Certified Electrician instructor, Lakeram Ramkaran at the Herzing College Toronto campus
Lakeram Ramkaran has been teaching Herzing's Pre-apprenticeship Electrician training since the beginning of 2020. But his experience as an electrician goes way back, all the way to Guyana, where he learned how to build circuits as a young boy.
Like so many Torontonians, Lakeram immigrated to Canada looking for new opportunities. He retrained to meet Canadian electrician certification requirements, passed the exam, and became a master electrician.
He also earned certification as an Ontario teacher in 2011, setting him on the path to a career in skilled trades education.
Ten years later, Lakeram is helping train the next generation of electrician apprentices. A veteran of the trade with 15 years of practical experience, Lakeram is the ideal person to answer our questions about becoming an electrician.
This week, we interviewed him about how the program works, the purpose of pre-apprenticeship training, and what to expect in class.
Meet Lakeram, an expert instructor and your guide to pre-apprenticeship electrician training at Herzing.
Q: Lakeram, can you tell us about your background as an electrician?
Lakeram: I've been an electrician for 15 years. I started my training in Guyana, and when I moved to Canada in 2010, I updated my skills to pass the certification exam.
Ever since I was a child, I've been interested in electricity. I used to love playing with circuits and learning how electricity works. In high school, I began studying to become an electrician.
It was a natural progression for me to teach the pre-apprenticeship electrician program at Herzing College.
Q: How long have you been teaching at Herzing?
Lakeram: I just joined the faculty at Herzing College about seven months ago. Before that, I taught the Canadian Electrical Code course at Humber College.
Q: What exactly is “pre-apprenticeship” training? Can't you just become an electrician apprentice without taking any training?
Lakeram: It is much easier to get hired as an apprentice if you do the pre-apprenticeship electrician program.
Many employers want people with actual knowledge of the job site, including the basics of electrical installation, and safety knowledge (working at heights, fall protection, using scissor lifts, etc.)
In pre-apprenticeship electrician training, you get theory and hands-on skills. You graduate with everything you need to know to be useful on the job site. This is what employers want.
My last round of graduates finished the electrician program two weeks ago, and they’ve already been hired. So they are already accumulating hours toward their apprenticeship and certification.
Q: What are the most valuable electrician skills students learn in your class?
Lakeram: Working in the Herzing shop, they learn the correct way to install electrical fixtures and components, the first time around. If the boss has to come and correct your work, it looks very bad for you as an apprentice, because lost time means lost money.
Employers want efficient apprentices who know the fundamentals. Doing things right the first time is key. This is a skill we teach during the hands-on portion of the training.
Also, knowledge of the electrical code is very important for getting hired. Electrician apprentices must know the rules and regulations for both residential and commercial electrical work.
Employers really value this skillset. Our students get a good foundation in the electrical code.
Q: Can you give some examples of electrical projects students do in your class?
Lakeram: We install doorbells, smoke alarms, washer and dryer receptacles, kitchen circuitry including the stove range, counter receptacles, split receptacles...everything that is required in a home. Hands-on practice is a key part of our pre-apprenticeship electrician training.
Q: Where do electrical students tend to struggle?
Lakeram: Many students are totally new to the trades. So in the beginning, they struggle a bit with things like stripping wires, making connections, grounding, using tools correctly, etc.
But we iron everything out during the first few weeks. I help them get comfortable and their confidence builds from there.
Q: Do you need really strong math skills to succeed in pre-apprenticeship electrician training?
Lakeram: Students need to learn some equations, like Ohm's Law, so they can calculate voltage, resistance, current, box fill, etc. But these are fairly basic equations, and we spend a good amount of time practising them.
Even if you didn’t do really well in high school math, you can work hard and develop the skills you need to succeed in this program.
Q: What are the most common electrician career paths? Where do most grads get hired?
Lakeram: Typical employers are service companies, construction companies, and high-rise maintenance.
Our graduates often get hired by these types of companies. They start out doing rough-in work, like installing receptacle boxes, running the wires, drilling studs, etc.
They will also be doing cleanup, running errands, and keeping themselves busy. I train our students to be responsible and proactive, so they're not just waiting to be told what to do.
As an apprentice, you need to keep your eyes open and find ways to contribute.
Q: How does someone know they’d make a good electrician?
Lakeram: The first thing is to like the trade. Second, you have to have a hardworking attitude. You should be keen, with a sharp mind, and be willing to continue studying and learning to keep up with evolving technology.
I always tell my students, you have to like whatever trade you choose. Each trade has its own benefits. What’s really important is enjoying the work. If you enjoy it you will have an easier time learning and progressing in your career.
Pre-apprenticeship electrician training gives you a very good idea of what to expect from this trade. It's the best way to learn the basics and take your first step toward certification.
Learn more about Pre-apprenticeship Electrician training
Herzing College offers a 24-week pre-apprenticeship electrician program at our Toronto, Ottawa, and Cambridge campuses.
Students learn how to read blueprints and install electrical wiring, fixtures, and controls. Training includes six safety certifications, including WHMIS, working at heights, lockout/tagout, and elevating work platforms.
Tools are included in the cost of tuition, and there are financial aid and government training grants available for eligible students. Our advisors can explain all financing options and help students apply for funding.
Chat live with an admissions advisor to learn more. Or click below to explore the pre-apprenticeship electrician program in more detail. We're here to help!