We spoke with Andrew Lightowler, owner at Ex-Assist and peripatetic assessor with over 25 years’ experience in the industry, to find out more about his background and the skills and knowledge he has acquired as a self-employed business owner.
What is your experience in the industry so far?
I now have over 25 years in the industry with experience working in a multitude of roles such as a multi-skilled maintenance technician in plastics manufacturing, an engineering manager for chemical production/manufacturing as well as working as an offshore maintenance support and competency assessor, and a hazardous area inspector. I have been involved with CompEx for almost 10 years and I gained my trainer/assessor licence in 2015.
I am currently operating as a peripatetic trainer/assessor, and although predominantly serve the centres within my area, I also travel to support other centres in the UK and overseas. I am currently licensed for Ex01-04, Ex05, Ex06, Ex11 (assess only), whilst also certified in Ex12 and Ex14. My company also offers installations and inspections, and I like to see this as a way of supporting my teaching by keeping my hand in whilst I’m still young!
What are your most common types of business?
Most of my work as a peripatetic trainer/assessor is supporting CompEx centres with the training and assessment of the CompEx modules, as centres sometimes require additional resources and staff to cover the courses. I am also able to assist in the development of the courses both practically, with carrying out remedial work and upgrades to the assessment bays, or by changing/improving presentations.
What are your most popular courses? Why do you think that these are popular?
EX01-04 is currently the most popular course I deliver, however there seems to be a growing awareness of the CompEx Foundation Plus module (EXF+) and an increase in requirements for Dust modules (Ex05 – Ex06). I put this down to the increasing number of biomass plants in the UK with 78 currently operating in the country where the major type of fuel being used is wood pellets.
Are there any particular challenges in your region?
One of the biggest challenges I experience is the varying preparedness of candidates attending a competency assessment course, as the level of basic electrical skills and knowledge can be varied across candidates. I’ve observed that in some cases either employers don’t fully understand what they are sending their employees to do, or the candidates themselves don’t prepare adequately enough. For me, it’s about attitude to learning, knowing what is expected of you and putting in the effort prior to attending and during the course. Using electrical test equipment and glanding armoured cable are two of the main areas where the skill level is not always what I would expect for a technician attending a CompEx course.
What do you think sets CompEx apart from other accreditation bodies?
The CompEx suite of qualifications link very well between the regulations, the standards and guidance, and also industry best practice through its association with EEMUA. This helps candidates to understand their role in ensuring the safety of themselves and others when working in hazardous areas.
What would you like to succeed in doing in the next year?
In the next year, my main goals will be to focus on growing my business, alongside gaining my licence to deliver the Ex14 module. I would also like to further develop my knowledge and experience of DSEAR assessments and installation design, as well as continuing to support centres globally and share best practice in teaching and assessing between centres.