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Discuss I thought short courses were fine. Just done a week on site. Now i think they're not fit for purpose. in the Electrical Forum area at ElectriciansForums.net

CamoElectric

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This might be long so feel free to grab a brew.

So, as some of you may know, i'm a 34 year old who has been dying to get into the industry. I have fought for years to get someone to take me on and have been unsuccessful despite having a background in construction (I can basically build a whole house on my own) and can do the electrical basics.

I was so frustrated for years that I thought the only way I could get into the game was by doing one of those 16 week courses that promises to get your Level 3 C&G. I've actually signed up to one of the providers and then backed out on two separate occasions - one of them cost me a £150 deposit.

While I still think that sure, they're great at cramming and you get the exact same theory as someone on an apprenticeship route gets, it's become apparent to me that in the real world they're not worth the paper they're written on even if you get the same theory. Why? Experience. It's missing.

I thought, sure, once I can wire lights and sockets etc I can just apply it to any situation. I'm now not sure it actually works like that.

So what changed? I GOT A JOB. I'm on a 2 week trial for a potential traineeship/apprenticeship with a bigish (18+ blokes) firm in my area.

I like to think I'm alright at the basics already - I could rewire a house if I really needed to. But my it's been a shock and a real eye opener as to just how you cannot replace experience.

So day 1, I get sent to a massive factory which makes car parts and I'm helping put in 120 SWA. This stuff as I'm sure you know is the thickness of a 500ml coke bottle and heavy to boot.

I'm working in these two modules that have been unplugged and moved to a different part of the factory and then have to be connected back up again. They're in welding bays. It's absolutely manky. I came home looking like I'd been down a pit. Stuff isn't labelled up properly. There are cables missing. There are DB's all over the place in this factory, and also cabinets full of module switching, ethernet, and communication cables that all had to be sorted. There was electric shuttters. There was masses of massive cables that had to be tied properly and neatly. There was tonnes of unistrut and trunking as well as tray that needed to be installed and fitted correctly.

Day 3 I'm at a hospice doing emergency lighting tests. Then we go to a rented property and sort out some snagging - FCU's, light fittings, bathroom extractor, outside switched light.

Day 4 I'm at an airport putting in sockets and lights in conduit.

Day 5 I'm at a garden centre replacing lights.

This is just the first week. I now don't think it's possible to go from a short course into this big bad world of electrics with so many different kinds of jobs and be able to know what you're doing, qualified on paper or not. Putting in new cables is easy. Figuring out what someone else has done can be difficult.

If we ignore the technical aspect of the job there are just so many different fixtures and fittings available and they all get fit in slightly different ways. There's just no way. You cannot learn this from a short course.

I always thought those who poo-poo'd these courses were elitist jerks but I now realise why - they knew something I didn't. They're in the game, they're doing the work, they see it day in day out. Youtube house bashers make it look fairly straightforward and I still believe that when it comes to single phase domestic, it's still probably possible to do a short course and build up experience on smaller jobs.

But to be a proper electrician I now believe that you cannot become a proper well rounded electrician without actually DOING the job.

To those of you in similar situations to what I was - don't give up. I've been trying to get someone to take me on since I was 25 in 2012 and have had no joy. I'm now 9 years older and someone finally decided to give me a shot.

Keep plugging away and if you need to, enrol at college and try to convince someone to take you on on the back of that. Think twice about dropping thousands on short training which is going to leave you absolutely stumped at the first sign of a problem you're not familiar with.

Working on the job around other people who can show you the ropes is invaluable. I've already learned so much in my first week and I thought I knew most of it already. I knew jack. But I now have people to ask when I'm not sure, instead of trying to guess it myself.

Now the real learning begins.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Pretty Mouth

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Well done for getting the trial mate, and I hope you get the apprenticeship afterwards. Learning neither begins nor ends in the classroom. Out of interest, which course did you do?
 

CamoElectric

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Well done for getting the trial mate, and I hope you get the apprenticeship afterwards. Learning neither begins nor ends in the classroom. Out of interest, which course did you do?
I didn't actually do one - I always had doubts so always backed out even after paying. The thing with me is I need to know I'm going to have the skills and confidence to do a good job and to actually have the knowledge necessary to do it properly. I could have every bit of paper in the world but if someone asks me a basic question and I don't know the answer I'll know it's all pointless and I'd feel like a fraud.

I think doing one of those courses would leave me in that position - qualified on paper but clueless in real life.

So I backed out again earlier this year and concentrated on applying for jobs and getting enrolled at college. I'm on the EAL 2+3 which will take 2 years but if I get the proper apprenticeship they're gonna switch me over to the one day day-release.
 

SparkySy

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Yep I totally agree, did mine back in 95 -98 and always done a wide variety of work started off on factory maintenance, then did some house bashing and realized that wasn't what I liked, done warehouses, Council depots, waste recycling yards, a library and art Museum lots of farm work and all sorts even wired camper vans and a horse box!
The electrical industry is so varied and vast you never ever stop learning!
 

CamoElectric

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Spot on, Lad. Experience experience experience.

My apprenticeship back in '86 was much like that. Factory one day, house bashing the next... chicken sheds and farms...
Going to college for a 6 week block was a relief
I'm sure I'll be glad of it by the end of my time if I get taken on.

A great mixture of things and loads of variety. The thing is, half of it isn't hard but no matter how simple a fitting, if you've never seen how it goes together and it's not obvious it can stump you.
 

Phil L

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When I made the decision to join the electrical trade in 2007 I ended up doing a 16 week course that got me a level 2 qualification, although this taught me the theory it was soon apparent that my lack of practical skills were going to be an issue, from there I decided to take an apprenticeship to complete my level 3 and NVQ (3 years to complete) and quickly told myself that however quickly I could gain the qualifications on paper it was the practical side of the work that was more important, Whilst it is great to have lots of qualifications on paper they soon lose there appeal if all it is is a bit of paper,

keep going with the path you have chosen it is definitely the right one
 

CamoElectric

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Yep I totally agree, did mine back in 95 -98 and always done a wide variety of work started off on factory maintenance, then did some house bashing and realized that wasn't what I liked, done warehouses, Council depots, waste recycling yards, a library and art Museum lots of farm work and all sorts even wired camper vans and a horse box!
The electrical industry is so varied and vast you never ever stop learning!
I just think if i did one of those courses, I can imagine the scenario.

You get a job with a firm like who i'm working for now, and they send you to some massive farm with old shoddy 3 phase all over the place, wired up god knows how, and you're supposed to try to make heads or tails of it and you've only ever seen single phase on a piece of ply in front of you in a bay.

Naaaah.
 

CamoElectric

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When I made the decision to join the electrical trade in 2007 I ended up doing a 16 week course that got me a level 2 qualification, although this taught me the theory it was soon apparent that my lack of practical skills were going to be an issue, from there I decided to take an apprenticeship to complete my level 3 and NVQ (3 years to complete) and quickly told myself that however quickly I could gain the qualifications on paper it was the practical side of the work that was more important, Whilst it is great to have lots of qualifications on paper they soon lose there appeal if all it is is a bit of paper,

keep going with the path you have chosen it is definitely the right one
Thanks mate, glad it worked out for you!
 

CamoElectric

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Variety of work is the key to experience and you hopefully are going to get it. Some you will hate and find tedious and others you will want more.
I already figured out I don't like running cables but I do like any work that is cosmetic - so anything that's seen - sockets, switches, lights, trunking, any of that. I get real satisfaction from using the right tools and doing the job properly. When everything's level and neat.
 

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