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Kelly Vincent - Case Study

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 25th May 2017



Name: Kelly Vincent

Company: Kelly Electrics, Female Electricians Ltd

Location: London

Courses: City & Guilds 2399 Solar PV Full-8 and previously City & Guilds 2330 L2&3



We caught up with Kelly to ask her why she chose to take the 2399 Solar PV Full-8 course and to find out what made her decide to become an electrician.

Reason for Training?

I worked within the NHS in an administrative role for almost 10 years and although I enjoyed it I didn’t feel like I was being challenged enough. I moved through various different NHS Trusts and Services, but I knew I didn’t want to be stuck inside an office everyday anymore and I wanted to learn something new. I wanted a job where I could choose my hours but still earn good money, so when I spoke to my parents my dad, being a building contractor with a successful business suggested electrics or plumbing. I looked into it and thought the technical side of being an electrician appealed to me more than plumbing, so I did some research online and TradeSkills4U stood out with the best reviews. I signed up to the 2330 Level 2 & 3, which meant I would be out of work for 9 months, but it was on a 2 week on 2 week basis which allowed me to do some temp work in between. That was 8 years ago, and even though you now offer shorter courses for Domestic Installers, which would have been perfect for me, having done the full 2330 (now replaced by the 2365 Diploma) I feel I have a more rounded and thorough knowledge than some of the students doing the Domestic Installer course, so am pleased I did it.

How long have you been working in the electrical industry?

When I first qualified I wanted to get a trainee job with a company so I could learn the practical knowledge and build my confidence. I applied to British Gas, local electrical firms and big electrical companies, but no one was employing anyone at the time. I almost gave up when I got a call from a new company looking for trainees to work alongside their senior electricians. It was fate, because the job was local, the hours where perfect, and the person I was teamed up with was a brilliant teacher. 6 years later I’m confident and competent and running my own business and training other females.

Tell us about your business and the staff you employ?

I have two full-time female electricians working for me, and a long standing part-time female, who is currently in her last year at university studying Architecture. When I first became self-employed and turning up for jobs, the feedback from my clients was that they opted for me not only because of my reputation and reviews, but also because I was a female. I didn’t know if people would take me seriously being a female tradesperson, but the response has been amazing. Since then I have tried to promote and encourage women to get into the construction industry and provide opportunities for them for training.

Why did you decide to take the 2399 Solar PV course and how will this help your business?

I’ve been a domestic and light commercial electrician for 7 years, and although site work has never appealed to me I have always been interested in renewable energy. Elly joined our team almost two years ago now and she has a background in solar power and is extremely passionate about green technology. My husband and I recently bought a house and have been renovating it, I thought it was the perfect time for Elly and I to get qualified in Solar PV installation and set up a solar panel installation on the property, which we could use for our MCS installer assessment.

What other courses have you studied with Trade Skills 4U and how did these help you?

In 2009 I booked myself onto the 2330 Level 2 & 3 (now replaced by the 2365 Diploma). I was nervous driving into the training centre, and as I made my way to the classroom I could feel myself shaking and I was on the verge of walking back to my car. But when I saw the other students, looking around as unsure as I was, and the big old smile on the tutors face beckoning me in and welcoming everyone, I took a seat and very quickly felt at ease. The other students where all very friendly and supportive, interested in my choice of career change, and learning a new skill with tutors that actually care about what they’re teaching, it gave me the confidence I needed to continue my journey.

Tell us about your training experience with Trade Skills 4U?

I really enjoyed the course as a whole, the teachers were all very knowledgeable and happy to give further explanations if you didn’t understand anything. The environment was warm and peaceful, we were able to concentrate when we needed to and test conditions were all very relaxed and calming. The workshops were as realistic as they could be for a training centre, and the rooftops for the solar course were fab, although I wish we had got to spend some more time on them.

What are your plans for your business?

We have designed the installation for solar panels at the house we own, and will be installing it in the next couple of months. I’m hoping to arrange for Elly to work with a Solar PV installer working around London on new build properties, so we can gain some solid experience in commercial solar installs and how they differ to domestic ones. It’s early stages yet!

What is the best experience you have had so far in your career?

Training newly qualified women and being able to help them grow in confidence, watching them learn and improve and eventually work unsupervised is very satisfying!

Do you have any advice for other women looking to retrain as an electrician?

Do it! If you’re not shy of hard work, you can dedicate yourself to it, and if you want a job that you can feel satisfied from at the end of every day, then do it. It’s got a perfect mix of technical and physical work, full of problem solving as well as working up a sweat! I’ve never looked back.

What has your experience been like working in a typically male dominated industry?

I’ve had a really positive experience, the men I have worked with onsite have always been very respectful, interested and supportive, and I’ve never had a problem finding work. I have very loyal clients, and have managed to build a good reputation. The feedback from clients has all been really amazing, and I think women have the ability to make an impact and bring a different experience to construction work in people’s home.

What opportunities do you think there are for women working in the electrical industry?

I feel like there could be more promotion and education for girls in schools at an early stage to encourage them into the electrical industry, I don’t’ feel that girls even think of trades as an option when they’re at school. I did find it difficult to find a job as a trainee when I first started, but I have no way of knowing if it was because I was a woman, or if it was because of the recession. I like to think it was because of the recession!

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about, ie any achievements/awards etc

Women in Construction Awards 2014 Finalist

Britain’s Top Tradesman 2014 National Finalist and Highly Commended

BEST Business Women Awards 2015 – Shortlisted and Runner up

We attended a careers event at Preston Manor School in 2014 for the ‘Challenging Perceptions of Women’s Work’ for year 8 students

We wish Kelly the very best of luck for the future and hope her business continues to thrive.

If you are interested in any of the courses mentioned in this post please visit our Course Finder page.

Categories: qualifications, female electrician, employment, case study

10 Second Survey: How often should you have your test meter calibrated?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 18th May 2017

A question that we are often asked, is 'How often should I calibrate my meter equipment?' To ensure traceability to national standards, all testing equipment needs to be tested on a regular basis, but how often should that be?

By taking our 10 second survey you will be entered into a prize draw, and one lucky winner will be presented with a CalCard worth £30. 

The results of the survey will be published in June 2017 and the lucky winner will be notified by email or phone.

Categories: 10 second survey

Want your voice heard in the industry? Join our Focus Group

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 17th May 2017

Small Employer Electrical Focus Group, what is it, why is it needed, what are the benefits?

Register your interest via the form at the end of this post

Small Business Focus Group

Are you a small business working in the electrical sector who feels that your voice isn’t heard when decisions are being made in the industry that affect you? If you are, then read on, as this could be the perfect opportunity for you to get involved in a new venture to get the voice of the small business heard.

What is it?

Our aim is to put together a Focus Group made up of small businesses and trainees working in the electrical industry. We are looking for approximately 10 people to meet once a quarter to represent the employees and employers of small businesses and the self-employed worker in the electrical sector.

The group will be guided by a director from Trade Skills 4U, and its intention is to listen to the opinions of the group, and gather information which can be used to influence future decision making around the electrical industry, ensuring that future training and qualification changes represent what the industry really needs.

We will provide the venue and supply the food and drink. You will also realise some other benefits too (see below)

Why is it needed?

It’s hard to believe that even though the electrical industry comprises of 90% of small businesses, it’s the 10% of larger businesses that have the most influence when decisions are being made regarding the skills needed for the industry, to ensure that the workers are competent. This seems to be unbalanced when you consider that the majority of the larger firms don't actually do the work themselves as they use sub-contractors to carry out an installation.

We believe that the small businesses should have a bigger voice when decisions are made, which is why we are interested in forming this Focus Group. We intend that the group will be in a position to voice its opinions regarding training needs and reactions to specific industry related issues around qualification content and regulatory changes, with the intention that the views of the group will be considered to help influence the decision making and development needs of the sector.

What’s the benefits?

By being part of this Focus Group we will give you the inside track regarding what’s happening in the industry. Plus we will share with you up-to-date information about forthcoming changes to regulations and qualifications . We will also be able to offer some other benefits including:

Having a voice in the future of your industry

Discounted Training

Discounted Course Books

Discounted Test Equipment

Assistance with recruitment of trainees and experience staff

All we would ask from you is to make a commitment to attend a meeting once a quarter, where you will be able to voice your opinions regarding what you think is needed to make the industry better by training more people with the right skills to ensure they are competent in their work and to allow small employers to grow their business. We are keen to hear from:

Self employed electricians (1 man bands)

Company with 2-5 employees

Companies with 5-10 employees

Trainees and Apprentices from the above groups

Why Us?

As the UK’s leading electrical training company, we have been representing the interests of the thousands of customers who have walked through our doors for many years. We have been involved in the development of new qualifications, writing of course books and even provided evidence to Government on behalf of our customers. We already have close ties with accrediting bodies and industry bodies but our voice will be stronger with your help.

If you think this is something you would be interested in, we would love to hear from you. Please call 01293 529777 or email elaine.hammond@tradeskills4u.co.uk, or fill in the form and we will get back to you.


Categories: see focus group

University v Electrical Training - why it makes sense to get a trade

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 11th May 2017

University v Electrical Training

University changes, costs and why it makes sense to get a trade

What advice would you to give a young person who is considering which study route to go down? Should they go to university or college, learn a trade from a professional training company or find an employer who will support them through an apprenticeship; and would their decision take into account the costs involved?

With many construction workers set to retire in the coming years and with the increase in young people choosing to go to university over learning a trade, the UK is in danger of having a shortage in skilled tradesmen. Therefore, here at Trade Skills 4U we believe that now is the perfect time to consider starting a career in the electrical sector. Also, the benefits of being an electrician is that it’s considered to be one of the cleanest trades in the industry that also tends to pay the best.

It’s predicted that in the coming years only a third of new jobs will be high-skilled roles for graduates, yet with university attendance set to increase further following the government’s removal of the cap on university places, the threat of a skills mismatch looming in the UK labour market starts to become apparent.

With this in mind, the information below gives an overview of what it could cost a person to train depending on which route they take, and also what they could expect to earn on completion of their training.

University versus Trade

Many young people considering learning a vocational qualification are often put off by society’s bias towards university.

If you have a specific career in mind which demands a degree, then the university route is of course the right choice for you. However, for those that choose to go to University with no specific career in mind might believe that when they graduate doors will automatically open for them when applying for jobs, but they may wish to consider that this may not necessarily be the case.

In fact research shows that 16,730 university graduates were out of work six months after leaving university as reported by The Telegraph in 2015. And 60,000 were working in ‘non-professional’ roles such as customer service and administration.

In comparison, when we ran a student survey here at Trade Skills 4U to find out how many of our students found work after their course, we found that an impressive 87.8% found employment on completion of studying their C&G 2365 Diploma course.

Student debt

The University route: Currently the average graduate will earn about £22K in their first year. Depending on which University they choose and the type of degree, universities can charge up to £9,250 per year for undergraduate tuition. This soon adds up when you consider that most degrees take 3-4 years to complete. Also, something to bear in mind is that unless you live near the University you will need to take into account living costs such as travel, rent, bills, textbooks and other living expenses, which could add up to £8,200 per year. This means that if you complete a 4 year course, by the time you graduate you could accumulate a massive debt of £69,000!

These numbers could sky rocket in the coming years, with some politicians considering raising top-up fees even further, meaning students could be saddled with even more debt.

The Apprenticeship route: If you are lucky enough to find an employer to support you through your training, an apprenticeship doesn’t cost the student anything, as the employer pays for their training. Apprentices get paid a wage whilst they are learning, plus they don’t have to worry about burdening themselves with the student debts associated with going to University. However, currently the National Minimum Wage for those aged 16-18 or 19+ in the first year of their apprenticeship is £3.40 per hour, although research shows that many employers pay more and the average salary is approx. £170 per week.

The electrical training provider route: For those that choose to study as an electrician with an electrical training provider, the typical cost of training ranges from £2,495 to £7,490, depending on whether you want to work on domestic installations only, or work on both domestic and commercial installations. You will also need to bear in mind that to become fully qualified you will also need to complete an NVQ and AM2, which on average will cost around £3,000.


We recently ran a Trades Salary Survey which reports that according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the median Electrician salary is £30,765, with the construction industry seeing the highest year-on-year growth. Also, the average starting salary for an electricians mate is approximately £22,000 per year, and with the high demand for work within the electrical industry these salary’s could increase significantly.

According to the latest High Fliers report, The Graduate Market in 2016, the median starting salary for UK graduates in 2016 is £30,000. However, graduate-jobs.com estimates the average starting salary for graduates is £19,000 - £22,000.


We hope that the information above helps you make the right decision as to which training route would suit you.

We believe that when you consider all the information above, it makes sense to get a trade versus going to university. Students who attend an electrical training course generally complete their training in half the time, therefore typically have a two-year head start on earnings and career advancement, also they aren’t burdened with the huge student loans associated with going to university.

Also, we offer certifications in specific skills that are immediately marketable for entry-level work allowing you to go out and start earning a decent wage. And from there, you can make the choice to take further courses and pass specific qualifications to increase your value in the workplace.

If you are interested in becoming an electrician, it might be worth having a look at our range of electrician’s courses. Or, if you would prefer speak to someone, give us a call on 01293 529777 to speak to a trained course adviser who will be happy to help.

Categories: apprenticeships, university costs, trade courses

Ultimate guide to the Apprenticeship Levy May 2017

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 3rd May 2017

Apprenticeship Levy

From May 2017 the way the Government funds Apprenticeships in England is changing.

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship levy is a government initiative to fund Apprenticeships that came into effect in April 2017. This levy is only payable for employers with a total wage bill in excess of £3 million, will be paid through PAYE and is set at 0.5% of your annual pay bill.

There is an annual Apprenticeship Levy allowance of £15,000 to offset against your levy liability, which means that only those employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million will have to pay and report the levy. This is because 0.5% of an employer’s £3 million pay bill is £15,000, which is fully removed by the £15,000 Apprenticeship Levy allowance.

The start date for spending funds as part of the new apprenticeship funding system is the 1st May 2017. Apprenticeships started from this date will be funded according to the new rules. This will apply to all employers, both those paying the levy and those that don’t.

For more detailed information on the levy visit Gov.uk.

Who will need to pay the Apprenticeship Levy?

All companies receive an offset allowance of £15,000, equivalent to 0.5% on a payroll of £3 million and any employer with a payroll above this will be liable to pay the levy.

Below is an example of an employer who will need to pay the levy with an annual pay bill of £3 million:

Employer of 250 employees, with an average gross salary of £20,000

Pay bill: 250 x £20,000 = £5,000,000

Levy sum: 0.5% x £5,000,000 = £25,000

Minus levy allowance: £25,000 – 15,000

£10,000 annual levy payment

If you need help calculating how much you need to pay, the government website has a handy calculation tool available HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools.

Paying the Levy

If you have calculated that you will pay the Apprenticeship levy, your payroll department will need to calculate, report on and pay your levy to HMRC through the PAYE process alongside National Insurance and Income Tax from April 2017.

Your annual pay bill is based on all payments to employees that are subject to employer Class 1 secondary National Insurance contributions (NICs) such as wages, bonuses and commissions. Apprenticeship levy payments are allowable for Corporation Tax.

If you’ve overpaid the Apprenticeship levy during the year, you will receive a refund as a PAYE credit.

Expiry of funds in your digital account

Levy funds will expire 24 months after they enter your digital account unless you spend them on Apprenticeship training – if you don’t use them, you will lose them.

This will also apply to any top-ups in your digital account. For example, funds entering your account in October 2017 will expire in October 2019.

Money is spent when it leaves your digital account as a payment to a training provider. The account will work on a first-in, first-out basis. To minimise the amount of expired funds, whenever a payment is taken from your digital account it will automatically use the funds that entered your account first.

Industry training levy contributions

Businesses will still need to pay the Apprenticeship Levy even if they already contribute to an industry-wide training levy arrangement, for example the Construction Industry Training Board Levy.

What can levy funds pay for?

Funds in the digital account can pay for training and assessment for Apprenticeships (with an approved provider and assessment organisation, up to its funding band maximum). These funds cannot be used to pay for wages, travel or subsidiary costs, work placements, traineeships, managerial costs or the costs of setting up an apprenticeship programme.

If you have existing staff who you wish to train they could be eligible for an Apprenticeship as long as there is a real need for them to develop new skills in order to progress in their career.

How can employers spend their levy?

Firstly, you will need to register with the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) and create a digital account.  This is a new on-line portal to select apprenticeship programmes, training providers and process payments.

Once levy funds have been collected by HMRC they will be held in your ‘Digital Apprenticeship Service’ (DAS) account. You will then be able to direct the funds held in your account to an ‘approved training provider’ to pay for your Apprenticeship training.

Government 10% top-up

What’s in it for you?

The government will apply a 10% top-up to monthly funds entering levy paying employers digital accounts, for Apprenticeship training. This means that all funds entering a levy payer’s account will be increased, so every £1 will be increased to £1.10 in value for you to spend on Apprenticeship training.



Apprenticeship funding bands

There are currently two types of apprenticeship scheme, frameworks and standards and both will be funded in the same way.

Each Apprenticeship standard or framework will be placed into one of 15 bands, ranging from £1,500 to £27,000. These bands will determine the maximum amount that can be spent on each Apprenticeship.

Funding bands can be found here.

The upper limit of the funding bands will also cap the maximum price that the government will ‘co-invest’, if an employer does not pay the levy or has insufficient levy funds to pay for the number of Apprenticeships they want to use. It will be up to employers to negotiate prices with providers, within these funding limits.

What happens if an employer’s levy funds don’t cover the cost of the training?

You will be expected to make a contribution to the extra cost of training if you have either used all your funds or don’t have enough to fund the number of apprenticeships you wish to train. However, additional government support will be provided to help you meet the additional costs. The government will pay 90% (up to the maximum amount of funding available for that Apprenticeship) and the employer will be expected to pay the remaining 10%. This is known as ‘co-investment’.

Additional incentive for employing 16 to 18 year olds and 19-24 year olds with additional needs

If you take on an apprentice who is between 16 and 18 years old at the start of their Apprenticeship, you will receive a £1,000 incentive to help meet the extra costs of employing them. This will also apply to 19-24 year old care leavers or young adults with additional learning needs.

The £1,000 will be paid in 2 instalments in months 3 and 12 of the Apprenticeship; initially these will be paid to the provider who will pass the money on.

If you are an employer who doesn’t currently take on apprentices and you will be affected by the levy, we would advise that you start to consider setting up a pilot apprenticeship scheme so you are in the best position to make use of your levy funds in 2017.

Non-levy payers and co-investment

Employers with a wage bill below £3 million per year won’t pay the levy and won’t need to use the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) to pay for Apprenticeship training. However, they will have to pay towards the cost of an apprenticeship. Those employers are expected to pay a 10% contribution and the government will pay the remaining 90%.

Below is an example of an employer who would not pay the levy:

Employer of 100 employees, with an average gross salary of £20,000

Pay bill: 100 x £20,000 = £2,000,000

Levy sum: 0.5% x £2,000,000 = £10,000

Minus levy allowance: £10,000 – 15,000

£0 annual levy payment

What should you do now?

If you will be affected by the Apprenticeship levy we would highly recommend that you start to plan now for how many apprenticeships your levy credits will cover. This will ensure you are in the best position to make the most of your levy funds from May 2017.

If your business is not affected by the levy and you are considering taking on an apprentice we would recommend you speak to our course advisers who will be happy to discuss this with you.

How can we help?

We are pleased to announce that we have been approved to supply apprenticeship training for levy paying employers and are planning to offer the following electrical apprenticeship in 2017:

C&G 5357 Level 3 Electrical Apprenticeship

If you, or your employer are looking for apprenticeship provision contact us to find out how we can deliver a bespoke solution to suit your needs.


Useful links

Click here to view the Apprenticeship Levy: How it will work.

Click here to use the estimate my apprenticeship funding tool

Click here to view the apprenticeships support package for employers in England

Click here to view the funding bands tool

Click here to sign up to the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS)

Click here for guidance on using the HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools (BPT)


Categories: apprenticeships, apprenticeship levy