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Topic Title: SKILLED ELECTRICIANS
Topic Summary: An endangered species?
Created On: 03 August 2015 08:34 PM
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 03 August 2015 08:34 PM
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John Peckham

Posts: 8783
Joined: 23 April 2005

I have frequent requests from my network of contractors desperate to find skilled electricians. They are not looking for domestic twin and earth sparks they want experienced sparks who can work independently with minimal supervision erecting panel boards, DBs, conduit, trunking, SWA, tray and basket wiring and testing there own work.

Last week I had request for 3 sparks for immediate start and today a mate came to call wanting a Sparks and an apprentice for immediate start.

Both contractors have tried agency sparks but are not impressed.

I think there is a plentiful supply of people calling themselves sparks but a shortage of old school skilled sparks.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 03 August 2015 08:51 PM
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dickllewellyn

Posts: 1410
Joined: 19 March 2010

I think you are absolutely right John. It's becoming really difficult to find people that don't need constant supervision, and unfortunately all the ones that are available tend to be available for a reason!

-------------------------
Regards
Richard (Dick)

"Insert words of wisdom and/or witty pun here"
 03 August 2015 08:53 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22359
Joined: 23 March 2004

Well - it's what the industry wanted John - plenty of installers and a few electricians to apply a bit of brain power and instruct the installers on craft skills

When we are now resorting to push fit galv conduit, then you have to accept the Old Skool are virtually gone from the system and what's to come is a whole load of pre manufactured assemblies that installers can cobble together

You know the industry is in serious trouble when you hear cable basket being described as "wire cable tray" - go figure

Dig the new Breed

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 03 August 2015 08:57 PM
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Zoomup

Posts: 3271
Joined: 20 February 2014

I can do all of the required stuff that you mentioned, but, I have never liked someone on my back (as an employee) and now I do not have the stamina for heavy manual work. I far prefer the odd domestic job or small office or commercial job. A quick in and out with a handful of money afterwards suits me. Gone are the days of early starts and cold and wet working conditions. I do work for old people who can't even change a light bulb (lamp) and am happy to undertake small jobs. I have never really liked dusty, dirty site work. But if the industry requires suitable qualified experienced labour then it will have to pay well and provide good working conditions.

Many young people are these days unfortunately unteachable, they lack the ability to concentrate and apply their skills. You can't teach anyone "experience", that is acquired with time.

Anyway, installing cable will be old hat soon, when the new wireless energy systems are perfected.



Z.
 03 August 2015 09:03 PM
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alanblaby

Posts: 747
Joined: 09 March 2012

I'm quite often surprised at other Sparkies lack of a clue, but a call-out on Friday evening really showed the lack of awareness of 2 other people who 'are/were electricians'.
Got the call at 8:45 'my main fuse has gone, can you replace it?'
Ok, I thought they were getting confused, and meant a fuse in a fuse box, but on arrival it was the DNO fuse.
Right, why has it gone? The chap says he was messing around with the shower switch, and the cables touched. What surprised him was that the RCD had not tripped.
OK, I open up the CU to see the strangest of installs. Plain MK board, maybe 10 years old. Nothing, apart from the shower, is on the RCD. The shower cable is connected directly to the RCD, no overload protection, apart from the DNO fuse.The RCD is not on the bus bar, but 2 pieces of cable direct from the main switch.
He then me told both himself and his Dad were electricians, but they didnt have a DNO fuse with them. I told him there was no overload protection, and he should get it changed asap, he said they'd never had a problem before!
They knew about test meters, as they said they use Fluke MFTs at work.
I wouldnt let them wire a plug up.

Back to your point, I'm on a few agencies books. There are many jobs available, but the vast majority are poor quality work. Low wages, or long hours, requirements for IPAF/CRB/ECS etc for £12/hr.
Testing vacancies, which I'm interested in are usually drive-by testing , ok that's an exaggeration, but for the pay/time involved, you cannot do a quality Inspection.
I've got an interview tomorrow via an Agency. No idea what they really want, just was told 'Inspection of domestic social housing'. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm not getting my hopes up, as I think they'll want far too much doing in the time available.
 03 August 2015 09:32 PM
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leckie

Posts: 4323
Joined: 21 November 2008

Think about it. Push fit galv, wago connectors, plug and play lighting systems. Why? Because the available labour is not of sufficient quality. Reap and sow come to mind. The industry finds a way to keep going and nobody is indispensable.

So we may not like these things but anything that can be deskilled will be.

But if anyone wants to know how to install a running thread......I'm your man.
 03 August 2015 09:43 PM
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daveparry1

Posts: 7728
Joined: 04 July 2007

Alan, I came across one just like that recently, electric shower fed through a stand-alone 30m/a rcd which was fed from a Henley block straight from the meter tails. A year or so ago I found a cooker connected in exactly the same way, both jobs quite local to me so probably done by the same person! I do think that there are people out there that think rcd's give s/c and o/load protection!
 03 August 2015 09:44 PM
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SouthernSpark

Posts: 187
Joined: 01 August 2014

In short yes they are John, but are we surprised with what's been going on for years?

Question is, should we be going back to the old school systems?
 03 August 2015 09:51 PM
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leckie

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Joined: 21 November 2008

Unfortunately that will not happen, so it's a pointless conversation.
 03 August 2015 09:54 PM
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SouthernSpark

Posts: 187
Joined: 01 August 2014

Originally posted by: leckie

Unfortunately that will not happen, so it's a pointless conversation.


Why won't it happen? Money Vs Standards?
 03 August 2015 09:57 PM
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leckie

Posts: 4323
Joined: 21 November 2008

I just don't think that colleges are going to be encouraged to teach tradional wiring methods, and businesses most definitely will not. If that is what you meant. Maybe I misunderstood what you meant, if so apologies.
 03 August 2015 10:04 PM
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BrucieBonus

Posts: 1035
Joined: 20 February 2007

What are the going daily/hourly rates for this type of work, John?

Not for me, of course (I'm just a regular t and e type of spark, although I do know the purpose of an RCD).... just be interested to know how it compares, and maybe this is why the positions are still vacant
 03 August 2015 10:32 PM
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SouthernSpark

Posts: 187
Joined: 01 August 2014

Originally posted by: leckie

I just don't think that colleges are going to be encouraged to teach tradional wiring methods, and businesses most definitely will not. If that is what you meant. Maybe I misunderstood what you meant, if so apologies.


I think we are talking about the issue of installers and sparks, or at least thats how I read John's post.
 04 August 2015 06:52 AM
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normcall

Posts: 8514
Joined: 15 January 2005

When I knee high to a grasshopper, it was the local electricity board that did most of the domestics and a lot of the others. The few private companies ended to carry out out the large scale projects like industrial. As this is in the south only to be expected. Then the boards started to contract and the private companies down sized - along with standards.
As with the others, it seems that the experience has gone, training concentrates on calculations rather than proper theory and we are left with those who just have a bit of paper.
In fact just like the driving test. I understand they have a good grilling over the highway code and more day to day motoring than in my day. So why do we have a parking problem everywhere and 'undertaking' on motorways is considered normal?
I'm obviously just getting old as I actually remember the 'push and twist' system for metal conduit being introduced and even then concerned that the spring seemed a little flimsy to carry large fault currents, this being in he days when 3036 and 88 overload was normal.

-------------------------
Norman
 04 August 2015 07:33 AM
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leckie

Posts: 4323
Joined: 21 November 2008

Well in the early seventies when I started, most could do MICC and steel conduit/trunking installation. Labour was relatively cheap. Then there was raging inflation, industrial unrest and large increases in labour costs over a fairly prolonged period. The seeds were sown for pressure on reducing labour times and therefore costs. Out with the rawplug tool, in with the hammer drill, etc.

Then we had plastic conduit and trunking coming in replacing steel in many installation types, commercial and light industrial. Then FP replacing MICC.

So then colleges stopped teaching how to install MICC, it's no longer part of AM2 I understand. And only a basic requirement for steel conduit installation in AM2. Proportionately less steel installed means most small companies never install it and do not even own a pipe vice, so trainees are not generally taught this in the workplace.

So supply and demand, along with commercial pressure means that we have far fewer electricians that can carry out all aspects of the work.

What can be done about it? Well you cannot expect companies to train people to carry out installation practices that are being used less and less can you? Colleges don't teach it. My most recent apprentices, about 5 years ago now, were taught very little practical skills or regulations at college full stop.

So that,I believe, is the situation. You cannot expect the army of micro electrical business's to train up skills they no longer require, colleges do a bare minimum, so who should teach the future trainees?
 04 August 2015 07:48 AM
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Zoomup

Posts: 3271
Joined: 20 February 2014

Originally posted by: leckie

I just don't think that colleges are going to be encouraged to teach tradional wiring methods, and businesses most definitely will not. If that is what you meant. Maybe I misunderstood what you meant, if so apologies.


I agree. Colleges are mainly concerned with financial income these days. I personally viewed lectures in a college as I was considering lecturing work. No way. The kids were very immature, could hardly read and write, and their concentration span was a few seconds if you were lucky. The lecturer had them playing games on their phones to entertain them. The old skills will definitely be lost sooner than later. As for supervision on site, it is "do as I say", not "do as I can do" with the managers these days.

Bye,

Z.
 04 August 2015 08:07 AM
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lyledunn

Posts: 1107
Joined: 13 August 2003

Many years ago I was an attendee at a development meeting for the training of apprentices. The director of the organisation responsible for electrical apprenticeships at the time in this part of the world alluded to the need for a steady supply of "knuckle draggers" qualified to NVQ Level Three. These young people would then fill the pool of labour required to do the mundane tasks such as that of installing wiring systems. Those youngsters with an above average grasp who would eventually become foremen, supervisors, managers etc would eventually float to the top of said pool. In a nutshell this, he argued, was what the local contracting industry wanted.

-------------------------
Regards,

Lyle Dunn
 04 August 2015 08:57 AM
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tomgunn

Posts: 3916
Joined: 25 May 2005

I sometimes feel I want to get back on a large site - setup an intake room... run metal conduits, haha and the bleedin obvious... runs of MICC - but where do you start these days? The thing that puts me off is chatting to a young sparks at my sons BBQ a week or so ago - he has to wear a stupid hard hat - stupid protective glasses that become scratched and also hobnail steel capped boots.... I used to wear the high viz jackets when I worked for Balfour Beaty... Bob Young was the main man there and told me if I ever wanted a permanent job with them to call him - anytime! Ah, the high viz coat - I found if I wanted something from my items beneath it got in the bloody way - it snagged on everything ... 'why can we not sign something to accept liability and not wear all this rubbish' is what this young sparks asked... something I have often wondered about! He also said that ladders are banned on his site - its all gone too far ... no - dont get me wrong here - I am not having a rant... those days are long gone but it just seems a shame whats going on and also the mass influx of foreign workers too. I sometimes like the idea of doing the 3 phase busbar and running everything from there... I am not saying how great I am either... its just what I did for donkey years... as far as I know no one uses MICC anymore... and yesterday I looked like a complete plonker with my thoughts on the stocks and dies and then John pointed out whats new for threading BE / Galv conduit.... hahaha and a BIG arghhhhhhhhh! Sorry about that!

So, where do you go from there? As stated the colleges are only too keen on banging out domestic sparks... take their money and thank you very much... then some clever guy changes the 2391 or similar and then its back to college to do a new level so that they can make even more money.... oh well... gotta go now... good luck!

Tom

-------------------------
Tom.... (The TERMINATOR).

handyTRADESMAN

Castle Builders
 04 August 2015 09:33 AM
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tomgunn

Posts: 3916
Joined: 25 May 2005

BTW John... I wonder what the going rates for these old-timers now? What I have read on this forum is that its around £15 to £20 an hour... at best.

Tom

-------------------------
Tom.... (The TERMINATOR).

handyTRADESMAN

Castle Builders
 04 August 2015 10:27 AM
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SpencerHenry7671

Posts: 7
Joined: 29 June 2015

Poor conditions for work, ridiculous expectations time wise for this "quality work" they expect, poor rates of pay (if some contracting companies decide if their eventually going to pay you at all) I get paid the same working in house for a company and I get to go home every night.

-------------------------
Spencer Henry

http://www.spencerhenryelectrical.co.uk/
contact@spencerhenryelectrical.co.uk
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/spencerhenry
IET » Wiring and the regulations » SKILLED ELECTRICIANS

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