Asking this raises a number of other questions. The plumber may be capable of connecting cables to the shower but does he know how to check that the existing cable can take the load current of the new shower? Does he know how to carry out all the required electrical tests that are required when installing new electrical equipment? Does he have access to the required test equipment to allow him to perform the tests (this equipment is expensives - in the region of £600+, and usually only carried by qualified electricians)? If he has access, is it the right equipment? Is it manufactured to the revelent BS or EN standards? Has it been well maintained and regularly calibrated? Does he have and can correctly fill out the correct electrical test certificate for the job? Has he informed you that you will need to notify the local building authority control (any electrical installation work that has been carried out in a room containing a bath or shower has to be pre-notified as a requirement of Part P). Oh yes I nearly forgot - there is also a charge payable to the Building Control Authority to notify works under Part P!

Are you starting to wonder if the plumber is the man for the job? If you have any doubt whatsoever, no matter how small - get a "proper" electrician to do the work. One who has undergone training and experience in doing the work. Engaging an electrician who is a member of a recognised 'Competent Person Scheme' will save you the cost and hassle of dealing with the Building Control Authority.

Have you made your mind up yet?

- Mark Jenkins

 

Alternatively, would you like to have a go at this yourself? Considering a career change to become an electrician? Access Training offer a number of bespoke electrician courses to people of all ages and backgrounds, from professional qualifications to DIY courses. With qualifications including general installation, Part P training, PAT Testing and more, we're certain we have the right electrical course for you. For more information call us on 0800 345 7492.

The question most electricians are asking in this day and age is which CPS (Competent Person Scheme) to join - there seems to be quite a choice out there. Does it matter which one we choose? We could go with the well known few or alternatively try one of the other scheme operators. What are we getting for our money?

Well let's be clear about one thing - they are all equal! Each scheme has to be approved by the Department for Communuties and Local Government (DCLG) and all have to meet the same criteria. No scheme can therefore be discriminated against and one scheme should not be a preference over another in any contractual specification. To do so would be against the law.

So in reality it doesn't matter which scheme you choose, it's down to personal choice. Some are better than others if you want to move into the renewables sector. Most are upfront and explain their charges clearly. Some will even give you stickers for your vehicle; others don't - you have to pay for them! Some offer a workmanship guarantee as part of your membership, with others you have to purchase this separately.

So in my humble opinion, shop around and go for the scheme that offers your company the best service for you. Every scheme has to assess you to ensure you are working to a competent level; that is the important factor in all this, not which sticker you put on your van.

- Mark Jenkins & Neil Thomas

Part P Changes

In 2013, the Government made important changes to Part P of the Building Regulations. These are the regulations that ensure that all fixed electrical installations in domestic dwellings are suitably designed, installed, inspected and tested to provide reasonable protection against becoming a source or fire or a cause of injury to persons.

These changes to the Part P of the Building Regulations consisted of two principel modifications, the first of which reduces the range of electrical installation work that needs to be notified. Previously, electrical work undertaken in kitchens (such as adding a new socket) or gardens (installing security lights) were among the work you'd need to be Part P qualified to perform without having to notify an inspector. However now these tasks will no longer be notifiable unless a new circuit is required.

There are three main areas where electrical work will still be notifiable due to Part P of the Building Regulations, and these are:

  • Any work involving the installation of a new circuit
  • The replacement of any consumer unit
  • Any addition or alteration to existing circuits in a special location
In this instance, "special location" can mean two things, the first of which is any room containing a swimming pool or sauna heater. Secondly, it is any room containing a bath or shower, where the space surrounding a bath tap or shower head extends vertically from the finished floor level to a height of 2.25m, or 2.25m from where the shower head is attached. This can also apply horizontally, where the bathtub or shower tray has a distance of 0.6m. Alternatively, where there is no bath tub or shower tray from the centre point of the shower head where it is attached to the wall or ceiling to a distance of 1.2m.
 
The second part of these changes to the Part P of the building regulations relates to the use of a registered third party to certify notifiable work. Previously, any electrician undertaking work that fell under Part P not registered with a competent persons' scheme was required to notify their local authority's building control. They would then send out an independent inspector who would determine if the work was acceptable.
 
However, these changes mean that electricians not registered with a competent persons' scheme have to get their work signed off by a registered third party. For more information, visit the official Government Part P document.
 
Are you looking to become Part P qualified? Not only will this enable you to register with a competent persons' scheme and allow you to self-certify your own work (saving you hundreds of pounds), but could also potentially provide you with a whole new area of work when the third party approval system is finalised. Here at Access Training we offer a wide range of electricial courses, including specific Part P Training. If you would like to find out more, give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

This is a question posed by many a householder, however of the reality is that it might not need to be changed. If the fuse board is damaged and there's a chance that people could touch "live" parts (risking an electric shock), then it does need to be changed.

The old fuse board will not meet the requirements of the BS7671 Wiring Regulations 17th Edition Ammendment 1 (2011). The fact that the installation does not meet the requirements doesn't mean it is illegal or indeed unsafe, however the new requirements are intended to make the installation "more" safe by reducing the chances of getting an electric shock.

In order for your domestic installation to meet the requirements of the "Regs" it must also meet the new RCD (Residual Current Device) requirements. RCDs cannot be fitted in older style fuse boards so if your installation needs to be brought up to date and made safer a new consumer unit will be needed.

There are numerous areas where RCDs are required, which should be rated at 30mA. These include;

  • Any cable buried in a wall or partition at a depth of less than 50mm from the surface requires protecting by an RCD unless it is protected by earthed metalwork such as conduit or trunking.
  • Any cable passing through a wall or partition that contains metal parts other than screws or nails.
  • Any cable that is installed outside the 'cable safe zones' needs protecting with both earthed metalwork and an RCD.
  • Every socket outlet rated 20A or less that is used by "ordinary persons" (i.e. home owners) intended for general use, require RCD protection.
  • Mobile equipment used outdoors rated up to 32A.
  • All circuits supplying power to a room that contains a bath or shower are required to be RCD protected.
If you ask an electrician to install a new socket and you do not have RCD protection, then this new work will need to meet the requirements. This could mean that your fuse board will need to be replaced so that the RCDs can be installed! This simple and relatively cheap job has now become much more expensive, but the end result is that your electrical installation is much safer.

Should you be planning to do this (or any other electrical task) yourself, have you considered taking one of Access Training's bespoke electrician courses? Whether you're looking to gain new DIY skills to help you around the home or professional qualifications in order to become an electrician, we can help you.

For more information contact us at 0800 345 7492.

- Mark Jenkins

Thinking of going self-employed? Need to join a Competent Person scheme? Well if you don't have the current entry requirements (an electrical installation qualification, 17th Edition Wiring Regulation qualification plus anything else your chosen scheme requires of you), you may well encounter problems if you haven't applied for membership by 6th April 2013.

As of this date entry requirements to a Competent Person scheme are changing. You will need a level 3 NVQ that includes installing electrical installations, Inspection and Testing of electrical installations and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations with building regulations.

Sounds easy? A number of awarding bodies have produced relevant qualifications, but the problem will be the time it will take people to achieve the required level of competence and produce a portfolio as the proof that all the elements have been covered. I would suggest that you will be looking at 18+ months to put the portfolio together!

The knock-on effect of this will be that no one will be eligible to join a Competent Person scheme for some time, causing a void in so-called competent persons. Home owners may find it difficult to find existing electricians that are prepared to take on small jobs - such as installing extra sockets (these are the kind of jobs newly qualified persons use to gain experience), as the current competent electricians will be looking for bigger contracts.

Does this mean home owners will be more tempted to "have a go" themselves? Causing mistakes to be made that could result in dangerous situations occurring? Possibly!

- Mark Jenkins

When British Gas, Scottish Power and other leading energy providers in the UK announced huge new increases to their gas and electricity prices in the last week, it was another piece of bad news for a huge amount of cash-strapped Brits who are struggling with their bills. 

However, the price hikes may be good news for electricians, or those planning on enrolling on an electricians course. But why? 

People turn to an energy alternative 

The recent British Gas rises – occurring not long after the company announced a profit of £345m in the first half of 2012 – are sure to prove key in persuading a large number of people to invest in producing solar power at home. Over the past five years, it can’t have escaped your notice that growing numbers of people across Britain are placing distinctive blue solar panels on the roof of their home; choosing to generate electricity through solar power. 

It is estimated that by installing solar panels, homeowners can save hundreds of pounds every year on their energy bills – while some homes with enough panels can become entirely energy-efficient, and free from the price rises of energy giants.  

And although Government feed-in tariffs (FiTs), which pay homeowners a small fee for every kWh they produce, have been reduced in the last 12 months, homes can still be paid hundreds of pounds a year just for creating renewable solar energy. 

Great news for electricians

Of course the huge surge in popularity of solar power has lead to many jobs being created across the country for fitters, salesmen and electricians, whose in-depth knowledge and experience is vital in assembling a kit that both collects and stores valuable solar energy for people’s homes. 

It’s very true that electricians provide an ‘essential’ service to homes and businesses, and as such are less susceptible to poor economic conditions than most professions, but the continued popularity of solar panels will only mean good news for both electricians and those who are looking for a dependable, interesting new career. 

Are you interested in making the most of the solar boom? For further information on training an electricians course, contact us at Access today – where we’ve a wide range of courses to suit your specific needs. Call us today on 0800 345 7492

Did you know that this week is national back week? From today until the 12th of October, National Back Week aims to highlight how important it is for trade professionals, electricians and plumbers to really look after their back and ensure they’re fighting fit and ready to give their all to their job.

Back pain is the second most common cause of long-term illness in the UK and without a healthy back it’s very hard to do anything – and even more so if you’re constantly on the move and performing highly practical tasks for your job. Whether you’re lifting, driving, stretching, climbing or painting, without a healthy back it is much harder to do your job properly.

That’s why National Back Week was launched by BackCare, the charity for healthier backs, to raise awareness of keeping your back in tip-top shape. But what steps can trades people take to ensure a healthy back?

Keep moving

Like all muscles, the tendons and sinews that make up your back get stronger the more often they’re used. So, a great way of keeping back pain at bay is by staying active. Luckily, as a tradesperson, you’re likely to be frequently on your feet, bending, lifting and using your back muscles, so they are likely to be pretty strong. If you have injured your back, remember that strengthening those muscles is the key to regaining your health, so try low-impact exercise like swimming.

Sit well

Although you’re likely to be frequently off your feet, many back problems arise as a result of poor posture while seated. So when you’re doing paperwork or relaxing at home, ensure that your back is straight and well-supported. Plus, be sure to frequently adjust your sitting position, as sticking to the same posture for a long period of time could lead to a repetitive strain injury.

Lift safely

Many back injuries occur as a result of lifting something that’s too heavy for you to cope, and it’s important to remember that no bravado and man-points can mask the agony of a bad back. So, when you’re next confronted by a package that’s too heavy to lift, ask a friend to help you with it, or transport it in pieces. By recognising your limits, your back will stay safe.

Here at Access, we provide a wide variety of plumbing, decorating and electrician courses that can suit your specific background, age and career needs. To learn more about our fun, flexible courses, explore the rest of the site or speak to one of our team on 0800 3457492. 

Thousands of people across the UK and Europe have enrolled on electrician courses over the last few years. And they have doubtless done so thinking of the fulfilling, interesting and varied workflow; the opportunity to meet a wide variety of customers and of course the great wages that can be earned by working as an electrician.

However, when these two Norwegian workers found themselves stranded on a power line, 85 metres (280 feet) in the air above a fjord for an entire day, they couldn’t have foreseen such a hazardous situation.

The pair were working on a power line high above a fjord in Nordfjord, western Norway, when a technical failure saw their basket stuck in extreme weather conditions. They were forced to sit in the basket for several hours, awaiting rescue, but when a helicopter arrived it couldn’t get close enough to them as a result of the driving wind and rain – and was only able to lower them down food, drink, phones and clothing to get them through the night.

After a long night stranded against the elements, in the morning they were supplied with abseiling equipment and – with a little help on the phone from trained alpine experts – began the 280 feet descent into a boat waiting below.

Jan Gunnar Hole, who led the company’s successful retrieval of the men, said that teaching them to rappel down to a boat was the “simplest solution”. He said: “The men were cold, of course, but when you’re climbing down from 85 metres there is a lot of adrenaline.”

The two men underwent health checks at a local hospital and were found to have no problems.

Are you looking to become an electrician? It’s an interesting, challenging job – though adventures such as these are far from commonplace.  Here at Access, we provide a wide range of electrician courses, regardless of your background, age, experience or career goals. To learn more about our fun, flexible courses, explore the rest of the site or speak to one of our team on 0800 3457492. 

 

The four month ‘tax amnesty’ that was set up by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), where Electricians in the UK owed tax at a greatly reduced rate closed on August 14th.

Under the Electricians Tax Safe Plan which was launched on February 14th, HMRC permitted a reduced penalty charge of just 10% to electricians who had failed to pay the current levels of tax. The amnesty was for electricians who have been trained on an electrician course while other tradesmen in the UK such as plumbers and decorators still had to face penalties of up to 100%, with criminal investigation possible in the most extreme cases.

The HMRC campaign was for anyone who installs, maintains and tests electrical equipment, systems and appliances and covers all tax owed.

Marian Wilson, head of HMRC Campaigns, said: "Electricians who think they owe tax should get in touch today and get their tax affairs in order, easily and on the best terms.

"If you cannot afford to pay what you owe all at once, don't worry. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to spread the payments. Once the disclosure closes on 14th August, electricians who have not come forward but are found to have unpaid tax liabilities will face higher penalties, rising to 100% of the tax evaded, or possibly even criminal prosecution.”

The Electricians Tax Safe Plan is the second campaign aimed at tradespeople; the first targeted plumbers and heating engineers and raised an estimated £510m for HMRC.

Considering a change of career? Access will help train you in a variety of trades, with an electrician course that can give you an interesting, competitive job. For a range of flexible thorough trade training courses across the UK contact Access today on 0800 345 7492.

Electrician courses and a toolbag are not all it takes to be an electrician. You need to have the drive and the determination to succeed in the industry, alongside a passion for learning and understanding. If you’re considering becoming an electrician, but you’re not sure whether the career is for you, check out our quick guide to the skills and traits which stand prospective electrical students in good stead.

Genuine interest
This is the only characteristic which really matters – the rest are just bonuses. You can overcome any problem or weak spot if you genuinely care about the area and truly want to learn and improve. The very best electricians are those who love what they do and haven’t simply ‘hopped on the bandwagon’ as the profession is stable and lucrative. Taking joy in technology, problem solving and working with electrics will ensure you pass electrician courses with flying colours and go on to have a promising career as a spark.

Eye for detail
An eye for detail is a real asset when undertaking electrical work. Being able to spot small issues within a big picture can be a big advantage.

In terms of actual eyesight, the work can be very precise and delicate which means that good vision is very useful indeed. If you haven’t had your eyes tested for a while, ensuring you have the correct prescription is a good idea.

Colour blindness is one area which many prospective sparks worry about. The Equality Act (2010-11) means that you cannot be discriminated against for a disability so there is no cause for concern. Very few varieties of colour blindness cause problems for sparks. Monochrome or red-green colour blindness can be problematic but they can be worked around if you have the patience, dedication and drive.

Hand-eye coordination
Electrical work will find you up ladders, in tiny corners, scrambling in attics –being relatively agile will help with the demands of the job. Equally, close electrical work with small implements can be very fiddly and painstaking, making good hand-eye coordination a good asset to have.

Problem solving abilities

Electrical work can sometimes be a bit like a great big sodoku. If you relish getting to grips with a problem and using logic and practical know-how to solve it, you should start hunting for electrician courses today!

Here at Access Training we offer electrician courses for all levels of ability, whatever your background and whatever your goals. To learn more about our flexible electrician courses, please explore the rest of the Access site or speak to one of our friendly advisors today on 0800 345 7492.

The government’s fight against tax avoidance has had many targets over the past year. From self-employed tax return cheats, to tax-dodging comedians, the crusade continues. Now the subjects of the crusade are tradesmen who receive payment cash in hand, and the clients who facilitate it.

For many of us who have trained or are training on plumbing courses or electrician courses, cash in hand payment is a common and convenient form of working. Yet, according to Treasury Minister David Gauke, the government loses an estimated £2bn every year to what he describes as the ‘black economy’ – largely due to cash in hand payment for tradesmen.

Granted, there are opportunities for abuse of the system when cash in hand payments are made. It is simpler to pocket the payment and therefore avoid taxation, yet not every graduate from plumbing courses or electrician courses works in this way and a great number of those who accept cash in hand payments are scrupulous and honest about their earnings.

Mr Gauke has hit out particularly at those tradesmen who offer ‘discounts’ for cash in hand payments. Of course this area is particularly difficult to police. For those tradespeople who manage payment in this way the arrangement is beneficial both for themselves and for their clients. The taxpayer’s money it would take to tackle the minority who operate in this way would far exceed the gains to be made by ensuring every single transaction is fairly taxed.

There is strong opposition to Mr Gauke’s comments regarding the “moral wrongness” of cash in hand transactions. Labour MP Austin Mitchell has denigrated Gauke’s remarks as “petty”. Equally, just a short time after the MP’s expenses scandal, hints of governmental  involvement in the Leveson enquiry and frankly shocking evidence of the immoral actions of banks like HSBC in Mexico and Barclays worldwide, this accusation of immorality seems really rather rich.

Are you an alumni from our plumbing courses, electricians courses or other types of trades training? What’s your preferred form of payment? Do you accept cash in hand? We’d love to hear from you on this subject.

If you are considering enrolling on plumbing courses or electrician courses, Access will help train you in all areas of your trade. From hands-on technical work, to running your business and working out tax - for flexible, thorough trades training courses, across the UK, contact Access today on 0800 345 7492.


Colleges and further education establishments have been criticised for providing training in areas which have very few real life job prospects. Meanwhile, with an excess of electrician and engineer positions available, colleges have not been encouraging enough students to enrol on electrician courses and their ilk.

This year it has emerged that 94,000 hair and beauty students completed training only to find that there were just 18,000 new jobs available in the sector. Media professionals and personal trainers are facing an identical problem – with thousands of new trainees every year and too few positions available to allow them to begin careers.

Electrician courses undersubscribed

Meanwhile, there are distinct gaps in the types of training which are being taken up. In areas where more newly qualified professionals are required, there simply are not enough students interested to fill the labour gap. Electrician courses, plumbing courses, engineering training and training for environmental work are all undersubscribed. An astonishing 40,000 students trained to fill 72,000 new positions in engineering and building. In the world of construction, 123,000 newly trained alumni had the pick of 275,000 positions.

Further educational focus is misplaced

The LGA (Local Government Association) is furious that educational establishments have not yet managed to find the correct balance to address this issue – especially at a time of high unemployment. According to one spokesman, the problem lies in colleges focussing on exam results and pass rates instead of ultimate job prospects. The drive to attain the best pass rates and secure the highest level of funding can lead colleges to encourage students to undertake easier ‘popular’ courses, like hair and beauty.

Alongside the surplus beauticians and joblessness there is another problem. In an economy where unemployment is rife at least 17% of job vacancies are attributed to skills shortages.

There are so many opportunities for fresh trainees in the trades sector currently, with an estimated 2 jobs available per student. If you’re interested in job security and excellent prospects, talk to Access about enrolling on plumbing, gas and electrician courses today on 0800 345 7492.