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Case Study - Robert Stearn Forgotten Heroes Bursary

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 16th December 2014

Name: Robert Stearn

Age: Over 50

Goal: To Become a Domestic Electrician

Course Taken: Bronze Package

Outcome: Working In Industry

I just had the pleasure of seeing a message on LinkedIn to congratulate Robert Stearn on his new job. Robert recently completed a Bronze course with Trade Skills 4U but his circumstances were slightly different than most of the others on the course.

Robert Stearn was forced to retire from the military in February 2000. He served from RNAS Culdrose as a supervisor of electrical maintenance and repair for 27 years during which time he was deployed in the Falkland’s, Middle East & Far East. Robert is fighting fit now but had been suffering from Thyroid Cancer and also Type One Diabetes which had been brought on by some of the medication he had taken whilst on duty.

Rob is clearly a very smart and presentable chap who due to the hardships he had faced fell into a dead end job working in a warehouse. When Robert applied for the Trade Skills 4U forgotten heroes bursary he realised it would mean quitting his job in order to take the training. Robert decided to take the plunge and quit his job in order to train on the Bronze Domestic Installer Course. It would mean having to find work pretty quickly once he had finished the course but he knew in the long run it would be worth it.

Like many of the forgotten heroes who had taken the course before him Robert excelled in his training and passed all 4 elements of his course first time. His previous technical and DIY experience helped as did his dedication and professionalism. Whilst at the centre Rob had met another student who was also from an Ex-Military background, Jonathan Ballard who runs an electrical installation company very close to Robert in the West Midlands.

The two kept in contact and within 2 weeks of finishing his course Jon was let down by a contractor and needed an extra pair of hands on some domestic projects. He called on Robert and the two started working together. Robert has said:

“The Bronze Course has given me the fundamentals to gain a foothold in a sustainable career. The C&G's are impressive but only if you can match them with some quantifiable experience. My aim is to be registered with one of the approved Part P schemes, which is the natural culmination of the Trade Skills 4U Bronze Course.

Since training I've registered as self-employed and I have been contracting myself out to Ballard Electricals. Jon Ballard is also Ex Forces and a long time student of Trade Skills 4U. It was perfect timing as Jon has recently lost a contractor. Since working for Jon I have installed lights, new sockets, fused spurs, a garage conversion, assisted in a first and second fix house rewire, a complete house rewire, from the initial Electrical Installation Condition Report, design and agreement to the first and second fix, making good, inspection and testing and handover back to the customer. I've even fitted a new Distribution Board under strict supervision from Jon. This is definitely the best placement I could have hoped for to gain experience.

When I phoned Trade Skills 4U I had no idea where this would lead yet, here I am doing it. No plan just one step at a time. Although I had the bursary to pay for my course, I had to give up my job and spend what was left on my credit card to pay for travel, food and accommodation. This has been a big risk for me but one that has paid off. Trade Skills 4U has been brilliant at getting me through my exams to put me in a position where I can become registered in an approved Part P scheme.  Jon Ballard is brilliant at teaching me how to apply my classroom stuff into real life experiences. At this rate I doubt it will be long before I'm registered.  I have no idea where this is all going, Jon has big plans and wants his business to grow bigger, if we continue to work well together then I could grow with him. Not bad for a man without a plan.”

It is great to see the difference it can make but simply getting the right skills to help you change career. Robert has really done well for himeself and now works self employed on some projects whilst also subbing himself out to Jon Ballard. This enables him to work independently and also gain valuable experience from an experienced sparky.

For someone of Robert's age it is almost impossible to contemplate carrying out a full apprenticeship which is why the option of training as a domestic installer worked so well for him. He could get trained quickly, draw on his existing knowledge and skills, find work quickly and start earning within a short period of time. Robert took quite a big gamble when he quit his job but this was a calculated one which has quite clearly paid off already.

If you wish to find out more about the Bursary Scheme at Trade Skills 4U visit www.tradeskills4u.co.uk/bursary .


Categories: case study