IHBC’s CPD signpost: ECA asks if social media is the new way to plug the gender skills gap?

On International Women in Engineering day, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) asked if social media break down the gender divide for female apprentices?

… [Eddie Clemmens] gained a large following of apprentices interested in his images…

… concerned the sector …. will lose a generation of new talent…

The ECA writes (23 June 2021):

In the case of Tianna, an apprentice from Birmingham, her social media network has been a lifeline during lockdown.

“Without a doubt ours is the fastest changing industry there is”, says Eddie Clemmens of Pegasus Electrical, who has been a practising electrician for 35 years. Pegasus is based just off Junction 2 of the M5 in the West Midlands.

During the pandemic, Eddie was active on Twitter and later Instagram, posting photos of his electrical systems. He gained a large following of apprentices interested in his images. Many were on furlough, and while able to continue their studies, their opportunities for hands on experience were limited. The photos of circuits were a great way to learn things they were not seeing in real time.

Like many in the industry, he is concerned the sector, which already has a skills shortage, will lose a generation of new talent unable to pass practical exams because they’ve not been in a work environment. He believes the trade must find new ways to plug the skills gap, “it will be a long haul to regain the quality of practical skills lost this year, unless we support each other now”.

One of his Instagram followers is a woman called Tianna, known as Tee. She is in the fourth year of her apprenticeship. Tee saw Eddie’s photo of conduit bender instructions and messaged him directly. She was desperate to get the hands-on experience of conduit bending to complete her practical exam, AM2.

Eddie had a brainwave, he decided to speak with one of his wholesalers, Edmundson Electrical in Wolverhampton, who were happy to help. They supplied Eddie with a conduit bender, complete with conduit and boxes at cost price. This was delivered to Tee, free of charge, and #AM2LoanRangers was born.

Tee was pleased to be a guinea pig for the new idea. She tested the kit for a couple of weeks, but it was soon in demand by other apprentices. It was clear the board must be portable and include a range of bending skills needed for both the AM2 and the real world.

Demand for the practice board has been largely driven by social media. There is a waiting list for the upgraded practice board and kit, which goes on loan for 2 or 3 weeks. But Tee will get the equipment back before her AM2, to ensure she gains the skills to pass the test.

Tee said it has been great working with Eddie, if it hadn’t been for him, she wouldn’t have got through the last year.

“He’s made me, practice, practice, practice.  As a woman in a mostly male industry, I need to be on top of my game and have experience of all types of wiring I might be faced with. When I started out, someone told me I’ve never make it, but I’m determined to prove them wrong”.

Eddie has made Tee see there is a vast array of electrical opportunities ahead of her.   When Tee finishes her apprenticeship, she plans to work in the growing field of installing electric vehicle charging points.

As a lifelong learner himself, Eddie knows the importance of keeping up to date with his trade. He is a member of ECA, the electrical contractors’ association, who he says has… opened his eyes to the rapid shift that is taking place, as technology changes the way electricians work. He also observed that the ECA technical team are second to none.


“You can ring them up and ask them anything, no question is too small.  Unlimited access to the technical helpline, is worth the subs alone”.

Tee added when she owns her own firm, she is going to join ECA.

” It’s been brilliant for me and one day I’d like to help someone, the way Eddie has helped me.”

If you’d like to find out more about borrowing the kit or starting a similar scheme, you can find Eddie on Twitter @Pegasuselectric.

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