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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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 04 August 2015 11:15 AM
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leckie

Posts: 4320
Joined: 21 November 2008

Well there's the thing. If there were such a demand for sparks to install steel conduit, etc, and there was a shortage, then the rates for these installers would be far higher. So if a general subbing Sparks is getting say £17/hr in say Milton Keynes, what should a conduit installer command? JP thinks there is a demand for these guys, if there were and there was a genuine shortage, the rates would be much higher. If suddenly there were adverts for steel conduit subbies offering £25 per hour, the guys would soon get trained up. They can read up the theory, buy a bundle of tube and a bender and practice. If it represented an £8 per hour increase it would be worth it. But this won't happen because the higher rates are not being advertised so I can only surmise that there is not the genuine demand. Just odd pockets of demand
 04 August 2015 12:35 PM
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Delbot321

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Looking back at the original post the question was about the all round skill set of what used to be "Approved Electrician" which includes the ability to manage/control the installers, material flow, customer expectations as well as metal conduit, trunking, mineral etc. PLUS the bit that a lot of people forget is the underlying technical knowledge.

This, in my opinion, is more about education as a whole. School leavers or the like who have that level of ability today would be guided to university and not to further education college for a trade apprenticeship. When I left school 20 years ago the top 5-10% went to university, everyone else went to college or work. Now the top 45% go to university which means that there simple isn't the calibre of person entering the industry at the bottom end consequently you won't have people that can do the roles of "approved electrician" or "technician" coming up through the ranks. This percentage of people going to university has been getting steadily higher for the last 10-15 years.

It's also worth bearing in mind that there is also a whole new industry sector that has developed in the last 10-15 years as well - compliance testing, inspection & test, PIRs/EICRs - call it what you like but in order to do this kind of work you need to be time served (or equivalent) and well versed in both the current and historical regulations as well as astute enough to remain up to date with testing and pass on-going college assessments to show you are up to the job. This has taken up a fairly high percentage of the more experienced and knowledgeable electricians as you can't have 1 electrician supervising lots of lower level operatives as you can on a site.

The lack of salary is primarily down to market forces (supply and demand). Employers will always use the cheapest labour they can and unless there are accidents or a need driven by insurers to employ particular grades they will remain where they are. At present there are plenty of electrical installers so why pay more than they need to. It isn't until you get into the higher technical elements that you need a broader knowledge base and only then will employers be prepared to pay for it.

Universities have done a good "sales" job on promoting themselves, so until there is either a "degree" course to be an electrician or a change in peoples perception of a trades person we won't get the calibre of individuals entering the industry. This change may well be assisted by market forces as the demand for the broader skill set increases causing salaries to increase and so attract higher calibre people. Until then though the skilled electrician will be a rare breed.
 04 August 2015 01:35 PM
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MrP

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John

You surprise as someone who teaches "electrician" no such thing and you want skilled 2015 not 1915

MrP home for a week I just the rain
 04 August 2015 04:24 PM
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tomgunn

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Originally posted by: MrP

John



You surprise as someone who teaches "electrician" no such thing and you want skilled 2015 not 1915



MrP home for a week I just the rain


WTF? Dont understand?

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

handyTRADESMAN

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 04 August 2015 04:37 PM
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leckie

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Well I go back a lot further than 20 years, I left school over forty years ago. The exam required to be an Approved Electrician then was the B course, it took me 3 years on day release. To get Technician grade you needed the C course and that took a further 2 years of day release. The B course didn't teach you anything about management of job, estimating or the like, just theory, regs and practical. The C course taught the management side to some extent for a large project that was part of your grade, then more regs and theory, it was an excellent course. It included bits on Ex zones and the like as well as I recall.

C&G assess the C course at about NVQ 4 and the B course at NVQ3 I think.

So if you are NVQ3 level, I would think you need to do a bit of further study to have much idea about estimating, CDM, and all the rest of it.
 04 August 2015 05:40 PM
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Phillron

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It will be interesting to observe if anyone under the age of 40 or so confesses in this thread that they can indeed do the basic skilled work of industrial,commercial and domestic installation,ie working with Pyro,Metal ( real) conduit,make off some meaty armoured cable with a bit of machine maintenance thrown in for good measure

Its likely there will be few takers

The skill shortage discussed is also only going to get worse,with many real electricians getting past it and not in mainstream employment the mentors of these skills to the new brigade its getting all the more narrow in content

Its also not the concern of most older sparks,the industry has had meddling and unwanted change and the industry will reap what it has sewn
 04 August 2015 05:55 PM
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weirdbeard

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Originally posted by: John Peckham



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.


Perhaps there are too many sparks calling themselves contractors and expecting there to be a casual multi-disciplined highly skilled yet reasonably priced workforce available at short notice to help them out of a pickle as and when required?

-------------------------
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 04 August 2015 07:11 PM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: BrucieBonus

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


They won't be that high I suspect BB

It is probably true to say (and geography will play a significant part, I accept) that it's probably easier to make a living dealing with domestic clients who still hold dear to the idea of ever increasing house prices (and have a Guardianista attitude of talking about the installers craft skills over dinner whilst still despising them) - than it is to be a highly skilled approved electrician turning out quality work, but where the client actually knows the value of that work

I give you the example of "swapping out" the consumer unit for a 17th Edition Board - it's quite easy to charge about 3 to 4 times the price than the value that would be earned working within the contracting sector.

I think it was on here, quite recently, where the discussion was about changing a domestic DB being more than a days work - in my contracting days, that would be about 90 mins max for a simple single phase DB of say 8 or 10 ways (I accept that would generally be new work)

So - I guess we have an industry that won't pay the rate, and a whole group of installers who don't need the skills as they can still make the bunce required without them

Personally, I'll be sorry to see both the craft skills and the level of technical training embodied within indentured apprenticeships and the like go down the drain based on short term (and not so short term) attitudes that basically have done the level best to deprecate any craft or artisan skill in this country - it started way before Bliar, but Nu Labour did a lot to accelerate the demise - but that's what happens when you let bloody communists pretend to represent the working class (and I mean the working class, not the under class that is emerging today)

There is nothing peculiar about this from an electrical perspective - the pipe fitters now run push fit plastic pipe, they have compression jointed systems, most wouldn't know how to solder copper or thread black iron if thier lives depended on it - and as for welding the joints - forget it

We now have brickies gluing panels together, most couldn't build an inspection chamber in class A's and bench it - we use a pre formed plastic unit

We have chippies who only cut plastic and install manufactured components

We have plasterers who actually spend thier days on dot and dab, taping and jointing

All of the traditional craft skills are diminishing because the industry has found ways around paying for the high skill requirements in favour of low skill solutions.

Will we regret it ? - for sure we will, but by then it will be far too late to do anything about it I suspect

I guess I'm about the last of the era of indentured craft apprentice who learned the trade properly and when we are gone out of the system, there won't be many left to do the "sitting with mother" type teaching that's required to churn out highly skilled labour

Maybe it's no bad thing, though

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 04 August 2015 08:49 PM
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jamieblatant

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Originally posted by: Phillron

It will be interesting to observe if anyone under the age of 40 or so confesses in this thread that they can indeed do the basic skilled work of industrial,commercial and domestic installation,ie working with Pyro,Metal ( real) conduit,make off some meaty armoured cable with a bit of machine maintenance thrown in for good measure



Its likely there will be few takers


I am 33 and can do this but it's because I worked for one of these type of sparks when I did my apprenntaship

Also because of this I have been on my own 10 years and charge 35 quid an hour minimum up to 65 so I find whilst a lot of people want me for my skills only the ones that really want me will pay

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 04 August 2015 09:12 PM
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paulskyrme

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Phillron,

I come from the other side, I can do PLC/CNC/VSD/Servo Drive stuff, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, programming, pc's, networking, machine repairs, design, applications, H&S work, project management, panel building, electronics to module level, and even some component level stuff, industrial installs* etc.
I can to T&E, though I hate domestic, BIG SWA no worries, tray, basket and trunking, but, I've never really had to do much steel conduit*, and no MI*, because the roles I had never needed it.
I can do proprietary cables from previous employers including fibre optic.
I can rebuild motors and sort out closed loop feedback units, I can't rewind a motor, never tried, never been trained, and don't want to get involved.
*So my industrial works has never taken in steel conduit and MI, so outside training, and one or two jobs, and I don't mean employments, I mean tasks I have done in the way of jobs over the last 30 years, I've never needed it.
The same as I'm rubbish at steel pipework, threaded and hydraulic/ pneumatic, flared/compression.
I can do plastic pipes, push fit, solvent weld etc. done more of it and it's easier, it just depends on the roles thrown at you, I can do soldered copper, though I HATE soldering.
I can do MMA, TIG, MIG & OA welding & cutting, I can do sheet metalwork, and structural steelwork, I can pass as a turner & a miller, and a bench fitter, I can rebuild gearboxes on industrial equipment and other mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems.
I have been trained in rebuilding hydraulic pumps valves and cylinders and pneumatic parts also
Today was an electrical de-commissioning a CNC machine such that the control parts could be re-sold for a local shop fitting company, tomorrow is repairing a rotary deburrer for a local fabrication company, Thursday is fitting a water filtration system for a home haemodialysis installation for the local health trust..
Friday is a survey to assess the potential of a home haemodialysis installation for a patient with the local health board, then on to mechanically dismantle a very large CNC woodworking router, so that the customer can get it out of their building, again with an eye to selling the saleable parts.
Funny world.
So I guess I'm not a spark because I can't do MI & steel conduit.
I did do an apprenticeship back in the 80's.
That's not a dig BTW.
JIB gave me a Gold card though.
 04 August 2015 09:18 PM
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leckie

Posts: 4320
Joined: 21 November 2008

Originally posted by: OMS

Originally posted by: BrucieBonus



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




They won't be that high I suspect BB



It is probably true to say (and geography will play a significant part, I accept) that it's probably easier to make a living dealing with domestic clients who still hold dear to the idea of ever increasing house prices (and have a Guardianista attitude of talking about the installers craft skills over dinner whilst still despising them) - than it is to be a highly skilled approved electrician turning out quality work, but where the client actually knows the value of that work



I give you the example of "swapping out" the consumer unit for a 17th Edition Board - it's quite easy to charge about 3 to 4 times the price than the value that would be earned working within the contracting sector.



I think it was on here, quite recently, where the discussion was about changing a domestic DB being more than a days work - in my contracting days, that would be about 90 mins max for a simple single phase DB of say 8 or 10 ways (I accept that would generally be new work)



So - I guess we have an industry that won't pay the rate, and a whole group of installers who don't need the skills as they can still make the bunce required without them



Personally, I'll be sorry to see both the craft skills and the level of technical training embodied within indentured apprenticeships and the like go down the drain based on short term (and not so short term) attitudes that basically have done the level best to deprecate any craft or artisan skill in this country - it started way before Bliar, but Nu Labour did a lot to accelerate the demise - but that's what happens when you let bloody communists pretend to represent the working class (and I mean the working class, not the under class that is emerging today)



There is nothing peculiar about this from an electrical perspective - the pipe fitters now run push fit plastic pipe, they have compression jointed systems, most wouldn't know how to solder copper or thread black iron if thier lives depended on it - and as for welding the joints - forget it



We now have brickies gluing panels together, most couldn't build an inspection chamber in class A's and bench it - we use a pre formed plastic unit



We have chippies who only cut plastic and install manufactured components



We have plasterers who actually spend thier days on dot and dab, taping and jointing



All of the traditional craft skills are diminishing because the industry has found ways around paying for the high skill requirements in favour of low skill solutions.



Will we regret it ? - for sure we will, but by then it will be far too late to do anything about it I suspect



I guess I'm about the last of the era of indentured craft apprentice who learned the trade properly and when we are gone out of the system, there won't be many left to do the "sitting with mother" type teaching that's required to churn out highly skilled labour



Maybe it's no bad thing, though



Regards



OMS


You see OMS, your coming around to my opinion now

It's supply and demand, and nothing else.

Jamie has got it bang on. He's working for a client base that appreciates his skills and gets the recompense that he deserves I'm sure. But he has his own business. Subbing, you will never hit the jackpot. You have to take the risk to get the reward.
 04 August 2015 09:31 PM
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OMS

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You see OMS, your coming around to my opinion now

Not so sure about that, Leckie - I can be a stubborn sod

It supply and demand, and nothing else.

Agreed - but who drove the demand (or drove the demand out more accurately)


Jamie has got it bang on. He's working for a client base that appreciates his skills and gets the recompense that he deserves I'm sure. But he has his own business. Subbing, you will never hit the jackpot. You have to take the risk to get the reward.

Maybe - big time contracting was vey kind to me as it happens - at least it paid me enough to take time off and get some more education - and from there stop running around with the Drake's and NG Baileys of this world

And on that note, if Jamie is now 33 and he's been on his own for 10 years, then it would have been a very rare apprenticeship with a very old apprentice master indeed - so well spotted that there would be a gap in the market


.


Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 04 August 2015 09:39 PM
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leckie

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Joined: 21 November 2008

Well I started up at 20 so I could finish my C course and do an HNC. So it just shows that if you have a bit of determination you can get yourself sorted. You did it via the massive contractors, a great brain and effort of will, I did it via wanting to, and Jamie apparently did it by working for a skilled contractor who taught him well and his own efforts. So any electricians wanting to acquire a full skill set; try harder!
 04 August 2015 09:48 PM
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paulskyrme

Posts: 1285
Joined: 12 February 2003

Quite Leckie,
I did my HNC, BSc & Masters off my own back in my own time, yes I did get, some, employer support on times, but not full, and no time off for study, & all subsequent study for the last 10 years has been at my own cost and time, and I've done a bit, I'm on a course next week for the day, paid for by myself, and taking a day out of my own business, and travelling 150 miles to do it.
 04 August 2015 09:53 PM
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leckie

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Joined: 21 November 2008

A perfect example Paul, well done.
 05 August 2015 12:01 PM
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sparkingchip

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Joined: 18 January 2003

I do suspect that there are people looking back into the past wearing rose tinted glasses and in reality these "fully skilled and qualified" C course, technician electricians were always thin on the ground with a division of labour based upon the quality of the available workforce, along with a drive to keep employment costs down resulting in the metal bashing and termination being completed by a Craftsman qualified to what would now be level two, rather than and Advanced craftsman qualified to what would now be a level three.

Andy (City and Guilds Construction Technician)
 05 August 2015 12:32 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22359
Joined: 23 March 2004

Not that thin on the ground Andy - don't forget we also had such a thing in those days as the electricians mate

Approved electricians had good craft skills and more than a dozen brain cells

Electricians mates had good craft skills and a few less brain cells

Today however, we either have the brain cells or the craft skills - seldom are the both found within the same entity, because, if you have more than a dozen brain cells, they send you to university without bothering to teach you what a hacksaw or a file is used for

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 05 August 2015 12:49 PM
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sparkingchip

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I was in the local branch of major electrical wholesaler who have taken on a trainee/ apprentice who was waxing lyrical about being trained as a manager, yet he is currently incapable of serving at the counter without assistance from a guy nearing retirement age without having become a manager.

There is the thought that you can jump straight into jobs at a higher level without learning the hands on fundamentals, indeed I suspect many people fear that if they don't gain A levels and a degree they will never get the higher level jobs as they will be stigmatized if they undertake Craft training for a hands on job first. Apart from that it is easier to do the A level to degree route with student loans being available and it is also a life style choice.

There should be more support for people gaining experience as Electricians Mates to become Electrical Improvers allowing late starters to earn as they learn.

Andy
 05 August 2015 01:02 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22359
Joined: 23 March 2004

As I said, the Guardianistas love the idea of artisan skills but despise the artisans - it's a British thing

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 05 August 2015 01:26 PM
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phantom9

Posts: 1757
Joined: 16 December 2002

I am not being allowed to post a reply?
IET » Wiring and the regulations » SKILLED ELECTRICIANS

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