By November 1, 2016 Read More →

Train to gain

overview_0Training and education is the lifeblood of the electrical sector. From learning the necessary technical skills at apprenticeship level and beyond, through to keeping to abreast of the latest developments at seminars or in webinars, updating skills and increasing knowledge is a lifelong process.

This month we explore some of the latest developments in training and education in the electrical industry, from the government’s plans to increase apprenticeships and developing skills in emerging markets through to an examination of online educations tools.

For many Voltimum users, careers will have started as an apprentice at an electrical company. An electrical apprenticeship is the bedrock of the industry. The government recognises the importance of quality apprenticeships in raising UK productivity levels and is seeking to increase take-up to three million apprentice starts by 2020. It aims to do this by introducing a levy on the largest businesses in England. Firms with a wage bill of £3 million or higher will be liable for the levy, at a rate of 0.5% of payroll.

The ECA examines the impact that this and other proposed funding changes will have on the electrical apprenticeship scheme. The trade body argues that employers would be well advised to employ apprentices this year before current funding arrangements change from April 2017. The cost of training an apprentice this year should be at least cost-neutral and possibly even yield a small surplus as a result of the current level of incentives for the Trailblazer apprentice standard.

Of course, training should not stop at apprentice level. Skills need constant updating, and areas such as business development should always be addressed. The fire and security market continues to diversify and evolve, yet many electrical installers are missing out on this growing market, says ESP. The company is encouraging contractors to come along to its free, in-house training programmes, to see for themselves that they are already in possession of the necessary skills to diversify into the various sectors of the security market – CCTV, access control and fire safety.

Training is not all about learning new skills. It also needs to raise awareness of key issues such as health and safety. What about mental health and stress at work? Suicide kills six times as many construction workers as falling from heights, according to mental health charity Samaritans. A recent seminar organised by the ECA, BESA and CIBSE Patrons heard that depression and suicide was the “forgotten health and safety issue”.

The three industry bodies and Samaritans agreed that the seminar should be the start of a major initiative to address mental health issues across the building engineering sector including raising awareness and providing specialist training as part of health and safety programmes.

Training takes many forms. Fluke is offering an offline webcast and reference guidebook Electrical Power Explained (EPE) training package to train end users to become experts on power quality and energy measurements and to get the best out of their tools. The package is aimed at those who are planning to buy a Fluke power quality or energy management tool or who want to bring their theoretical knowledge to a higher level and thus enable insights in how to identify energy savings.

Recent years has seen a massive shift in training and education tools facilitated by the internet. Schneider Electric’s Energy University is one good example. The online, non-proprietary education tool for energy management and automation has grown to more than 500,000 registered participants worldwide.

Online seminars, or webinars, are another prime example. Voltimum has been running its successful webinar programme for a number of years now and we encourage users to take part in this free resource.

If you’re not learning something new, you can be sure your competitors will be!

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