View Full Version : Are colleges letting people down who want to get into the trade

07-04-2012, 10:58 PM
I am completely disillusioned with the city and guilds nvq level two and the tech cert ,
The training they give hardly includes any practical training what so ever , I worked with a chap the other day who has got through his 6127 but could not use a multi meter or
Identify a live wire , but he did know all about global warming .

The Viking
08-04-2012, 12:30 AM
To me there is an inherent problem in the way the courses are set out and the colleges operates.

If everything is done as the, legislators/planners/those who know, intended you will end up with a suitably trained improver to become engineer.
However, the programme is based on the colleges providing the theoretical knowledge and the students gaining their practical, hands on, experience with an outside employer. The student should then prove his or her competence in the practical parts by keeping a portfolio of works they done.

Unfortunately this system is abused from several different angles.
The colleges are accepting students who haven't got employment within the industry, sometimes even letting the student "look" at kit in the college's workshop and use that for their portfolios. Other times they let students get their qualifications as long as they promise to hand in a portfolio "sometime in the future".
Students borrow portfolios from each other or even buy them online.
Employers use the "apprentices" as cheap labour for filter bashing, cleaning, handy man duties and so on, then "help" them with their portfolios.

You can see where this is going...

At one point I interviewed a chap who had all his qualifications from the college but at closer inspection the only employment he ever had were as a burger flipper at the golden arches, he wouldn't even know a multi meeter if it hit him in the face. (If you are reading this, I do hope things worked out OK for you)



Kev The Tool
08-04-2012, 06:24 AM
this does'nt suprise me, i have come across a few companies with stories of sending apprentices to college and they come out knowing nothing but have papers to prove competency, i think its fair to say there are a small amount of colleges and training facilities that are good, but i personally know of a certain college in the black country that has churned out some complete idiots who shouldnt even be allowed to switch an ac unit on. because if they dont meet a certain pass rate the course is deemed non cost effective, and it therefore doesn't get the funding and then it will close the course, so giving the student a few answers to his exam questions is not such a bad thing , is it? (lol). i know of one guy who failed his 201 exam 9 times, before he passed it, now with multiple choice questions i reckon after 9 attempts you could pretty much put anyone in that room and they would pass. there are also a lot of independent training establishments who have jumped on the f-gas bandwagon. they should ditch multiple choice exams and go back to proper apprentiships, where if you didn't pay attention you were binned, not like today when you get a van and a vacum if your ****.

08-04-2012, 09:04 AM
I know the place

install monkey
08-04-2012, 09:40 AM
my lad is 18month into his fridge course and currently for the 1st yr he's had a indian teacher-so obviously communication wasnt easy,start of 2nd year,new tutor is english and seems ok,he jumped ship after 4month now he's got an ex mitsi technical dept eng-so we will wait and see-ive ensured he hasnt passed his driving to prevent him from shopping at the wholesalers( job title for that is gopher-go for this go for that) also as for onsite training-my lad isnt allowed to work with me-prob due to the hrs i work(i am crb cleared stu haha) and he works with another lad who only does 40hrs a week and only carries install gear- ive seen his service sheets- routine service to mitsi split- no model/serial numbers-no readings,comp current,pipe temps,air on/off-fault history-god help him if he ever left

monkey spanners
08-04-2012, 11:01 AM
I am completely disillusioned with the city and guilds nvq level two and the tech cert ,
The training they give hardly includes any practical training what so ever , I worked with a chap the other day who has got through his 6127 but could not use a multi meter or
Identify a live wire , but he did know all about global warming .

Same old same old, employers want a fully qualified engineer but without having to pay the going rate or train them.

Trainees want an engineers wage without putting in the years of poor pay and on the job learning, or heaven forbid! doing a bit of reading and such in their own time....

Years ago we had propper apprenticships and journeymen, but we also had jobs for life etc.... maybe its all just a sign of the times :confused:

08-04-2012, 12:17 PM
It's not just a UK problem ,It's the same over here .
A lot of fridge/A/C companys send their apprentices through the sparks course as the block release is done in shorter stints.
Generally what you end up with is a gimp who thinks he knows everything there is to know about electrics and motor controls.
Even the "fortunate" one's who go through the fridge course usually come out knowing less than when they went in.
The days of the fridge apprenticeship over here producing multi skilled personnel is a thing of the past.

It would appear the only chance apprentices have of gaining a good skill set and proper training is by serving their time with a small outfit or one man operation ,which due to the state of the economy is becoming more and more difficult as these operations struggle to survive against the bigboy's who can take work at cost or a loss just to get a foot in the door.

As Monkey Spanners said "Maybe it's just a sign of the times"

But one thing is certain "The future is NOT in safe hands"

Maybe if they invent a fridge game for the X-BOX we will see an improvement.



08-04-2012, 03:45 PM
I agree with all of the above .I was lucky and got to see some really good engineers at work, I built my
own rig and wiring board and worked like a horse so I got there in the end . In regards to college we just copied off a blackboard parrot fashion to get a certificate and it's makes me furious to know that a
System of training that clearly did not work four years ago is allowed to trundle on regardless.

25-04-2012, 03:43 PM
I did my C&G 30 years ago (Jeez where did the time go!!) and we did day release to college, the day was 9am till 9pm with practical after 5pm.
We had to complete an installation, in the workshop, commission it and then the lecturer would put a fault on the system which we had to find and rectify!
90% of the guys doing the current course would not get past the installation part of the practical!!!
The course should get back to basics and teach the theory and the practical so that whoever completes the course has a basic knowledge to take forward and learn on the job from proper engineers/mechanics.

26-04-2012, 12:49 AM
I completed C&G 2355 & 6017 almost 10 years ago now.

It was helpful, but not everyone in the class was making full use of the tutors' knowledge (Bill and Mick). One or two were there just to eat their lunch, Or go to the pub. Usually both.

I came out of that course with enough knowledge not to be dangerous. It took as long again to become really effective at my job.

I was cheap (foreign) labour, but apprentices, as we all know, cost more than just their wages... and I had to jump through hoops to stay in the UK to complete it.

Stu, let me know when that game gets ported to PC, then I might be able to make some progress! :eek::o

29-04-2012, 11:28 AM
Its a big problem in the UK!

I wasn't able to do a NVQ or equivalent college course, because there just weren't any around! And the one we did find barely touched on AC and Ref it was mainly a heating course.

This meant i had to start all my training hands on with an experienced engineer, then after about 12 months i went off on my own, as i progressed i went along and did my CITB courses in Brazing etc, which was a competency thing, incase i set fire to a place :D

The theory just came along naturally and with a bit of research and home learning at night...Enthalpy charts etc.....yaaawwwnnn

The biggest problem is engineers who have a college course fool themselves into thinking they know it all, and unfortuantely they aren't willing to say anything when they don't know! And with no "on the tools training" they can be a liabilty, its great knowing the GWP of every refrigerant known to man, but that info is no good when the Multimeter is set wrong and you go bang and fly across the plant room!

It's sad to say but most of the guys i did my F-Gas training with had no idea, and they were a mix of Install Guys old and young and service guys! Engineers are only as good as the attitude towards learning etc


29-04-2012, 01:50 PM
Its been going on since the very early eighties, with the introduction of the Y.O.P. sheme lasting for 6 months and the chance of a full time job at the end of it (ha ha). And then came the upgraded version Y.T.S. which was for 2 years and was compulsory if you didn't have a job.

On the YOP the majority of people on them were abused and treat worse than slaves in some establishments. In my home town of Keighley in Yorkshire I left school in 81 and there were about 7 apprenticeships for over 300 school leavers and nearly 300 jobs under the YOP scheme. Some of the jobs advertised on the board in the careers office were for cleaners, pig farmers labourers, moulders, turners and millers, mill workers, and road sweepers for the council. And all under the YOP scheme.

The wages were only 19.50 a week and the wages for an apprentice were 30.00 + a week, with the condition of college day release or EITB or CITB block training. Whereas on the YOP there were no such opportunity for college. Although after somebody causing a stink about the poor working conditions it turned out that college was to be included if the job involved working up to a skilled level. Also holiday entitlement was also included but employers were reluctent to honour the time off as they were short of a shop lad and a tea maker for the day.

I worked on three of them, 2 for six months and 1 for three months at college. Which were created as a means to get young people of the dole to reduce the unemployment figures. The other two didn't lead to a full time job, but I ended up with experience of brewing tea, sweeping up, going to the shop, and a little bit of welding and fabrication experience which didn't really get me another job as other emplyers questuoned my previous experience. But they and the previous companies, always had another vacancy for yet another YOP. I eventually ended up with a job at an air conditioning firm as a trainee engineer/labourer carrying out installs, electrical, floors, ceilings, partitions, and fire protection and detection in computer suites. I already had experience of electrical with helping my mate and his dad who was a sparky whilst I twagged school.

Later on in the eighties there was a skill shortage due to mainly the fact that there was not enough proper training going on previously. So this led to short term crash courses being available to make people skilled? much quicker than it used to do. And in turn the quality of work and the level of skill being substandard in some areas. I have always beleived that it takes time to train any skilled worker, 3 to 5 years shoud be enough time on the job, then whatever the time at college takes. Having qualifications only helps settle a dispute over payment and technical capabillities so it is reccomended that you gain them if the chance arises.

I myself only have the CITB/2078 and the 2079 for refrigeration but many more for electrical disciplines. But I honestly beleive if you have the relevent qualification for your job it should be with you for life without having to resit exams every few years just to prove to some government agency that knows nothing about your trade that you're capable of doing your job. When they in turn only read and implement legislation that can be read by anyone.

In Canada you have to be able to prove around 9000 hours (4.5 years) of experience before you can challenge the Inter Provincial Red Seal exam which permits you to work in that particular field once you have your licence. And the licence is with you for life without having to resit every time they bring out a new set of regulations/code.

What I'm saying is I blame the get rich quick attitude that's constantly being imposed on everyone since the Tory government in the eighties. Privatised industry has adopted this attitude and caused their suppliers to do the same to be able to tender and compete. Causing a knock on effect in standards of overall quality and standards being lower than what they should be.

I had a couple of improvers work for me on a casual basis a few years ago when I had an electrical contracting business. And they told me that there was no practical training whatsoever on the course that they had just completed. They didn't even do the workshop competencies that are equivalent to the JTL AM2 test. So I had to keep my eye on them a lot more than I intended to.

I also remember a thread on another site about electricians planning to go on strike in the UK regarding the attempted deskilling of the trade due to new methods and working practices. This was due to the introduction of cable basket over the last 15+ years and the 16th and 17th edition regs/code making the regulations on using flex on fixed wiring more understandable and acceptable. So allowing the fabrication of extension leads with industrial plugs by non qualified operatives. To be delivered to site and dropped into cable baskets and plugged into busbar trunking and distboards by electricians. The firm trying to implement this were Balfours and they deemed paying electricians a skilled wage for installing in this way, an uneccessary overpayment and causing an inflated qoute to be submitted to the client.

If the implementation ever goes through the standard of training will be dropped for commercial electricians and causing yet another reason for colleges to omit certain areas of training.

29-04-2012, 05:26 PM
I must admit it amazes me some of the young lads who manage to get through college.
I have worked with a number of apprentices in my time and i take the time out to teach them and i can honestly say i have had great success some times its the way you explain things and it also takes patience and persistance with the youth of today. They used to love working with me as i used to set them homework ie detailed descriptions of say changing a tx valve or small compressor etc once they had done this with me.
I totally agree they don't get enough hands on experience in college, also the time some get at some companies they are used as pipe monkeys thats not learning nothing. No disrespect to some time served engineers out there who just do install work im sure you could sort out a system if it went wrong.
From an apprentices point of veiw who wants to learn no wonder some lose interest.
Some of use engineers on the ground working with these appentices are partly to blame and companies they work for in my honest opinion.
To some companies they are just cheap labour, How many of us engineers who have been in the game a number of years can honestly say we was not given time to learn with an engineer who was willing to teach us. I was told i will explain this to you 3 times max so f****n learn and dont waste my time, but he was willing and i was s***t scared of wasting his time but he helped make me the engineer i am today.