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Case Study: Jon Ballard

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 28th July 2014

Today we caught up with one of our students Jon Ballard. Jon started training with Trade Skills 4U back in 2012 and has since taken a number of courses. Jon was able to fund his courses in part with ELC credits from his resettlement office. Jon’s company Ballard Electricals is based in Birmingham and has gone from strength to strength since leaving the Army in 2013. He is now sending his own employees to Trade Skills 4U to get qualified. We asked him some questions to find out why he travelled all the way from Birmingham to train with us.

How long have you been working in the electrical industry?

I had my first taste of Electrical work at 15 whilst I was labouring on one of my dads building sites during the school holidays... I was hooked!  Dad decided it was my time to learn about the building trade.  So he politely loaned (forced upon me) each of the trades in-turn, thus enabling me to learn a little bit about everything.  It worked, apart from a small (19 year) detour in my building career (the Army) I have always had an attraction to the site life.

What type of work were you doing before training?

I spent 19 years in the Army, with the last 9 years within the Bomb Disposal trade.  Being a cheeky bugger by nature, I managed to do a lot of 'moonlighting' away from the Army as an electrician around my military commitments.  Life on site got to the point where the boys were taking the mickey about my lack of electrical qualifications even though I had lots of years on site..... TS4U here I come!

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

Initially, I came to TS4U for a few 1 day courses to increase my knowledge of data networks, intruder alarms and door entry etc.  However, when I got to know the staff and facilities I decided that I wanted to use TS4U to conduct my Electrotechnical Level 2 & 3 Diplomas.

What difference has the training made to your career?

Gaining my level 2 & 3 qualifications has been great.  It has wrapped up my 20+ years’ experience with the theoretical knowledge giving me the factual reasons for doing what us Sparks do on a daily basis.  It has also turned me in to an argumentative bugger now.... I know it all! Ha.

What type of work are you now doing?

Since leaving the Army in Late 2013 I have been lucky enough to see my company (started in 2009) become stronger and more resilient. I have managed to transition my focus from a split between the Army vs. Electrical to being now fully focused on the development of my Electrical Contracting business.  I have attempted to set up my business so that we are not stuck in just one facet of electrical work.  Just yesterday, I started the day in a restaurant renovation in central Birmingham and completed the day fitting an additional socket for a lovely old chap down the road.  I feel that if I restrict my work to one facet of electrical work (domestic, commercial or industrial) I put the business at risk from future collapses in the industry. However, if I try to do too much...... This too, may end badly, seeing us do nothing well. A balancing act that I must get right.

What made you choose to train with Trade Skills 4U?

Over the past 10 years I have undertaken various electrical courses, mostly to stop the mickey-taking from the boys on site.  I have undergone training at 3 different providers all promising various things.  TS4U was one of those 3.  I chose TS4U to do my Level 2 & 3 because they lived up to those promises and when I sat back to think about where I should do this important training, I thought that TS4U gave the best balance of facilities and instructor engagement.

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

The 2 other training providers I have used over the years both had poor facilities and some, in my opinion, condescending and snob-ish instructors - that annoyed me.  I had done 10 years on site (and 3 fighting operational tours abroad with the Army) before going to my first course and this bloke was talking to me like I was a moron!  I worked hard to control my tongue and temper, which as it turned out, was great practice for dealing with the occasional customer!  TS4U have some amazing instructors.  I have not met one instructor who has not been helpful and quick to assist me.  When I am spending this much money, that is important.

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

I have no reservation in recommending TS4U to everyone looking for a well-rounded training programme for an electrical career.  Everyone I have dealt with, from the instructors through to the back-room staff have been great.  Smiling and happy to help, even when they are visibly busy with some other burden at the time.

What are you planning on doing in the future?

My future?.... Since I had a late start with the educational side of things I have plans to finish off my NVQ and I have my Level 4 design course booked for later in 2014.  I am also looking for another course to sink my teeth in to for 2015.... Answers on a postcard..... I would like to reach a higher standard of knowledge through continued electrical education.  I think this will allow me to couple this with my practice experience and ultimately become more astute at bidding for contracts.  I have some product development work with manufacturers currently underway and am looking at expanding my design experience with this new qualification and knowledge.

We wish Jon the best of luck with his future training and business. Having trained Jon numerous times we know he is a very professional, disciplined, organised and friendly individual who works hard and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to anyone looking for an electrician in Birmingham or the West Midlands.





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