Taking a position of power

Taking a position of power

Starting out as an electrical apprentice is a good way to keep upgrading your skills

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Electrical installation student, Yiu Chi-ki, at the Construction Industry Council's training centre in Sheung Shui.
Electrical installation student, Yiu Chi-ki, at the Construction Industry Council's training centre in Sheung Shui.
Photo: Edmond So/SCMP
After graduating from Form Five, Yiu Chi-ki decided to learn a craft to support himself. He enrolled in the electrical installation course offered by the Construction Industry Council (CIC).

Get started:

The CIC offers a one-year course in electrical installation. Students learn all about concealed cables, conduits, temporary power systems and so on. At the same time, they attend a weekly course at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) to learn more about the theory and technical aspects of being an electrician. After graduating from the CIC programme, students hold the intermediate trade test qualification and are ready to enter the industry as apprentices.

Moving up:

After working for five years, apprentices can apply for a Grade A qualification by passing a trade test approved by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.

Workers with a Grade A certificate are allowed to work on low-voltage, fixed electrical installations not exceeding 400A.

With a further five years of experience, and after obtaining a certificate in electrical engineering issued by the IVE, they can move up to gain the Grade B qualification. This means they can work on fixed electrical installations not exceeding 2500A.

After working for at least six years with a Grade B certificate, they can apply for Grade C, which is equal to a university degree in electrical engineering. The Grade C qualification is equivalent to being an electrical engineer.

Where to apply:

Electricians are needed everywhere, from construction sites to office towers, shopping malls, hotels and residential buildings. They can work for property management companies or for contractors.

Rewards and benefits:

A worker with a Grade A certificate earns about HK$900 to HK$1,000 per day, while a worker with a Grade B certificate will earn no less than HK$1,300 per day.

A day in the life:

On a construction site, electricians work from 9am to 6pm. They are assigned to work on many different tasks.

At the early stages of a building project, electricians set up generators to power lighting systems and machines on the construction site.

After the structure has been built, electricians can start to install the power supply system of the building.

The working environment on the construction site is tough. Workers have to endure hot weather and dusty, muddy conditions. So some electricians choose to work indoors for property management companies, maintaining the power supply systems in premises such as office buildings, hotels and residential estates.

Jargon

Ballast: The electrical current regulator in fluorescent lamps. If you ever hear an annoying buzzing sound coming from a light, then it most likely has a bad ballast.

J-box: The junction box which is a container for electrical connections.

RCD: The residual current device is a safety feature that switches power off automatically when it detects that the electric current is not balanced between the energised conductor and the return neutral conductor, and guards against electric shock or fire.

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