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Topic Title: Electrician Research Findings Report (May 2013) - Your feedback requested
Topic Summary: Key Finding: Fragmented industry is affecting electricians’ career aspirations
Created On: 23 July 2013 04:35 PM
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 30 July 2013 12:49 PM
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Parsley

Posts: 1353
Joined: 04 November 2004

You don't need NVQ's to achieve professional registration with ECUK it just makes it easier if you have.

Pete's example shows what's possible if you invest in yourself, I hope his and the other students C&G efforts are recognised by potential employers rather than younger graduates with BEng and no site experience. I guess it depends on whether the employer is a contractor or consultant.

I don't believe ECUK registration should be made easier to help the government meet their targets. It should only be awarded to individuals who have been working at the required level for several years and have gained valuable real life experience not by completing a course.

It's a difficult problem to fix, would you advise your kids to go to college and uni and seek a non construction career or work as an apprentice for a local contractor. The brighter hands on kids have been put off the apprentice route, turning the tech colleges into uni's didn't help the situation and resulted in the need to lower the standards and a generally dumbing down of qualifications.

Regards
 30 July 2013 01:27 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22359
Joined: 23 March 2004

I guess it depends on whether the employer is a contractor or consultant.


Not really - I did my apprenticeship with a big contractor, I studied for higher education with a government department, I've worked subsequently as a client, consultant and contractor.

Personally speaking, I've always found it best to have a good mix of classically trained BEng engineers and vocationally trained C&G, BTEC engineers in the team - along with a smattering of those whose training and formation doesn't fit easily into any bracket.

Pays not to get too hung up on who has what badge in my experience - ability and most importantly attitude is the most important thing.

Right here and now, I've an Meng electrical engineer doing one task, a late career change electrician come electrical engineer via C&G and other assorted quals doing another - I'm just idling my time away on here - but I've an architectural degree - so I'm allowed.

It's a difficult problem to fix, would you advise your kids to go to college and uni and seek a non construction career or work as an apprentice for a local contractor.


Personally, I encourage them to do what they felt most comfortable doing - but whichever they chose, they should do it bloody well - no point forcing someone who hates maths into a Uni if they are happier butchering wood is there.

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 30 July 2013 01:55 PM
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Parsley

Posts: 1353
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Personally, I encourage them to do what they felt most comfortable doing - but whichever they chose, they should do it bloody well - no point forcing someone who hates maths into a Uni if they are happier butchering wood is there.

I agree OMS. You were obviously one of the brighter kids that wanted to learn all aspects of the industry and have made a successful career as an engineer. There's not that many like you now, I wonder how many there will be in 30 years time.

Regards
 30 July 2013 02:40 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22359
Joined: 23 March 2004

Bright ? - not really - enquiring mind and a good memory got me through most of my exams - coupled with a fragmented education studied at a variety of points through my lifetime - structured training is great - but being exposed to perhaps similar things in a more ad hoc fashon also has it's merits - you tend to think around things and see where it takes you.

Having started off "electrically", perhaps in common with lots of other electrical types, the mechanical and building services side interested me - so I studied a bit more and went into HVAC and building services in a variety of sectors. A few years later I got ***** off just servicing boxes designed by others and coming up with best fit solutuons - so I looked at architecture and the ability to influence the box from the outset

Careers are funny things - I never wanted one actually, just happy to have a job - I went into an apprenticeship and into engineering broadly at a time when good old Norman was telling us all to get on our bikes - I was bright enough to realise that it was get out, get moving and suceed or just sink into the mire of post industrial collapse - I was lucky, I did it - many weren't so lucky - plenty of my school mates are now shambling wrecks, 30 years unemployed, addicts or long buried after a cheap scag hit went wrong.

30 years from now will be a different time - and I guess we'll still have a situation where some will be doing OK, some won't and there will still be a general view in the UK that engineering is just oily rags and boiler suits. Ohhh - and most of you will be working for Indian or Chinese companies, and be bloody proud of it - who knows - there may even be a Part P debate on this forum .

The lesson for today is simply that it doesn't matter what you do, it doesn't matter where you do it - just do it well and things happen.

The most critical thing we do need to do is teach kids how to learn things - and stop directing the little sods into whatever career when they are still 9 years of age - I give you the recent news of breastfeeding and higher IQ as an example - there will now be millions of kids sucking *****, becuase mum and dad wants them to go to Oxbridge - regardless.

Curious world isn't it

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 30 July 2013 10:13 PM
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sparkingchip

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"Never mind drawing bloody cassettes"

I thought we are are discussing level 3 Eng.Tech. just how skilled a Autocad Jockey do you think your average level 3 electrician is?

The knowledge and skill set in the building services City and Guilds level 4 seems way beyond the average level 3 electrician, I read it through last night and it seems to be geared at getting credits for continuing with a degree than working on the tools at a higher level.

When I set out on my training I was told I would need to do the CG2400 as it was required to be a qualified supervisor, so I would need it to be a registered with the NICEIC as was my intention then, nobody seems to worried about whether you have it or not these days.

Anyway with the CG2400 you had to design the electrical installation, in my project it was the camping and caravan park, so for example you had to design the electrical circuits for the water heater circuits, in my mind if it was a building services version you should also be able to determine just how much hot water usage there would be then size the storage cylinders and do the plumbing layouts as well. It seems to a quantum leap to some of the design stuff in the building services C&G, yet both it and the 2396 that replaces the 2400 are level 4, I'm not quite understanding the gradings applied.
 31 July 2013 07:58 AM
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Parsley

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The original C course was a big step up from the 236-2. I did it in 89-90, it was a 1 year 12 hour day at college plus the project in your own time, the lecturers said it was meant to be 2 years but for some reason had been condensed, by 5PM your brain was fried and you couldn't take anymore. I think the idea was that the C course would enable entry onto a HNC or degree course, the 2400 in contrast was a lot easier but I also had an additional 10 years experience before I took that course, like Andy I took it because at the time I believed it was the NIC's requirement for QM which they now seem to have dropped.

OMS, The milk and IQ study isn't surprising, but is it because generally parents who are more likely to breast feed are also more likely to interact and read to their children from an early age instead of switching the tv on as soon as they wake up?

Regards
 31 July 2013 11:53 AM
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OMS

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I thought we are are discussing level 3 Eng.Tech. just how skilled a Autocad Jockey do you think your average level 3 electrician is?


That was partly my point - Eng Tech shouldn't be at level 3 qualification - it should be at least level 4.

Again my point was that the average level 3 electrician doesn't need much in the way of AutoCad skills (although BIM will change that) - at Level 4 you would expect AutoCad skills and a wider understanding of design tools generally.

The knowledge and skill set in the building services City and Guilds level 4 seems way beyond the average level 3 electrician, I read it through last night and it seems to be geared at getting credits for continuing with a degree than working on the tools at a higher level.


Now you are getting it - Eng Tech was never aimed at average level 3 electricians - but that's where this particular proposal is heading. It's deskilling and dumbing down whichever way you look at it - particularly as there appears to be a requirement for 2391 and a regs book - why single out a particular C&G module - a good electrical technician should fundamentally understand inspection and testing as a core skill - not an add on - I'd certainly expect that kind of in depth knowledge from a technician.

As for a regs book - in what other sector does the award of Eng Tech rely on having a library ?

Anyway with the CG2400 you had to design the electrical installation, in my project it was the camping and caravan park, so for example you had to design the electrical circuits for the water heater circuits, in my mind if it was a building services version you should also be able to determine just how much hot water usage there would be then size the storage cylinders and do the plumbing layouts as well. It seems to a quantum leap to some of the design stuff in the building services C&G, yet both it and the 2396 that replaces the 2400 are level 4, I'm not quite understanding the gradings applied.


OK - lets keep a bit of seperation here. I would expect a good level 4 technician operating as Eng Tech with an electrical formation or bias to be able to determine (from first principles and empirical formula) the probable HWS volumes, to undertsand how that may be generated (instantaneous or storage or a combination) and what effect that has on the electrical systems - in short, to be able to go back to his Clanky counterpart and argue a case for not using 20 x 9.5 kW showers in favour of a 30kW element in a 2000l storage vessel. Ditto for heat pump systems, the impact of PV in mitigating imported demands etc etc etc

Personally, I think the 2396 is going the right way - it should be beefed up a bit in my opinion, but also doesn't really address what are probable shortcomings in the candidates basic general engineering underpinning knowledge - also it's repetetive in some of the answers expected in the project element.

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 31 July 2013 11:26 PM
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Zs

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I read about having to re-prove 2391 and found myself thinking that I'd like to do that and that I wonder if I could pass it without any revision. I doubt it but these days but just maybe. Apart from the hours learning regs by heart which no mortal should spare the time for unless under examination.

Ok, some things have come to mind on this thread and in no particular order....

AutoCAD. This is a marvellous skill to add to your remit. At the moment I could just about turn out a half decent drawing of a building with all the sockets and switches and the cable routes on it. Maybe a drawing of the distribution board (essential) but not much more. This has taken some hours already. I reckon a great use of time instead of playing computer games, if you do that kind of thing, because it does have an element of 'playing'. Don't play the jelly bean app for hours, get AutoCAD (or relux, which is free) and use your time on that. However, whilst it is going to be a massive value added for me it is not necessary because you can outsource it. Your average Cad monkey doesn't earn much more than the rest of us and he or she is just making your sketches into drawings.

But, combine Cad with a bit of experience, take responsibility for the design of the electrics on the drawings and you might be a bit further down the line. It is not, in my opinion, a level 4 skill. Put it this way, I can do it .

2396: Level 4 and useful but it does not teach you how to design systems. It starts you off.

Pete TLM: Is doing this course with a baby and a young child. awesome.

Google and the enquiring mind: IMHO if you do not Google loads and loads of random things then you do not have an enquiring mind.
Today I went through a dreadful experience; went to pick up my step dad from the hospital following his heart valve replacement. All signed off and ready to go. He passed out after getting dressed. After I had shouted the Wellington down calling for help he was put back to bed and on the monitors and fell asleep. He was snoring and the heart monitor was going funny. Just like a rectified sine wave as it happens, square. By the time the doc arrived to reassure me, I knew, from Google, what happens to the heartbeat during sleep and that it was abnormal without REM. ' When Robin snores why does this go square?' Google gives you the power to ask a partially informed question and learn more. He is still there. In the meantime today I have found out the nutritional value of a courgette (not great but the green bit is good), suggested ways of changing the neck and fret board of the new Telecaster which is too pale, found a lovely quote for a colleague who is having a tough time and a supplier for a particular photocell switch that I would like to try out.

When I am Prime Minister I will make a clause about how often applicants for jobs and opportunities look things up. I don't really mind if they are level 4. I am one and I don't know much.

Mentoring: This is the greatest gift we can ever have. In the past I have outgrown my mentors and eventually found myself disagreeing with them on the QT. Apparently that is a sign of real growth. My mentor in electrical, as you know, is OMS. It don't get much better than that and hell he keeps himself streets ahead so there'll never be any catching up.

Being a mentee is what is making the difference.

Zs
 01 August 2013 04:50 AM
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Jaymack

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Having experience of using CAD operators on the electrical side (and other disciplines), most operators for electrical diagrams especially, are merely tracers for the engineer, they usually have no design skills, and on a par with ye olde typing pools, churning out sometime legible script for input by scribes. Layout drawings are mostly prepared by architectural civil, piping or mechanical draughtsmen, where there is more of a design element required, but still requiring the input of an engineering type.

As usual with most techniques, CAD can be learned quickly by those with a modicum of brain cells, and is a very useful tool for industry in general; it beats leaning over a drawing board, sometimes pencil and sometimes ink ............. but what a schlep for 5 years!

I taught myself Autocad and Microstation, since some clients used either for projects that I was involved in, in a former life, both are similar but with different costing. AutoCad produced a very useful teaching CD, they probably still do, and they have a cheaper Lite version for the non sophisticates. Ebay has old copies of CAD software on the go at times.

Regards
 01 August 2013 06:55 AM
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davezawadi

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I agree with you Zs.

Some time ago I offered mentoring here and got no interest at all! That probably says quite a lot.

I was organising some van insurance yesterday with one of the largest insurance brokers. Having given an exact description of the vehicle (Transit Luton 125 T350) I was told it didn't exist as a model, had an engine which Ford don't make, must be modified from something else, and having given the chassis number was told they couldn't use that and I must ask the ford dealer for the engine capacity! About an hour later they admitted that their computer list was very incomplete and in error, but still no apology when they at last quoted properly for the right vehicle. They then spent a long time telling me that it was my responsibility to describe the vehicle correctly (which I had) as otherwise the insurance might be invalid! I wonder who is responsible for that, which is obviously a mess waiting to cause a disaster for some poor customer. Training and knowledge? Certainly not present there.

This level stuff is probably another nonsense idea. In my experience you can have engineering graduates who have no grip on the subject at all, yet school leavers who have practiced as a hobby who can do excellent design work. I think this shows that the most important bit is the subject interest, not how many strange pseudo-qualifications one may have. I am not belittling qualifications as such, just that they are far from the whole story. It is the whole person which must be considered.

-------------------------
David
BSc CEng MIET
david@ZawadiSoundAndLighting.co.uk
 01 August 2013 08:18 AM
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Parsley

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Dave

Its a shame no one took your offer up.

In my experience the type of people who want to learn new skills and consider where they want to be in 5 years time normally do it off their own back.

The IET offer mentors to assist with pro reg http://www.theiet.org/membersh...ing/iservice/index.cfm you could also volunteer.

Regards
 01 August 2013 12:53 PM
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OMS

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But, combine Cad with a bit of experience, take responsibility for the design of the electrics on the drawings and you might be a bit further down the line. It is not, in my opinion, a level 4 skill. Put it this way, I can do it


I agree that you need CAD in order to add engineering value or add engineering judgement to CAD to add value - I disagree that it isn't a level 4 skill though.

It's important to seperate the act of simply tracing up someone elses thinking - that's what Cad monkeys do, from that of using AutoCAD as a design tool - that's what engineers do. Simple examples would be perhaps adding circles of given radii to fire alarm symbols so as you are busy belting the layout into a drawing, you are also validating spacing requirements - which is a design aspect. If you understand acoustics, you can do similar things for sounders to get a feel for free field sound attenuation. Couple that with knowledge of how partitions are likley to attenuate, add a few fudge factors for reverberant field and now you have a tool that is useful for making sure your adibility criteria are met. There are many more examples like captuting quickly the area served by a DB so you don't end up looking like a lemon and going back to the architect and saying "Please Sir, can I have another riser please"

Using CAD as a design tool is fundamentally different from just drawing lines.

I think the point I was trying to make was that just drawing lines is probably a level 3 skill - using AutoCAD (and increasingly Revit and other BIM tools) as a design tool is a level 4 activity - which I guess gets back to the point that a Level 3 qualification is indequate in my mind for award of Eng Tech. I'd be expecting someting akin to a HNC/HND as academic quals and/or relevant level 3,4 and possibly 5 C&G's with additional underpinning knowledge.

Put in context, if the next step is Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and you need a BEng for that and CEng and you need an MEng for that, then the jump from Eng Tech at level 3 C&G to BEng is vastly greater than the jump from BEng to MEng - hence the Eng Tech needs to be at least at HNC/HND level or Level 4/5 C&G with plenty of experiential learning and underpinning knowedge to back it up.

Not easy routes for a trained electrician to move foward/upward in terms of career

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 01 August 2013 08:02 PM
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paulskyrme

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Having done the C&G, HNC, B degree, MEng, personally, then I can attest to the steps in learning required!

I tend to agree with OMS TBH!
 01 August 2013 09:08 PM
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Zs

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I want to ask a question and I'm a bit scared to do so because I can't find a delicate way of asking it in my head at the moment.

So here it is without fancy wording.

Why do so many of you out there in Electrician Land have so many fabulous qualifications and such super brains, and yet still you only do what most ordinary sparkies do day to day?

Retiring to place under the dining table.
Zs
 01 August 2013 09:35 PM
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paulskyrme

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It pays the bills, and it is easy to get.

Plus, it is not all I do!

Just in case that was aimed at me!

Also, I charge 3x what the going rate is around here for a house basher & get it, because of what I can do, regardless of what it is I am doing, CNC, PLC, consultancy, or domestic installs it is all the same rate, why do I want to work for a lower rate than I can get doing other stuff?
Mind, I do almost no house bashing as it is a pain, we are really too expensive, especially once you add the VAT!
 01 August 2013 10:21 PM
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Zs

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No, not at you P. I know what you do from conversations you and I have had and it is much more than house bashing. A general comment really. Sometimes, when a thread like this comes up I am surprised by how well qualified some of you are. Had a chat with a CEng this evening. We call him something else on here and I had no idea.

It probably has something to do with fewer job opportunities on the higher rungs of the ladder.

Perhaps I should have buttoned it and kept that to myself, but someone else may have been thinking the same.

Zs
 01 August 2013 10:43 PM
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paulskyrme

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No Zs, speak out PLEASE!!!

These things need to be discussed.

If truth be told I could probably get a full time job somewhere, perhaps even local, but, you know where I am located, would I get the remuneration I want/need bearing in mind my situation.
TBH I would rather be my own boss & manage than be a slave to others and do perhaps not much better!
So, another draw for "working below one's level" is that of perhaps being your own boss?
Not always good, "on the sick" at the moment, as I have bad hands, no point in following the full sick pay requirements of being employed, so just doing as much as I can to catch up with outstanding "paperwork" hoping this will be enough of a rest, but, still the company is not taking any money to pay me or its overheads, so not all rosy!
 02 August 2013 09:08 AM
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Zs

Posts: 3814
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Get better soon Paul,

There's nothing to speak out about really. It occurs to me that of half a dozen electricians working away on a construction site there could be a mix of C eng and degree qualified types working right alongside some who took a one week course on the internet, and of course,those in the middle.

I guess it brings us round in a circle to the OP?

Zs
 02 August 2013 11:18 AM
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OMS

Posts: 22359
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Why do so many of you out there in Electrician Land have so many fabulous qualifications and such super brains, and yet still you only do what most ordinary sparkies do day to day?


To answer that, first define what ordinary sparkies do every day - in different sectors, that could be activities that have vastly different levels of skill, knowledge and exerience requirements. I know plenty of CEng electrical engineers that I wouldn't trust to lift a floorboard that's been lifted previously by a plumber !!

Perhaps the other point is that individials are different and they have qualifications for a variety of reasons - which often have little to do with the job they actually do.

Also, people do things at different times in thier lives for different reasons. Having started as a spark, and then decided it wasn't demanding enough, I became an engineer, and then decided on another discipline to get involved in.

There are days when I could happily get the Dickies back on, lace up the site boots give the toolbox a blast of WD40 and go back to installation work . That would be fine - but only for a while, I'd start to get bored, end up doing the more technicaly demanding bits, get bored with that, argue with supervisors and the like and then pack it in and do something more akin to my usual day job.

And maybe, you'll have heard the phrase "the reluctant engineer" - same is true for sparkies ?

It probably has something to do with fewer job opportunities on the higher rungs of the ladder


Not so sure about that - I'd agree wholeheartedly that the logical step from an NVQ3 electrician to some sort of design role is not easy and not logical and probably means going building services rather than electrical. But there are roles for electricians in terms of QS/QM or into contracts management etc. There are technician routes by specialising in say fire alarm systems etc.

I would agree that changining careers from installation to design roles isn't easy - but actually, the higher rungs of the ladder are very sparsely populated at the moment - so well qualified competent people are in short supply - which in some cases suggests that the well qualified competent people don't want the jobs - they are happy sparking (and probably self employed).

It occurs to me that of half a dozen electricians working away on a construction site there could be a mix of C eng and degree qualified types working right alongside some who took a one week course on the internet, and of course,those in the middle.


Well, what's different about any group of people doing a job - for sure that "team" benefits from the mix of knowledge, qualification and experience - and sometimes it's suprising in which direction the knowledge flows.

For sure we are back to the OP - both in terms of what's out there for progression and what the industry representatives see as appropriate for that progression.

Personally speaking - this is just a cheap shot by the IET to round up a load of potential Eng Techs - without any clear idea if that's what the industry needs or wants. What it will be, without proper and careful consideration, is even more divisive to a badly fragmented industry.


Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 02 August 2013 01:11 PM
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zeeper

Posts: 1504
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Why do so many of you out there in Electrician Land have so many fabulous qualifications and such super brains, and yet still you only do what most ordinary sparkies do day to day?


I have been watching this thread with some amusement.

Talk about double standards, you want to make it easier to get a ecs jib "approved electrician gold card" , but harder(or not easier) to get "eng tech".

If you want to join a club you have to meet the joining requirements. These joining requirements have been know for a very long time. As part of your personal developement you should map out the qualifications and experience you need.

There is no point saying I got a HND in electrical engineering I should at least be able to have a ecs gold card , because I must know it all I have a HND. Academic qualifications do not provide you with the knowledge to build a conduit or trunking system. Or make cable tray junctions for example.

Just because you can design a DC rectifier doesnt make you a electrical installation expert.

That is why we have electrical installation qualifications 2360,2330,NVQ. these are vocation qualifications for craft skills.

Another example. If I did a course on chemisty and was then able to design plaster. I wouldnt then expect to be graded as a plaster on a craft skills card.

If your doing a job you need a relevant qualification. For more than 10 years now the JIB requirement for gold card has been NVQ3. I can see why its such a big moan. Its not like its a new thing

People who only have Academic qualifications(HNC HND , degree) should be designing equipment, working with PLC control. Thier course was never intended as an entry point into the electrical installation industry

So please stop bashing the NVQ electrician.
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