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Beware 'pirate' electrical training providers offering worthless qualifications.

The evidence keeps stacking up that an increasing number of electricians - and others - are being defrauded by falling victim to shoddy second or even third rate training providers who offer worthless qualifications.

As early as February of this year, this disturbing trend, uncovered by Citizens Advice, reveals a rise of nearly a third in the numbers of general complaints last year to well over 2,000, with an alarming spike in "scam" courses, particularly over the last 2 years, where some of the unscrupulous training offered, claims to get you qualified and registered, in as little as 2 weeks.

Furthermore, even if the course exists, it is often mis-sold to someone who cannot benefit or - worse - the provider simply does not exist or goes bust, and paid-for materials and certificates fail to appear.

A recent example of bogus training includes a documented case of someone who "signed up" for a distance learning course combined with a series of so called "workshop" exercises, spaced out over a 3 month period, after which, they were persuaded by a training course provider to sign up to a Part P course. Very quickly it was realised that there was no tutorial support, and when arriving at the "training centre, the "instructor" knew very little about the subject in hand.

Another trainee contacted his local Trading Standards office, who have issued a formal legal warning after complaining that he had signed up for a home study electrician course which he had been verbally told would qualify him to work in the domestic and industrial electrical sectors, but which he soon realised was not recognised.It does appear that these examples only represent the tip of the iceberg , i.e. the ones who seek advice from Citizens Advice, and very often, the unpleasant truth is that even the most experienced of electricians can be taken in by these scams.

Citizens Advice are embarking on a publicity campaign, to highlight this worrying development, in response to people "falling victim to scams involving companies advertising courses that promise marketable qualifications but fail to deliver the goods, leaving prospective students seriously out of pocket".It is always important to check first with your training provider, visit their facilities, speak to staff and note their 'approved' and 'accredition' status, which should be visibly indicated on their website.

The site should also contain authoritative statements clearly advising on the scope of each individual course, what you will be taught, realistic time assessment for learning, the qualifications you will gain and what they will allow you to do.

When in doubt, just ask - you will quickly discover whether the training centre can really provide the genuine training and approved qualifications that you are seeking.