Are Our Qualifications Worth the Paper They are Written on?

Dave Bromley gives us his opinion on the format of the qualifications for the assessing of Electrical Contractors in their ability to check and test electrical installations. He thinks City and Guilds are missing a trick in pushing the trade forward. He explains why;


When I took my 2391-10 Inspection and Testing exam, the qualification was so difficult that approx. 65-75% of the people taking the exam failed (taken from chief examiners report at the time). This flagship qualification was then replaced, the thinking being that it would be a better idea to have 2 separate qualifications, one dealing with the Initial Verification of Electrical Installations (2394), whilst the other focused on Periodic Inspections (2395) as they were named at the time (currently changed to Electrical Installation Condition Report’s) the format of the assessments changed from a purely written exam of 20 shorter questions and 6 longer “scenario questions”, to being split into a multiple choice exam to cover the 20 shorter questions and keeping the longer written questions.


A lot of people, myself included, felt at the time that this diluted the qualification and that it meant that less skilled people could now carry out these important electrical checks. This causes particular concern when considering the EICR’s that are carried out, where an extremely good understanding of the testing procedure, as well as possible quirks of an installation, are needed in order to identify potential issues that a less advanced understanding may miss.


Fast forward to the current qualification and the 2394/5 are now old hat, and we are going back to…you guessed it the 2391, available in 3 new flavours, 2391-50 Initial Verification, 2391-51 Periodic Inspections, and 2391-52 which is an amalgamation of the first two.


The reason for going back appears to be that the engineering world is unable to get used to anything other than the 2391 as an inspection and testing qualification. The issue though is that the qualification has been diluted yet again! The new assessments include a multiple choice exam that varies in length dependant on the course you take (2391-52 being 60 questions) which is now OPEN BOOK, a short assignment completed whilst on the course and the standard practical assessments that we know and love.


Apparently the reason for the new assessment method is that they can mark these faster and at a greater cost efficiency, however for those of us capable of reading between the lines, it seems a little strange that the new assessment model is almost identical to the current model offered by EAL as an equivalent to the City and Guilds qualifications.


One thing is for sure, the queue for this new assessment method, is likely to be as long as your proverbial arm, filled with all of the people unable to meet the meagre requirements of the 2394/5 and those that would likely have fallen drastically short of the original 2391-10.


Rather than diluting their qualifications, City and Guilds have the opportunity to use their name and recognition to raise the bar in the electrical arena. Unfortunately this time round they have chosen not to exercise that opportunity.


Shouldn’t City and Guilds be making sure that their qualifications and the courses that they offer, continue to set them aside as the training body looked up to by others? Do you think they still do lead the way in offering the best training for the trade? Let us know your thoughts.

3 thoughts on “Are Our Qualifications Worth the Paper They are Written on?

  • Gareth Dixon
    22nd May 2018 at 3:12 pm

    I agree with Dave Bromley assessment. I’m far from an experienced electrician but I managed to pass the 2394/5, thanks in part to some of the excellent training that Dave provided during my course.
    I found the practical assessments the most difficult, primarily due to my lack of experience, but I got through it. The written tests I didn’t find particularly difficult, I was taught well and revised heavily. If the exams are now easier than they were, then that can only be bad for the future of the industry. Those who are responsible for issuing safety certificates should be of a minimum calibre imo, not everyone should be able to make the grade. If you’re putting your name to something that could be potentially dangerous, you need to have your wits about you.

  • Simon Barker
    25th October 2018 at 6:07 am

    As the saying goes (I think Jim Rohn said it), “Education gets you a Job … Personal Development gets you a life”

  • jaswinder Singh
    19th March 2019 at 6:48 am

    i think practical training matters the most rather than the theoratical study only there is a need of improvement in practical studies.

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