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The Professional and Career Development Loan scheme is closing

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 27th September 2018

career development loan

If you are considering applying for a Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL), you need to be aware that as from the 25th January 2019 this loan will no longer be available to new borrowers. Existing loans will not be affected.

What is a Professional and Career Development Loan?

The Professional and Career Development Loan is different from a personal loan in that that you don't pay any interest on the loan while you're studying, as this is paid for by the Government instead.

The loan is specifically designed to pay for courses and training that improve your employability or, if you already have a job, improve your career prospects. The loan can be used to pay for either some or all of your course costs, including books.

Who can apply?

You can apply if you are 18 years or over, a British citizen, have been living in the UK for at least 3 years before your course starts or you plan to work in the UK, European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) after the course.

How does the loan work?

You can apply to borrow between £300 and £10,000 to help fund your course. Once accepted, the Government will pay the interest on the loan for the duration of your course and for one month after it has finished.

This allows you to complete your course and only start repaying your loan after your course has finished. It will then be up to you to start repaying the loan, plus the interest stated in your loan agreement in fixed monthly payments which you can spread over 1 to 5 years. If you drop out of the course you are still be liable to pay the full amount.

The Professional and Career Development Loan is offered by the Co-op Bank. Below you can see a representative example but for more details on interest rates and eligibility please visit the Co-op bank website.

loan example

To qualify for the PCDL you need make sure that you apply 8 weeks before your course starts, this will give your bank enough time to process your application. If you apply more than 8 weeks ahead your application will not be accepted. The final date for submitted applications is Friday, 25 January 2019, with a course start date no later than 24 March 2019.

What can I use the loan for and how do I apply?

You can apply to use the Professional Career Development Loan to pay for the C&G 2365 Diploma Course Package us. Please be aware that we have limited spaces on each course, so please ensure you contact us on 0800 856 4448 or 03330 123 123 to discuss if we have loans available on your chosen start date.

We would advise reviewing all the information on the Government Website before making your application.

It is your responsibility to fully research whether the loan is the right choice for you before deciding to make an application. If you do take out a loan it is your responsibility to make the payments for this loan once the course is finished as you would if taking out any kind of private finance.

Alternatively to find out whether a PDCL is the best option for you please call the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900.

Categories: professional and career development loan

How often should you calibrate your test equipment?

Posted by Elaine Hammond on 18th September 2018

To ensure that your electrical testing equipment and test meters provide you with accurate results in accordance with its specifications it is recommended that you have these calibrated on regular basis.

A frequently asked question is “How often should I calibrate my test equipment” and the short answer is that unfortunately there is no short answer! There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ as every instrument will have a different calibration frequency requirement as recommended by the manufacture.

Therefore, to give peace of mind and to ensure that you can use your equipment safely and reliably, it is advised that you follow the manufacturers recommended frequency. However, you should also bear in mind that critical measurements may require different intervals.

How important is Calibration

The calibration process compares a measuring instrument with a measurement standard to establish the relationship between the values indicated by the instrument and those of the standard.

The accuracy of your test instruments can drop over time, therefore it is advisable that regular calibration is undertaken. The accuracy of major components of instruments like voltage references, input dividers and current shunts will start to shift over time. However, this shift is minor and won’t affect the measurements if you maintain a good calibration schedule.

The calibration of your test instruments must be undertaken by an accredited laboratory. All meter calibrations must be traceable back to the National Standards and procedures detailed in BS EN/IEC17025:2017 and carried out by suppliers who are ISO 9001:2015 certified. The organisation you use should be AKAS accredited. If they are not, the following risks could include compliance and safety issues, litigation issues, wastage of resources and materials, increased downtimes, low quality of the final products.

It is also worth noting that by keeping your own record of measurements, you will be satisfying guidelines from bodies such as the NICEIC, ELECSA and NAPIT who will carry out your annual assessment.

If you do this using a known fixed resistor bank, for example, record the results at the frequency and manner specified by the bodies and the readings remain the same, this may satisfy the need for calibration.

Listed below are some calibration frequencies, which we hope you will find helpful:

Manufacturers’ recommendation - You should keep up with the manufacturers’ recommend frequency, however you should also note that critical measurements may require different intervals.

Before you start a major critical measuring project - If you have a project that requires highly accurate measurements, firstly decide which instruments you will use and then send them for calibration, then lock them down in storage until testing begins to ensure you get absolutely accurate results.

After a major critical measuring project ends - After a major critical measuring project you should send the same equipment for calibration. When you get the results back you can confirm the accuracy of your testing results for that project.

After an accident/event - You may need to consider having the instrument checked for accuracy following a hit, eg if something knocked out the internal overload or they had physical impact.

Per project requirements - Each job regardless of the project size will have a different calibration requirement. Some will require certified and calibrated test equipment, where others may not require stringent calibration standards. These requirements may not be explicitly stated, therefor you should review the specs before the test.

Monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually - If you do critical measurements often then a shorter time span between calibrations will mean there is less chance of questionable test results. Often calibrating at shorter intervals will afford you with better specifications. Depending on their usage, you may have to calibrate equipment on a monthly, quarterly or semiannually basis. One way of achieving this is to use a circuit with known readings, a proprietary calibration card or check box.

Annually - If you carry out a mix of critical and non-critical measurements, annual calibration tends to be a good option with the right balance between prudence and cost.

Biannually - If you don’t carry out many critical measurements and don’t expose your meter to an event, calibration at long frequencies can be more cost-effective.

And finally… Your business insurance may require you to have a valid calibration certificate, as well as an awarding organisation, therefore it’s advisable to check with them.

You may also be interested to read our blog What is Meter Calibration and Why is it Important? and view the results from a survey we ran in 2017 Survey Results: How often should you have your test meter calibrated? 

If you are interested in taking a course with us and would like to speak to a Course Advisor please contact 0800 856 4448, alternatively for more information please visit our Course Finder page. 

Categories: calibration frequency, calibrate, testing equipment, test meters