about adults, i.e. aged 19 plus, but more likely to be 24 plus. The most commonly offered solution by these contractors,is that the industry needs to offer a career solution that accurately reflects the workplace in 2015, a one size fits all NVQ isn’t what the small employer needs.

A 3-4 year apprenticeship of drip feed training and onsite experience is certainly appropriate for a 16-19 year old, where the general lessons of working life must also be factored into the training of an apprentice.

However for an adult wanting to join the industry, and increasingly many do, the inflexibility of the standard NVQ leads to those people seeking other routes into the industry which often leads to short cuts being taken. We all know that this is not a satisfactory solution when training the future workforce of what is, after all, a vital industry to this country.

Many contractors tell us that if the apprenticeship programme was broken down into bite size chunks, it would make it more cost effective and relevant to employers and employees alike.

The Solution - Stepping Stone Qualifications

The natural bite size chunks to us are obvious. Electricians offer their services generally into three sectors. Domestic, Industrial, Commercial. You’ll see it on the side of virtually every contractors van.

It’s our opinion, as evidenced from our customer’s comments that the NVQ should be broken down likewise. So we would suggest that the training programmes offer an NVQ for a Domestic Electrician, then perhaps if needed, progression to the full electricians to NVQ subject areas specifically covering the Commercial and Industrial sectors.

This proposal would give the flexibility to the small contractor to be able to support an adult apprentice programme, as inevitably it would be shorter (perhaps a year), and the programme would be more relevant to the actual work they do on a day-to-day basis. It is also more beneficial to the adult apprentice who could not commit to a 3-4 year apprenticeship on reduced wages.

Of course the current full NVQ would still be an option and is certainly appropriate for the young person entering the workplace for the first time, but this proposed approach with its greater flexibilitywould provide a much needed realistic training option for the small employer who frankly just wants to get on with the job, get their people trained as efficiently as they can and earn money.

Likewise if the units contained within the Technical Certificate equivalents that apply to domestic  electrical installations could be separated out and taught first, then there can be a simple and clear route into industry for all,with a clear starting point and several stopping off points.

All of this would allow new entrants the ability to qualify as a domestic electrician and then upskill to carry out commercial  and industrial installations at a later date if required.

It seems common sense to adopt this route and the industry has come close in recent times with the introduction of the “Level 3 Certificate In Installing, Testing & Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings” qualification. However the problem with this is that you still need to transfer into one of the main courses listed above to qualify as electricians. It would make more sense if everyone studying to be an electrician studied key subjects relating to domestic installations first and then had a choice on whether or not to continue studying or to start work as a domestic electrician. This would lead to much greater harmony and much less confusion both amongst the public and out there in the workplace.

So with that in mind we have decided to undertake a formal consultation process and present our findings to industry andto offer this as a training solution thus perhaps ending the years of fudge that has plagued the domestic sector.

We need your input!

There is still a long way to go, but we believe with your input we can improve this situation for the better. We are looking at this in partnership with Summit Skills and want to hear your thoughts on this. We would love to hear from anyone that has an opinion and you can express your opinions simply by completing the form below. We hope you can help positively and work with us to improve our industry

You will also be entered into our win a van competition if you complete the form below by the 31st May 2015:

If you have any trouble with the above form you can visit: http://form.jotformeu.com/form/51304411575346

We hope you can help positively.


Does a metallic cable tray require earthing or bonding?

Posted by Andy Hay-Ellis on 11th May 2015

metallic tray

A. In short the answer is 'depends' but the answer could be ‘earthing’, ‘bonding’ or ‘neither’ depending on the circumstances. Looking at each of these in turn:

1. If the tray is an exposed conductive part it requires earthing.

2. If the tray is and extraneous conductive part it requires bonding.

3. If the tray is neither of the above it requires neither earthing nor bonding.

So once again the answer comes down to the definition of ‘exposed conductive part’ and ‘extraneous conductive part’

Exposed-Conductive-Part – Conductive part of equipment which can be touched and which is not normally live, but which may become live under fault conditions.

Extraneous-Conductive-Part – A conductive part liable to introduce a potential, generally Earth potential, and not forming part of the electrical installation.

So two further questions now arise:

Q1.  Is a metallic tray an exposed-conductive-part?

Note: It should be remembered that the purpose of earthing is to provide a path for fault current to flow and operate the overcurrent protective device.

A(i).  If the tray is used as a protective conductor as allowed by 543.2.1, then yes it is and it should be earthed.

A(ii). If the tray is used to carry cables and is not used as a protective conductor two scenarios exist:

1. The cable tray carries metallic sheathed cables, such as bare micc. - In the event of a fault on the circuit the fault path will be the metallic sheath of the cable and therefore the tray is not an exposed-conductive-part and does not require earthing. If the tray was to be connected to the MET, under fault conditions the tray would only serve to distribute further any touch voltage.

2. The cable tray carries cables with a non-metallic sheath. -  In this case the cables are deemed to provide the same basic and fault protection as class II equipment (see Regulation 412.2.4.1) and as such, in the event of an insulation fault in the cable a fault current cannot flow in a conductive part and hence the tray does not require earthing.

In either of the scenarios above the tray is not required to be earthed and in some cases earthing could increase the shock risk under fault conditions.

Q2.  Is a metallic tray an extraneous-conductive-part?

Note: It is worth noting that in the definition of an extraneous-conductive-part, the word ‘Earth’ is capitalised as it is a proper-noun and therefore refers to the planet or the ground we stand on.

A. To answer this question one must ask another question; can the tray introduce a potential that does not already exist in the installation? Largely the answer to this question is no and therefore normally there is no need to connect bonding or supplementary bonding to the tray.

If the tray were to carry services into a building from outside of that building and that tray was in contact with Earth potential outside, then this potential could be introduced to the location and yes there would be a need to provide bonding.

The above would also apply to cable basket but not to metallic conduit or trunking which houses insulated cables without a outer sheath.

Further details on the above subject can be found in Section 10.11 of Guidance Note 8 published by the IET.

Published by our Director of Education - Andy Hay-Ellis

andy hay ellis





Which electrical training subject is the hardest?

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 6th May 2015

student studying

We asked 100 students which electrical training subjects they found the hardest when studying to become an electrician with us, please see the published results below:   


So why are these two subjects the hardest?

Being an electrician is one of the most interesting and challenging of the trades. It requires both hands on skill as well as some technical and mathematical aptitude. Many people love to get their hands dirty but sometimes shy away from the more theoretical side of things. However it is this blend of the two skillsets that makes becoming an electrician such an attractive prospect for many. It can challenge your mind and your body at the same time. Don't worry if you are reading this thinking can I do this? The maths and science is not that hard and essentially people just prefer to get stuck in with their hands than with their minds.

As we're the UKs number one training provider for electricians, we've assisted thousands of students gain their certificates and start their career within the electrical industry. Our talented tutors support every student, esperically through these subjects they find more difficult. This is the key to our success ensuring we have excellent pass rates across all subjects. 

We offer a wide range of electrical training courses, if you're looking for electrical courses for beginners  or if your a qualified electricial looking to top up your skills you've come to the right place please visit our course finder page to find out more information on what we can do for you. 


Using Your Enhanced Learning Credits Explained.

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 1st May 2015

army silhouette

Most people serving in the armed forces will be aware that The Ministry of Defence offer an Enhanced Learning Credit scheme to promote lifelong learning amongst members. These are very generous allowances to be used on resettlement courses for those who’ve been a member of the armed forces who’s served for four years or more, you can claim Enhanced Learning Credits from the services for up to ten years after leaving. You can only claim once a year and you can save them up for up to three years, which you don’t need to run consecutively. The credits can be used to pay for courses with registered training providers such as Trade Skills 4U but only apply to level 3 courses or above.


Are you eligible for the Enhanced Learning Credits?

Have you accumulated 4 years of service since 1 April 2000? (Entitlement: Lower Tier)

Have you accumulated 8 years of service since 1 April 2000? (Entitlement: Higher Tier)

If you were Wounded, Injured or Sick (WIS) or medical discharged before reaching the four year eligible service then you may still be eligible to claim ELCs.

Don’t worry if you do not qualify for the Enhanced Learning Credit scheme, there are other organisations for example the Royal British Legion which can sometimes help fund retraining.

The Facts

You can claim up to £1,000 (Lower Tier) or £2,000 (Higher Tier) per financial year (31st March – 1st April) towards qualifying courses

Enhanced learning credits can be used for up to 80% of a course; you have to cover the remaining 20% yourself (you can use your Resettlement Grant for this.)

You can claim 3 times (as long as they are in separate financial years.) You can use enhanced learning credits for up to 10 years from your last day of service

Enhanced learning credits can be used towards the costs of tuition fees including VAT

ELCs cannot be used towards travel, subsistence, accommodation, meals, equipment or course materials where additional fees apply.


Before deciding on learning, people should consider:

Is the course relevant to your personal development?

Are you able to complete the course?

Will this disrupt your current service?

Can you travel to the centre, will you require accommodation?

Next steps

Read JSP 898, Part 4, Chapter 3

Register for the scheme in accordance with published guidelines

Check that the course you wish to enrol on is allowable under the rules

Get the necessary approval to enrol

Talk with your line manager and education/learning staff.

students studying

Electrician Courses Part of ELC Scheme

If you’re interested in electrics and see this as a future career path, then why not use your ELC credits for electrical training courses with UKs number one training provider? You can find a full list of eligible courses here:


Here at Trade Skills 4U, the most common resettlement course taken up by ex-service men is Bronze Domestic Installer course. This course can be completed in 18 days, you’ll gain four formal City & Guilds qualifications; Electrical Installation working within a domestic dwelling, Part P Building Regulations, Inspection and Testing and the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations.

Or if you are interested in renewable energy you could take our Green – Solar PV Installer Course which will enable you to work on a real life roof to gain experience working from height. Once you’ve completed this course you will be fully qualified in solar panel installation and if you’re brand new to the industry you can take this course to become a solar panel installer, which is a growing market!

Start learning now, to make the most of your life!!

To Claim

Complete a claim form: (http://www.enhancedlearningcredits.com/Claiming/keydownloads/1%29%20ELC%20Claim%20Form.doc)

If you had a break in service you need to provide a Interrupted Service Supplementary Form

Proof of last day of service

Information about the course and proof that it is NQF or QCF and Level 3 or higher qualification

Photographic ID (passport or driving license)

Proof of home address

A daytime telephone number.

If you are no longer serving, please send your claims to the relevant contact below:

Royal Navy

FLEET FOST TA EL3R RESET SO3C, Floor 3, Leach Building, Whale Island, Portsmouth PO2 8BY

Tel: 02392 625954

Email: fleet-fost-tael3rresetso3c@mod.uk.


ELC Manager, DETS (A), Ramilles Building, Marlborough Lines, Andover, Hampshire SP11 8HJ

Tel: 07770 418788

Email: elc@detsa.co.uk.

Royal Air Force

Learning Credits Administrator, Room 227, Trenchard Hall, RAF Cranwell, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, NG34 8HB

Tel: 01400 268182

Email: 22trggp-tp-accred-so3@mod.uk.

If you are still serving, please consult the staff in your local RN Education Centre, Army Education Centre, or RAF Learning Centre.