Taking Responsibility for your Professional Development

British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) is a recognised leader in product certification services for electrical cables. Dr Jeremy Hodge, chief executive of BASEC talks about taking responsibility for your own professional development in a difficult economic climate.

Being an electrician is a technical and highly skilled job which requires you to be very hard working and committed. Electricians are needed in a wide range of industries and there are good job prospects for newly qualified electricians particularly as there is currently a recognised shortage of electricians in the UK. It is also anticipated that many practicing electricians are coming to retirement age and so this will further increase the demand for electricians with the right qualifications and experience. Time to find a job Manufacturing and engineering companies commonly employ electricians, as do construction companies which often work on a job-by-job contract basis. However, with the banking crisis and inevitable down turn in the economy over the past two years, the construction industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit. Most construction jobs are project-based therefore the amount of construction is dependent on capital investment which during a recession is not as readily available. Employment in the current climate might still be unstable and there may be fewer openings in apprenticeship programs. This could lead to many electricians becoming self employed. Being your own boss Before starting up your own business, you need to ensure you have a full electrician qualification for example: City and Guilds and are registered with the NICEIC or another of the inspectorates. Being self employed can be more profitable but you are responsible for the full specification and installation of electrical products and systems. The Part P requirement states that anyone carrying out electrical installation work in a home must, by law, make sure that the work is designed and installed to protect people from fire and electric shocks in line with Building and Wiring Regulations for England and Wales. Work must meet the UK national standard, BS 7671 (Requirements for Electrical Installations) and as homeowners are no longer able to do their own electrical work without it being signed off by a Part P registered electrician, the customer will expect an Electrical Installation Certificate or Minor Works Certificate that confirms that the work meets BS 7671; and a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate that confirms that the work meets the Building Regulations. Taking responsibility When specifying electrical products and systems, your priority must be to ensure quality and safety and, in terms of cables, you are using the right cable for the job. Often it is not until cables are installed and tested that a problem is discovered and by then it can be too late to avoid the enormous cost of rectifying the situation. To help safeguard against the risk of installing cable which is substandard, electricians should ensure that the cable supplied by the distributor is the correctly specified cable and always check the markings on the cable sheath - not just the packaging. For peace of mind, you should also insist on an independent third-party approved cable with either a HAR, BASEC or LPCB mark. It is also important to specify on your order the British Standard (BS) number the cable should be made to. Here is a short guide to different types of cable commonly used in domestic and light commercial buildings. Low smoke cables In many applications such as schools, hospitals and retail, low smoke halogen free cable types are taking over from PVC cables. Examples are BS 7211 installation wiring and BS 6724 armoured power cable. Although physically similar to their PVC equivalents, they do need careful handling as the plastic materials are stiffer. Data cables Electricians are increasingly asked to install complex systems involving a combination of power and data cables, such as distributed security using 'power over Ethernet'. Fire performance cables Demands by architects for more open buildings has made fire protection systems more complex and challenging for power supplies. New cable types have been developed, which need additional understanding when installing them, for example the new BS 7846 types. Testing methods When installing electrical products and systems you must ensure all the necessary electrical installation verification tests have been performed. For example: earth loop impedance and ring continuity. Any performance concerns following this test should be investigated immediately to ensure circuits are safe or need protection enhancement. Customer service Good customer service is all about bringing the customers back. Positive word of mouth, especially in this industry, is one of the strongest marketing tools you can have, so make sure your customer service skills are as good as your technical skills. Give your customer clear, written documentation about what needs to be done, and when it will be done by - and stick to it. The customer needs to have confidence in your abilities so also take the time to explain the reasons for your specification and why it is the best option to meet their needs. Separate box Who is BASEC? The British Approval Service for Cables (BASEC) is a recognised sign of assurance of independent cable testing and approval. A non-profit making Government–nominated body, BASEC has for more than 30 years been a mark of reassurance to those specifying cable. The leader in product certification services for electrical cables, data and signal cables. All products are rigorously tested to meet necessary and appropriate British, European and international standards through detailed examination of manufacturers’ production processes and controls.

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