David Barlow, Chair of the Electrical Standards and Governance Group which oversees the Electrical Apprenticeships in England and provides routes for young people to further their electrical careers through the IET, celebrated his 70th birthday in August and 54 years in the electrical industry.
His passion for the sector, and training the next generation of electricians, is still as strong as when he embarked on his own electrical apprenticeship in 1966.
Born in Chester, David was educated at Chester Grammar School and the University of Liverpool and holds an MBA, MSc and MA. In 1966, he began his electrical apprenticeship at West Cheshire College on the Craft B course. Having achieved his electrician certificate, he moved to the technician courses T3, T4, T5 and completed his Full Technological Certificate in 1973 with distinction. During 1972 and 1973 he taught IEE regulations and electrical principles at evening class. He later taught the same subjects at South Kent College of Technology. David returned to the family business in 1980 which he and his brother John have built from five staff to 500 staff in 2020.
After working on measures to improve training in the North-West, in 2010 David was invited to join Summit Skills, the Government standards setting organisation for the Building Services Industry that works to develop and maintain standards, qualifications and apprenticeships for the whole of the UK.
David continues to promote the advantages of apprentice and graduate opportunities in the North-West and continues to judge the Cheshire and Warrington Apprentice of the Year for the High Sheriff Awards. He also presents the award for Apprentice Company of the Year at the Cheshire Business Awards.
David says, “If you’re taking on 16-year-olds, they’re going to need more support. You must really care about the young people you bring in, and be interested in them. Get to know them personally, build a bond and retain that bond all the way through.”
David has won over 20 major accolades, including National Awards, and he has been received at Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, championing skills opportunities for young people. He is a three times winner of the National Apprenticeship Awards and has received the High Sheriff of Cheshire Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Economy of Cheshire and the Business Community, presented to him by the Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire in 2017.
He also won the Cheshire Business Person of the Year in 2015 to compliment his Cheshire Business Leaders Award in 2013. In 2015, he was also awarded an Honorary Degree at the University of Chester for his commitment to training and skills across Cheshire and Warrington. David has been awarded an MBE for his contribution to Apprenticeships and his efforts to encourage other businesses to give young people a chance.
David is the founder of Clifford College which has nearly 150 apprentices to be trained in electrical engineering and health and safety across several employers. The college is one of the largest in the country for these subjects, which are carried out in six skill centres. He is a supporter of the British Empire Chapel Fund, a friend of Chester Cathedral, a member of Chester Archaeological Society, Whitchurch 41 Club and Cheshire Business Leaders. He is a lifetime member of Kent County Cricket Club, a Shareholder in Everton Football Club and a Trustee of Malpas Jubilee Hall.
He is currently assisting Barlows (UK) at their new branch in High Wycombe. Professor Phil Harris, University of Chester, notes, “David has made an outstanding contribution to building and developing skilled technical apprentices for the electrical services industry, which has enabled substantial numbers of young people to build successful careers in the evermore complex and socially essential area.”