Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Building a better future was the headline of last weeks National Apprenticeship Week. The aim of last week was to put Apprenticeships firmly back on the map and instil their value amongst key people – teachers, parents and the students themselves.
Here at Fulcher Edwards, we're very passionate about apprenticeships – in fact we're committed to ensuring that each of our electrician apprentices build a better future. The Managing Director here at Fulcher Edwards, Michael Fulcher was an apprentice once himself so he knows first hand the value of electrician apprenticeships and the career opportunities that can arise once the person is qualified.
This week, we're opening our doors to the 'inner workings' of Fulcher Edwards and what better place to start than by introducing our electrician apprentices to you. They're all being expertly trained by all our electricians here in London and we're pleased to say, that our electricians do stay with us. In fact Fred who is one of our senior electricians, has been with us for many years following completion of his apprenticeship and is a great asset to our company. Managing Director Michael remains very hands on and is always giving practical and technical advice to our engineers and apprentices.
We have two electrician apprentices with us at the moment:
Bobby first contacted us about an apprenticeship when he was 15 years old and awaiting his GCSE results. His apprenticeship started with us in July 2009 and his college course began in the September where he would would take 1 day out a week to attend Bromley college. Nearly 4 years later and Bobby is still with us but he is now a fully qualified electrician. He is of course still learning but now has certain jobs he is able to carry out by himself and he even has his own role at the company by carrying out the monthly emergency lighting maintenance at our offices in Waterloo and what was the old international terminal where Eurostar was based. This is a vast area of space that is still maintained by Fulcher Edwards Ltd and Bobby not only carries out the testing but any remedial works required and relevant paperwork like updating log books and certificates. Bobby is furthering his education by now taking another course in Level 3 Electric & Electronic Engineering at North West Kent College.
Alex started with us in January this year and had already completed his Level 2 however he had no practical experience what so ever and works alongside our fully qualified electricians whilst learning the technical at college. These last couple of months Alex has been very keen to learn and has already been involved in many different projects by assisting our electricians in domestic and commercial projects. He is currently taking his level 3 at OLCI Construction College. We generally take on apprentices from the early stages of their course but we could see Alex was eager to learn the practical and unfortunately due to the economic climate he had not been given the opportunity and been let down with other work placements in the past.
At Fulcher Edwards we have always taken on electrician apprentices since the business was established back in 1981. We have heard the stories about apprentices who complete their training and don't stay, however we have not had that problem. As a family business we treat our apprentices as part of our family and by doing this they have felt part of who we are and stay with us. We provide investment and support every one of our London electricians and we firmly believe this pays off and this is why we fully see the benefit of taking on apprentices. We have had apprentices of all ages start with us over the last 30 years and every one of them has gained the experience required that we feel makes a great electrician.
It is important to us here at Fulcher Edwards that we continue to help the industry by training and passing on valuable skills to the next generation of electricians and helping them to build a better future.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
The availability of sub standard cable on the market is not anything new, the issue has been around for a fair number of years and it is a growing problem within the electrical industry. Sub standard cable is the result of importing cheap cable and unfortunately it is very hard to detect sub standard cable. It is a similar issue to the electrical appliance market which has seen record numbers of dangerous appliances being sold on the High Street. The products are copies of the genuine product – from the outside they look the same as the real thing and often its only when the product is used when the buyer realises it is sub standard.
Cable is much the same, from the outside it looks the same. Its only when a closer look is taken that a problem is found. Sub standard cable is a recognised problem across the whole industry with local authorities being heavily involved in detecting the sale of sub standard cable. Many cable suppliers have unwittingly purchased sub standard cable which in turn has been distributed to wholesalers and brought and subsequently used by installers. Many electrical installers have been caught out believing they have purchased a reputable and good quality brand of cable, to find it is not genuine.
So where does the problem start? It seems to be part of the manufacturing process in factories abroad where not all cable is not made to the correct specifications, such a situation is hard to monitor and all suppliers which purchase their cable from such sources are at risk of sub standard cable. There have been calls to regulate the import of sub standard cable.
In a move to promote UK manufacturing, the Prime Minister paid a visit to Prysmian cables where he opened a £2M high voltage testing laboratory. This facility tests extra high voltage power transmission cable at 1 million volts. The laboratory will be a central resource for Prysmian worldwide operations which hopefully will go some way to tackling this major problem.
Sub standard cable is close to the hearts of everyone who works in the electrical industry and the Prime Minister has pledged support to tackle this huge problem saying that he recognises the problem with sub standard cable and will investigate at European level to see what can be done.
We welcome this move at Fulcher Edwards. As one of Londons biggest electrical contractors we are very aware of the problem of sub standard cable and would welcome a move to stamp out this problem. Bringing UK manufacturing back into the limelight and the government showing increasing support for UK manufacturing is a great thing. With more companies now bringing their manufacturing operations back to the UK (many of these are electrical related) we at Fulcher Edwards hope that cable will be one of them so we can buy once again with confidence.
In turn this will ensure the safety of those who put their trust in us – and their family and friends.
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Have you ever fancied a role reversal at work, perhaps you fancy spending a day as the director?
This is exactly what happened at Pendennis shipyard in Cornwall when several apprentices were given a chance to run the company for 1 day whilst the 4 directors undertook their apprenticeship roles.
The directors undertook several tasks during the day including undertaking an engine realignment and other work within the fabrication, surface finishing and electrical teams.
One of the apprentices is a 4th year electrician. Spending a day becoming involved in the key decisions within the company allowed him to gain a valuable insight into the pressures and consequences of running a company.
Similarly, spending a day learning a valuable trade gave the directors experience of the challenges faced when actually carrying out the work. The day allowed the directors to expand on their skills and to see the changes that have happened in the industry since the days of their own apprenticeships. The senior staff members of Pendennis shipyard have all been through an apprenticeship themselves so were all keen to put their skills to the test once more.
At Fulcher Edwards, we think experiences such as these are a great way to grow a more productive workforce and one which understands each others responsibilities and demands. It is seen all too often when a disenchanted workforce see the directors as the ones who sit in their offices doing nothing whilst the rest of the workforce undertakes the work. It is always beneficial for all members of the workforce to experience other jobs thereby putting their thoughts into perspective.
Next week (11-15th March 2013) is National Apprenticeship Week which sees a celebration of the valuable contribution apprentices make to the workforce and how beneficial they are to the economy and their own future. Having been electrician apprentices ourselves we think the National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements and benefits that apprenticeships being both to the workplace and the individual.
An apprenticeship also proves testament to the hard work that is undertaken in order to learn a trade and gain much needed experience and expertise. Experience and expertise are two values that we are very proud of here at Fulcher Edwards and we firmly believe that anyone who carries out electrical work should hold these values at the forefront of what they do.
Experience and expertise have allowed us to provide a high standard of electrical services, fire alarm and emergency lighting maintenance to domestic, commercial, industrial and property management clients for the last 30 years throughout most of London and areas within the M25.
It would be an interesting experience having a role reversal day here at Fulcher Edwards. If we ever do one, we will be sure to post our experiences here on our blog!
Here at Fulcher Edwards, we're looking forward to the National Apprenticeship Week – it looks like its going to be pretty action packed!