Over-Regulation and the Life of an Electrician

by Editor on April 12, 2012

Electricians carry out important essential work and are increasingly required to update their knowledge and qualifications. But is over-regulation pressurising experienced electricians into considering leaving the trade and what about the future for life as an electrician?

Constant Changes

I accept that electrical safety regulations have to change to keep up with new technology and as a working electrician I need to update my knowledge. But electricians seem to be thrown an increasing amount of hoops to jump through and are expected to pay for the extra time and effort it takes, just to keep doing their job. It takes a good deal of dedication to get trained up and start out as a qualified sparks in the first place and the constant updating and re-issuing of BS7671 Wiring Regs and related courses is a serious bone of contention amongst electricians.

This would be great if we were being paid accordingly but in my experience we are just seen as another trade as far as rates of pay are concerned. Operating as a fully qualified electrician (especially running your own business) has changed from being a regular construction trade job to something far more involved but in my opinion electricians have been de-valued.

Would I recommend anyone to become an electrician today?

Yes I would. It’s an interesting and challenging job and a cut above other trades as for as knowledge and responsibility is concerned (I suppose you’d call that job prestige?). By working for a company (or sub-contracting) where all the paperwork and training is organised for you it can still be a great career.

But in the present economic climate I wouldn’t recommend starting out in the domestic sector or going down the Part P route running your own small business. That’s partly what I do now. It’s interesting going through the process but a lot of effort to deal with all the paperwork, test sheets and registering jobs. On top of all that you’ve got to deal with customers, compete for work and make enough money to earn a living, which isn’t easy at the moment.

Regulation Overkill ?

As I mentioned before, in my experience most people view electricians as just another trade. I think we have respect but aren’t really appreciated for the service we provide (do I hear violins?). Very few builders, carpenters, decorators and plumbers have to update their qualifications or give any sort of certification for their work or may be held accountable the safety of end users of their installations in the same way as electricians. It’s not uncommon to come across plumbers who have de-registered for gas work and just concentrate on the plumbing. They don’t consider the cost (and aggravation) of re-training for a gas cert every few years is worth the effort. It’s also not uncommon to come across electricians who are considering leaving the trade due to over-regulation.

Over the past 20 years we’ve seen that whole industry has evolved around training, testing and regulating electricians and I guess that’s what upsets experienced sparks the most.  I’m in favour of  updating and improving my skills but when you’re at the recieving end of endless demands for re-training and updating your regs books you’d like to feel that you are actually adding to your value as an electrician, rather than simply keeping yourself in a job.

It seems to be a matter of- “If you want to be in the game you’ll simply have to play by the rules”. The electrical industry is a prime target for regulation overkill and maybe you need to have been around for a while to appreciate how deep it reaches.

The Future

In summary I’m saying, there should be regulation but not so much of it, it should cost us less, and we should be paid a fair wage for what we do. I guess it’s up to us to make sure we get all of these things.

Despite this, youngsters coming into the trade won’t know any different and they’ll take it all in their stride. Electricians and electrical work will always require some sort of regulation and re-training as technology evolves. That’s the nature of the electrical industry.

There will always be electricians and hopefully they will be respected for their knowledge and experience in years to come. An electrician’s life won’t be easy but I hope they will be valued enough to be paid an acceptable rate for doing a responsible and essential job.

These are only my views on the life of an electrician today. Have your say…

Are You Being De-Valued as an Electrician?

Check out some other sparkie’s views on the forums:

Talk Electrician Forum: http://www.talk.electricianforum.co.uk/electrician-talk-forum/19946-electricians-undervalued-2.html#post267295

ElectriciansForums: http://www.electriciansforums.co.uk/electrical-forum-general-electrical-forum/54872-electricians-being-de-valued-3.html#post506669

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Denis September 27, 2014 at 14:18

Reading this article brought back happy memories. I served my time with a large engineering company from 1964 till 1969 and finished with double the information that my father learned who served his time from 1933 till 1939. Now my grand-son will soon be an apprentice and will probably finish his training with double the information I learned. That’s what happens with time and new technology.

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