Author Topic: Getting a qualification through work  (Read 10269 times)

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Offline Simon

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Getting a qualification through work
« on: April 15, 2014, 09:59:29 am »
Well having figured that I can do a lot of electronics for work and having put me onto a few little projects they have figured that they might want me to have some sort of qualifications. So bearing in mind my employer is a mechanical company they have no idea of what to send me on and as i never even did any schooling in the UK I have no idea of how the system works. I mentioned NVQ which others have recommended but my boss said he thinks you have to be in an apprenticeship in order to do one which I'm not and they can't make me an apprentice as I'm clearly the most qualifies person in my field despite having no actual qualifications (Italian diplomas made out on toilet paper don't count in the UK).

I'm doing at the moment basic electronic designs some involving military stuff and I tend to need micro-controllers. I don't know how important programming skills are viewed but my guess is circuit design is going to be paramount here (and something I've seen some professional suby's fail at).

Any ideas ?
 

Offline KSP

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2014, 10:09:13 am »
No you do not necessarily have to be on an apprenticeship to be able to do an NVQ, as most of the time they are externally moderated anyway.

Having said that... I got all my qualifications through an apprenticeship, and I am the same, I am the most qualified in my department. Apprenticeships are not like the old days where you learn from the old blokes at work, they are government backed schemes where you get sent to college etc.

Mine consisted of:
Engineering ONC (Ordinary National Certificate)
Performing Engineering Operations (NVQ Level 2)
NVQ Level 3 in electronic maintenance
HNC (Higher National Certificate) In electrical and electronic engineering

Getting your company to sign up to this way of study will mean you will need to be given day release in order to attend college, but in engineering there is so much diversity and support available, in my area anyone who gets in to engineering does so via an apprenticeship, degrees dont seem to mean much with the companies round here

Hope this helps
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2014, 10:19:59 am »
that's a help. Problem is my employer is completely mechanical, They have updated their skills matrix but it used to have advanced electronics on it and that had one bloke down on it who made control boxes with relays and had trouble with ohms law. He has retired and now it just has things like continuity.

The day of release should not be a problem I've not got much to work on and if they want me to concentrate on electronics then none of that can happen much until I'm qualified.

Not sure what you mean by an NVQ being externally moderated.
 

Offline Andy Watson

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2014, 10:50:20 am »
I started as an "electronics apprentice" at a mechanical engineering firm. I went the ONC/HNC route on day-release. The electronics ONC was very much theory orientated and did not require any input from the company - so basically, if you can find the funding and time, you can do an ONC in anything you like.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2014, 11:29:35 am »
Is city and guilds relevant these days ? I found: http://www.cityandguilds.com/about-us but I suspect they are just a company reusing a name to gain trust.
 

Offline Codemonkey

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2014, 12:00:15 pm »
I did BTEC ONC and BTEC HNC in Electrical & Electronic Engineering many years ago. Both courses consisted of one full day and evening away from work, plus an extra evening each week and were 2 years each. I can certainly recommend those, they've kept me in continuous employment now for over 20 years!

The City & Guilds stuff seemed more aimed at people who were going to spend their lives fixing things (C&G TV Repair course was run by the college I went to), whereas the ONC/HNC was a good foundation for people who were going to be designing or specifying things.
 

Offline Tris20

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2014, 01:54:58 pm »
Not sure about what city and guilds are. You might be too late to apply for courses now though as they usually start taking applications around December.

 As to which course? You're going to be well above NVQ level. It's extremely basic. Apply to as many local colleges as you can for day release HNC/HND electronic & electrical. You may need to be pretty active about this and phone the colleges etc and may need try phoning again just after the start of the academic year as people start dropping out. The lecturers there will interview and probably give you a few (very basic) tests for the HNC. Then they will either hint that you will be given a place or suggest that you go straight into the HND. If you've been out of education for a while it may be worth doing the HNC first anyway just to get back into the swing of it. There were extenuating circumstances when I went back to education but non the less it still took me about a year/ year and a half to really get back into the swing of things.
 

Offline KSP

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2014, 04:22:12 pm »
Not sure what you mean by an NVQ being externally moderated.

When I did my NVQ Level 3 with my previous employer they just had to supply me with work that would meet the criteria, the criteria was set and moderated by West Anglia Training Association, though some people do their NVQs through college. It is a formal qualification, therefore has to be done via some kind of examining body. West Anglia Training would periodically send a training advisor to my place of work to see how I was getting on and make sure I was meeting the criteria set under the NVQ guidelines. Of course, the work is still done in the workplace, there are no classes to attend, but your work needs to be graded by an authorised training body.

Thats all I meant by externally moderated :)

But as Tris20 pointed out, it is very basic and probably beneath you. I found it was only good as an accompaniment to my other studies, if the NVQ was all I was doing (no ONC/HNC) then I can honestly say I wouldnt have learnt very much from it.
In short, an NVQ proves you can already do the job and know how to write about it, if you actually want to learn stuff then ONC/HNC teaches you theory etc.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2014, 04:25:31 pm »
hm well I think the aim is to cover what I can already do although learning a bit more would not hurt. I think it's mainly so that the company are covered but I'd like to take the opportunity to learn a bit more.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2014, 04:41:14 pm »
This link may be a good starting point to find further information:

http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/higher-national-certificates-and-higher-national-diplomas

If your employer wants to provide help with training and further education you should certainly take advantage of that.

« Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 04:43:01 pm by IanB »
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2014, 06:28:12 pm »
yea I intend to, although I don't want to make a rod for my own back either, HNC or HND sound about the level I need.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2014, 09:27:50 pm »
This link may be a good starting point to find further information:

http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/higher-national-certificates-and-higher-national-diplomas

If your employer wants to provide help with training and further education you should certainly take advantage of that.

Yes that is helpful. The other snag is that I have no UK qualifications at all so entry requirements might be a problem.
 

Offline Tris20

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2014, 11:41:20 pm »
Seriously, I wouldn't worry too much about entry requirements. So long as you provide a decent amount of information about your work and the things you can already do they'll consider you. If you get a rejection letter simply send them and email asking them how you can strengthen your application for next time. When I did that it turns out they've overlooked my application because of the initial entry requirements but then looked at what else I'd done and offered me a place.
 

Offline djsb

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2014, 08:33:38 am »
I left school with a CSE grade 2 in General science thats all.
I stated out by doing a City and Guilds in Electronic Servicing at a Adult education college whilst working as a Janitor in Manchester when I was 30ish years old.
I also studied Maths to A level on a POLYMATH (google it only 2 places in the UK do it anymore)course at Manchester Metropolitan University in the evenings. Did some additional maths on an open maths GCE course as well whilst out of work.

Eventually gave up my Job as a Janitor and Enrolled on a BEng Electronic Engineering course at the University of Bolton. The course was a HITECC course and had a 1 year foundation year. Left with a HND in Electronic Engineering (could have stayed an extra year for the BEng Honours) as I wanted to get back into work asap.

Where I work now (Brunel University) I've been told I can study for a degree at any time. Not sure if I want to or need to at the moment though as I favour picking up skills on my own at my own pace. Still, I have the option.
If I can do it anyone can.

David.
David
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Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2014, 08:48:19 am »
Well seems that i need to find something that can be done via distance learning as they don't want to loose me for a day a week (it all sounded too good to be true  :-DD) so while there is a local college that does it it's not going to be an option.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2014, 08:54:50 am »
www.edx.org but not sure if they will meet qualification in the UK or anywhere for that matter, I just take courses there for fun and to keep up.
BTW done by very reputable universities and colleges. (MIT, Rice, Harvard, Cornell, Berkeley, Caltech, Columbia. But not much EE in there but some.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2014, 09:02:10 am »
well might be a great source of material I can use but this for my employer is an arse covering exercise, I need to be accredited so that when I design something for their customer they can feel they are covered. I have skills at the moment and have designed stuff, but they are itchy about a hobbyist designing stuff for military. Most of our stuff is non critical but we are getting closer these days to life/death stuff that just cannot fail. I don't know if this is a move to try and get me to do the work they have so far paid a subcontractor for as I've just been fixing the subcontractors stuff  :-DD and making small boards to solve afterthoughts or to do simple stuff that did not warrant the cost and time of subbing it out.
 

Offline bookaboo

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2014, 09:26:10 am »
Have you looked into a HNC (or whatever they are calling that these days). I was in a very similar situation to you when I did mine, it was basically the first 16 modules of a degree so you can progress on if you wish.
Strictly speaking you are supposed to do a foundation course, usually that's done at age 17/18. However if you call up the lecturer they may be accommodating when you explain you have industry experience. Also call a few different places to see what modules they run, one of the places I went was maths crazy and they swapped a PLC module out for a mechanical engineering math one  :-//
 

Offline djsb

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2014, 09:39:56 am »
What about this?

http://www.northampton.ac.uk/study/courses/courses-by-subject/engineering/engineering-beng-hons

Or another similar course at the same university.


David.
David
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Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2014, 09:51:01 am »
What about this?

http://www.northampton.ac.uk/study/courses/courses-by-subject/engineering/engineering-beng-hons

Or another similar course at the same university.


David.

thanks David, again it's not distance learning, the highest I can find with distance learning is a level 3 betec and it's pathetic: http://www.icslearn.co.uk/distance-learning-courses/btec-level-3-certificate-in-electronic-engineering.aspx
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2014, 12:44:44 pm »
Well I give up, it seems that in this shit hole of a country that is supposedly concentrating on engineering to "get the economy going" there are very few electronics qualifications going and virtually none as dis6ance learning. Apparently welding and mechanical engineering are going to get us out of the shit!
 

Offline djsb

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2014, 02:28:11 pm »
You could try getting your company to pay for a Microchip course or two. I get an email now and then from Microchip with details of a course on how to use MPLABX etc.
The only distance course I know of is the open university. Problem is their courses are VERY expensive. Also if you wan to do a degree with them you have to go through several MANDATORY start up courses so you can decide on what is going to make up your degree.
Also Oxford or cambridge uinversity do some CPD (continuous proffessional development) on specialist topics like RF design etc.
There is also the London Electronics College in central London.

http://www.lec.org.uk/

Hope I've given you some ideas.

David.
David
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Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2014, 04:05:53 pm »
Thank you David, they don't seem to do distance courses and I can't possibly travel to London. All in all I'm pissed off, it is clear that "Britain is not open for business" when it comes to electronics. The OU only does full blown degrees and I have absolutely no qualifications so all I can do is a HNC and still need the nod to get into that with no previous qualifications. All that seems to be available is one BETEC L3 qualification that basically seems to go no further than a bit of analogue stuff (probably op-amps) and a "glimps" at modern digital stuff without touching on MCU's so well below my level in many respects and pretty pointless for my employer unless it can be used as a springboard for a HNC. Bottom line is my employer want to save money by getting me a qualification so that they can use my skills instead of paying for a subcontractor but they won't spend much in my opinion and certainly won't let me out for a day, I have do do it in my own time.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2014, 04:49:37 pm »
You could try getting your company to pay for a Microchip course or two. I get an email now and then from Microchip with details of a course on how to use MPLABX etc.


Tell me, what is the value of a qualification in how to use a peice of secondary software ? learning MPLAB does not neccesarily teach me C and won't teach me circuit design, I'm supposed to be doing one better than the subcontractor ;)

Also i tend to use AVR anyway, I'm not a fan but the datasheets are easier and they are morte feature rich, find me a cheap pic that can produce a 64MHz clock out of 8MHz to run the PWM timer on...... all for £0.60
 

Offline djsb

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Re: Getting a qualification through work
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2014, 09:57:20 am »
I'm only trying to help. Until the online providers are able to offer accredited electronics modules or even degrees (MIT etc) there is not much else available.
I had to give up full time employment to get the qualifications, but it was worth it as I'm earning more. Unfortunately that is not an option if you've got a mortgage,children etc. It's about time the UK government gave more support for part time mature students. I'm going to keep this in mind when I vote next year.

Sorry I could not be more helpful.

David.
David
Hertfordshire,UK
 University Electronics Technician, London PIC,CCS C,Arduino,Kicad, Altium Designer,LPKF S103,S62 Operator, Electronics instructor.  http://debuggingrules.com/ Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
 


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