INTERVIEW: SparkyNinja

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David Watts is the mastermind behind YouTube channel SparkyNinja. Since beginning regularly posting videos around a year ago, David, who is based in Teesside, offers unbiased help with electrical training, UK regulation and design, among many other topics.

His videos offer tips to apprentices and those undertaking exams, as well as those already in the industry.

His channel has a community of more than 3,500 subscribers and 150,000 views.

SPARKS Magazine: Why did you start your YouTube channel?

David Watts: The YouTube channel was actually created in an attempt to offer help to people who couldn’t access training full-time. I put content on there covering an overview of the course. There are a lot of training companies that don’t inform people enough when training. I wanted to put some information out there for anyone to have a better understanding and better preparation for training. The main objectives was that anyone could choose to develop themselves and encourage themselves to go that bit further. A lot of guys see apprentice training as a finishing line, a point of completion. I wanted to say, “Why not have a go, let’s blow up the qualification, show what the intention is, how it should be delivered, what you should prepare for.” I’ve had hundreds of people say, “I’m going to go for this now I’ve seen this content.” So many people were messaging saying, “I was scared and worried I couldn’t do it, but you’ve convinced me I can take it on.” That’s the objective: give people a bit of motivation and support development.

SPARKS: When did you start making videos?
DW: I started just over a year ago regularly. I’ve seen how effective some content was on YouTube and how people use and share it. It came naturally, I’ve had a few people, for example Dans the Engineer, who said you should post certain types of content. I wanted it to grow naturally. I had lots of comments regarding the industry but lots of people want testing, training and technical. I’m aware there are tricks of the trade to grow content, but I haven’t got the time to religiously produce and I wanted it to grow gradually.

SPARKS: What sort of reaction do you get to the videos?
DW: A lot of people re-watch and re-view training content. There’s a small market for the technical qualifications. I could easily turn the channel into testing every day and grow the audience, but it’s not the intention of the channel. Some of it works quite well, some not so much as it’s a small area of guys. New people can find that content. It’s 95 per cent positive, you get the odd person who will dissect it three months later or someone who has misinterpreted it. I find that the best thing is to take it on the chin. When I first started the channel, I got messages from a few other YouTubers e.g. Thomas Nagy. He said, “You will get trolls and comments but keep your head down and push on.” It’s quite a close community with regard to people who view, they find it better than reading or going to college. It’s hard for electricians to find which training is required for them. You get the odd person being reckless or silly but many people do make accurate content. The guys at Tresham College do a great job. With such a focal subject as electrics, your comments are from the same people, same community.

SPARKS: How did you get into the electrical industry?
DW: I did it straight from school. My father and grandfather were electricians, it’s in the family. And my surname is Watts! It’s written in stone. We had a family company at Ascot Racecourse doing a contract, so it was a great place to do an apprenticeship. The racecourse was knocked down and rebuilt so I decided I wanted to try other things. I worked for a local authority as a qualified supervisor. In about 2008, my dad started to do training part-time at a local college and said one day, “The guy in the workshop isn’t coming in, do you fancy coming in tonight?” I said, “Sod off it’s Champions League night!” He told me it was paid per hour so I went in. The actual lads I trained that night complained about the other trainer after – he would come in, get the gear out and sit there on the computer all the time. I then went onto Level 3 technical, I had to remember all the stuff I learned at college. It was intimidating! I stuck to it, I had to re-learn and master the ability to translate as much as I could into English and I found it rewarding after a certain period of time. I finished training full-time a few years ago. I was being asked if could do inspections and consultancy work. My work right now is 40 per cent consultancy, 40 per cent training and the rest inspection and thermal imaging.

SPARKS: What do you think young electricians should know about the trade that isn’t necessarily taught in class?
DW: One of the things they should understand is how social the industry can be. Reach out to SPARKS Magazine, go beyond their classroom. Go to social networks, go to communities, go onto YouTube, go to exhibitions. When you’re in the college, all you get is your tutors’ opinion. For some full time colleges, that can be a little bit tunnel vision, a little institutionalised. The best thing they can do is take what they learned at college, go onto social media and ask what people think, get another opinion, another angle. It expands it, they should look beyond the training room, reach out and seek further development elsewhere.

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