For a long time, the electrical sector has been calling for trainees who are ‘site ready’ and highlighting the need to align education to the needs of employers. Meanwhile, further education providers have been keen to work with employers to understand their requirements and generate learning and work experience opportunities for their students.
Ideal Industries, the global specialist in electrical tools and accessories, has partnered with Warrington & Vale Royal College in Cheshire to put these principles into action, and both sides can already see the benefits and how they will multiply over time.
Warrington & Vale Royal College offers a wide range of courses for school leavers, apprentices and adults, including training and re-training as electricians. Dave Love is the Curriculum and Apprenticeship Manager for Electrical Installation and, having worked on site as an electrician himself, he was keen to work with electrical supply chain companies.
“When Ideal Industries first approached us there was no specific plan,” Dave explains, “they are based locally to us and wanted to see how we could work together. We gave them a tour and talked through how we can help each other, and the relationship has snowballed from there.
”One of the challenges facing the further education sector is lack of funding, which sometimes means that students don’t have access to innovative new tools and equipment, making it harder for colleges to train them in the variety of installation methods they might be expected to use on site.“
It’s in the nature of training that things will get broken,” Dave continues, “that’s how we learn. But on limited college budgets it can mean that older, cheaper products are used, rather than broadening training to newer innovations. In the electrical sector, where there are regular developments both in products and regulation, working with manufacturers is an important way of keeping up to date and giving our students the skills they will need on site.”
Products in Practice
Ideal Industries has supplied the college with the company’s In-Sure Push-In and Lever Wire Connectors, enabling students to learn a faster and easier method for terminations, alongside the use of terminal strips.
Dave continues: “It’s important that we continue to teach students how to use termination strips but having Ideal’s In-Sure Connectors means that they have experience of newer techniques they may need on site.
“It means that they’re not just confident in using wire connectors but also confident about trying alternatives and using different tools and techniques, which makes them much more adaptable and workplace ready.”
Ideal Industries has also provided Safe Isolation kits to the College to support safety training for testing, locking out and tagging isolations.
“Safety is another important aspect of our students’ training,” Dave adds, “and our aim is to ensure that they’re familiar with the equipment they will need to use to stay safe on site so that safety becomes second nature.”
The benefits of the knowledge sharing partnership are just as clear for Ideal Industries.
Explains Brett Smyth, general manager of Ideal Industries EMEA: “Our products have been developed to help make electrical installations, faster, more cost effective, more compliant and more consistent, so we see working with the next generation of electricians as an important way of driving best practice in the sector.
“We also get a lot out of the relationship. Engagement with the students feeds into our product development process and we have access to all the technical know-how and latest industry learning and standards from the college’s teaching team.”
Moving forward, both Ideal and the college want to build on these foundations. Talks to the students from the Ideal team are planned for the next academic year, along with work placement opportunities.
Dave Love adds: “The value is not just in the electrical products and expertise that Ideal can offer, but also in the company’s commercial experience and workplace environment. Many of our students will be self-employed or work with small companies, so our partnership with Ideal Industries will help them understand about business as well as providing materials, knowledge and adaptability for their role on site.”