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Cliff’s Diary of his Train4TradeSkills Practical Training – Week 3

Well here it is again I am in Featherstone for week 3 practical training. I am not at all nervous this time and have had a week of revision on hot and cold water systems and environmental awareness, as these are the exams I will be having during the week.

I was thinking it was going to be a completely different group of people this week so i was pleasantly surprised to see one person from my group from weeks 1 & 2, Hi Jermaine hope you enjoyed your week as much as me, anyway I won’t get distracted with name dropping.


Its Monday morning and I have been on the go since 5.15am, as we start at 8.30 but everyone there at 8 chatting and introducing themselves, It’s a nice mix of ages and there are also two women in the group this week and 12 people in all.

Straight away the group is split into two for the week one group to do Low carbon steel the other doing airing cupboard we will swap over next week, so this week is LCS for me. I know it is going to be hard going as it the warmest day of the year so far and the humidity is really high. We start our day with an introduction to LCS cutting, threading and bending equipment and a bit of relevant health and safety as its dirty and lots of very sharp steel fragments around so gloves are well recommended to save on cuts and abrasions.

I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for how physically demanding LCS threading with stocks and dies actually is especially on such a hot day and by lunch time everyone is soaking with sweat and in dire need of a break. In the afternoon we are given our first assessment for the week which is a small jig similar to the one done in week 1 except in LCS.

This has to be accurate to within 2mm which is very difficult because of the nature of the material and the way in which it is jointed. I had this finished well within the allocated time and was able to spend some extra time doing some more complicated bends on the hydraulic machine bender to fill in the rest of my day, but believe me when I say I really needed a cold shower when I got home and my shoulders were aching badly.


Awoke very stiff in the shoulders this morning to another hot day even though the weatherman had promised rain overnight there is no evidence of it. I arrived for 8am and everyone in my group is feeling pretty sore today and wondering if it’s going to be like this all week and generally having a gripe about the fact that they never want to be involved in any LCS installations. This is a bit of a knee jerk reaction but I can understand where everyone coming from.

We have a different tutor today as the staff are a bit short handed this week and Neil who has been my tutor since week 1 has to take a different group. But Robert is also very good and easy to understand he gives us our other assignment for the week which is again in LCS with two radiators to fit into a bay with all the pipe work to be pressure tested. We also have to do our own materials list.

I get straight to work compiling a list of pipe, fittings and fixings, this has to be done straight out of a supplier catalogue complete with part numbers, description and quantities, as it is a requirement of the assignment along with a written summary description – more about that later. I just have time before lunch to mark out from the drawing into the bay where the installation is going.

In the afternoon I got all my fixings installed and cut all my tubing cut to length and the majority of the threading complete which is no mean feat when you consider how many threads are required, take another look at the drawing there are lots of threads necessary, so all together an exhausting day.


I arrive today knowing I have got most of the really physical work done and get on with the two offset Passover bends required for the installation. This doesn’t take long the hydraulic bender is easy to use and you don’t have to calculate for stretch with LCS when doing this sort of bend.

I know I have two exams later today so I want to get as much done as possible before hand and really get my head down to the task in hand, and by lunch time I have surprised even myself and am ready to cap off and pressure test the installation.

1pm: I have two exams now HOT WATER SYSTEMS & COLD WATER SYSTEMS Both are online multiple choice exam with about 90mins given for each. You’ll forgive me for not giving too much information here, but I will say if you have revised these subjects there reasonably easy 35 questions for cold 40 for the hot and a 70% correct answers on each to pass. The time given was far more than required to complete and I had done both in little over an hour so after a short break I got back to pressure testing my rig.

Having got it up to 5 bar and with a few tweaks here and there Robert the tutor passed it off with some nice comments as to the neatness. As he is walking around all the time watching and helping as necessary the fact that he had not had to assist me and also that I had finished long before the others, he was very impressed which gave me a real confidence boost.

The remainder of the day was spent decommissioning the rig, also about an hour after the exam we had our results 95% on both so I went home feeling great.


Big day today as we have a BPEC Energy Efficiency Exam in the afternoon so the morning is classroom based with a PowerPoint Presentation given by Robert. We were given the revision material yesterday but U had fallen asleep with it in my lap having not made it passed the first page. Never the less it is my pet subject as I want to get into the renewable part of the industry.

I was able to get fully involved in the presentation and again surprised myself with the amount of information that I had accumulated and absorbed during my studies and research.

We have an extra long lunch just resting in the sunshine and chatting. The exam is a paper multiple choice, open book exam with 30 questions with an 90% pass requirement with one re-sit available if required.

Again I am going to say if you have paid attention during the morning you have all the answers in your head, so it’s relatively easy and there is no reason why you shouldn’t get 100% on this exam.

So I am out in 20mins a happy bunny. Back to decommissioning or rather decorating as that’s all I have left to do, apart from my summary description, so i do notes for that and having talked to Robert he says that it is not necessary for me to come to the centre Friday and can write up my summary at home.

I am including a copy of my summary description for anyone who has not had to do these before it might be worth a read but please no copying you’ll only be cheating yourself.

Well that’s week 3 complete I hope you have enjoyed the read and find this useful please let me know what you think and watch out for next week’s diary of week 4.

To see photos, diagrams and Cliff’s summary description from Week 3 of his practical training, visit his blog at www.plumbing-student.blogspot.com


Train4TradeSkills students share advice on how to get jobs and work placements

Are you training to be a plumber or electrician with Train4TradeSkills and want to get some practical experience outside of your course? T4TS Radio has spoken to a number of students who are working in the industry alongside their training and gaining valuable experience. These students offer their advice and tips of how they managed to get work placements and jobs, so you can follow in their footsteps. We’ve already done two of these guides (which you can read here), and here’s Part 3. Here are the students and the excerpts from their T4TS Radio interviews. All of the interviews are available to listen to at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills and you can read and download the stories via Scribd at www.scribd.com/train4tradeskills

Dalton Gilbert

I’m a qualified electrician and I work for a previous small contractor firm and some big industrial firm like Sky, EDF and Virgin energy. Because the industry has grown tremendously bigger than what we anticipated and the 17th edition has become a new certificate that all employers are looking for and it’s very hard without your 17 qualification. As an electrician, I do metering, wiring, I’ve been doing all aspects of electrical industry. But without a recognised qualification then your career stalls.

Craig Holland

I was actually working as an electricians mate, I just didn’t have my qualifications. I was doing all sorts of work really – domestic, commercial, pre-face stuff. I learned the practical OK from that but coming to the training centre it’s helped with the theory side of it. Can you tell us a bit about how you arranged that experience then?When I first left school when I was 16, I sent out a CV and a letter to almost everybody within a 20-mile radius of where I live in the Yellow Pages. I didn’t really get much back from that, but then luckily a family friend offered me a job working with them as an electrician’s mate. So I ripped his arm off! (laughs)

Danny Wicks

Since I’ve been doing the course I’ve fitted three bathrooms, one for my mother and I’ve had two private jobs that I’ve done as well. Did you find that the work helps you understand the course more? I’d say that doing the course has made me understand the job more, rather than doing the jobs has made me understand the course more. You mentioned you did 2 private jobs. Can you tell us how you arranged that and how you went about it?Well it was from a a friend who was working on a customer’s house and he asked me to take a radiator off the wall from him, so he could do some plastering. This led to me being asked to fit a bathroom in the same property.

Lee O’Donnell

I’ve been helping friends out as a sparky’s mate for many, many years on the side, because I’ve always loved electrics and that kind of stuff. How did you find that helped your course then?Because I kind of knew on the practical side what cable felt like, I knew what it was like to terminate sockets and cable stripping became second nature, as we do a lot of that in IT as well with catfire cables. You pick up a lot of the practical things you need to do just by being an electricians’ mate.

Andy Knott

I’m working with a plumber now and he took me on, so I’m basically doing an apprenticeship with him, so when I’m not studying or here, I’m working with a plumber on-site and getting all the experience really. For those people that are listening and want to get work experience, can you tell us how you arranged that? There was a plumber on-site who said I was a hard worker, and I said I would like to get into plumbing. He said as long as it’s alright with your boss, I’ll take you on. You really just have to get out there, get on-site and once your out there with them, your own your way really. Have you found that the plumbing work has helped you with your course then?Most definitely. If there’s stuff in your bookwork that you don’t really understand, I can just go to him and ask him about it, he’ll explain it to me or show me if we’re on a job, on different types of systems and things like that.

You can listen all the full interviews from Dalton, Craig, Danny, Lee and Andy at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills – where you can download to iTunes and your smartphones.

Michael talks to Train4TradeSkills about his plumbing business

Michael Parish is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. The Essex-based trainee spoke to T4TS Radio’s Tom Jinks about his training and how he is finding the course, as well as all the practical experience he is getting outside of his course.

You can listen to Michael’s story at www.train4tradeskills-radio.co.uk or via AudioBoo at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills

Here is the interview, which you can read and download via the Train4TradeSkills Scribd page:

Cliff’s Practical Training Diary

Are you training with Train4TradeSkills and want to know what the practical training is like? Cliff Raw is one of the Train4TradeSkills Student Bloggers and is training to become a plumber.

Cliff wrote a diary about his practical training and exactly how he found it. Here’s a snippet from his diary, which you can read on Train4TradeSkills News:

Day 1

5am Tuesday 3rd May. The alarm screams and it is time to be up and about today, as it’s day 1 of a 4 day training week I’m due to be at ATL training centre Featherstone by 8am and I have to get there by public transport which means a 5.45am bus into Bradford and then another bus to Wakefield that takes 1hour 15mins then yet another bus to Featherstone and 10mins walk to Green Lane, industrial park were the centre is situated.

The training centre is a smart new industrial unit and already a hive of activity. The canteen is full of students, some like myself for the first time, others are there for later training weeks also there is a mix of plumbing and electrical students. It soon becomes apparent who is in my group and after introductions we are approached by our tutor for the week – Neil Linely.

Neil takes us to one of the centre classrooms to give us the induction and explain how the week will pan out as we only have 4 days to do 5 days work because of the May day bank holiday. There is also paperwork to be done before we can get started. With that completed we were out to the practical training area where we are issued with our tool kit and asked to list the contents and check the condition of each item before signing for them.

In the afternoon we were give the task of soldering and fittings practice, much more enjoyable not making anything in particular just getting used to soldering and using fittings, with Neil taking 3 students at a time to go and do safe ladder techniques for this we also need to take photos for our portfolio’s, again the afternoon is gone in a flash.

That’s Day 1 of Cliff’s Practical training diary. Read the other 4 days from Cliff’s blog on Train4TradeSkills News.

You can also see photos from Cliff’s practical training and speak to Cliff about his T4TS course on his blog at www.plumbing-student.blogspot.com

Craig talks about his plumbing experience he’s getting outside his T4TS course

Craig Watkinson is on the plumbing course with Train4TradeSkills and has a job as a labourer working for a plumber.

The winner of April’s Student of the Month competition, Craig talks about his job and the sort of practical experience he has been getting outside of his course. Craig says:

“I started my plumbing course at the end of Feb and I am really getting stuck into it as I now work for a plumber as a labourer. I also do some jobs on my own under supervision and the other day we went to a property where two radiators were not working, one was cold and the other was lukewarm…”

Read the rest of Craig’s story and how he fixed the radiator problem, as well as how he got the plumbing work, on Train4TradeSkills News. The story can be found on the Train4TradeSkills Blog