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Social Media just for Plumbers

by Alex 12. May 2014 13:56

While I'm sure many of you plumbers and trainee plumbers reading get your business out there using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, did you know that there's not a dedicated social media network exclusively for the plumbing trade? Say hello to Connect.

Launched by leading shower/taps brand Bristan, Connect is an online platform which aims to provide installers with a dedicated area for them to get in touch with one another to share information or ask questions. Joining is completely free, and users will be able to upload images and videos of their work or products they think are worth recommending to others. In turn, the community will also provide news and information on the latest products, how-to tutorials, industry news and first access to promotional offers and discounts on Bristan's shower and tap products.

Its creation was spurred on by Bristan's largest survey to date, which was conducted earlier this year. They found that many installers felt that there were few opportunities online for them to share information with each other. Signing up has been made as hassle free as possible, as you don't even need to create an all new account - you can just sign up with an existing Facebook or Twitter profile. 

For more information you can visit the site at www.bristanconnect.com

Via HPM Magazine

Meanwhile, you can also keep up with Access Training on Facebook (link here) and Twitter (@accesstraining1). For more information on our range of trades training courses, which include plumbing, electrics, gas engineering, bricklaying, carpentry, tiling, plastering, painting/decorating and more - give our advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Plumbers not being paid on time

by Alex 13. March 2014 15:00

Plumbers are an incredibly important part of our society and most homeowners would be stuck without them. However if seems many are not getting the thanks and appreciation they deserve, with research revealing that UK plumbers are not only getting paid late but are often finding themselves chasing up said payments.

The survey from Worldpay looked at over 1000 tradespeople from across the country, and found plumbers have to chase their earnings up for around 27 weeks - almost twice as long as the average wait time of 15 weeks. More specific data found included that tradespeople are typically paid late once a month, with the annual total late payments owed coming to around £799. Worse still, most of this debt (£770) gets wiped off completely. Meanwhile the average figure for plumbers is significantly larger rising to upwards of £,948 a year. This resulted in over half of respondents admitting to have problems with their cash flow, in additional to worrying about damaging customer relationships and time wasted on chasing payments.

In an attempt to combat this, Worldpay have offered plumbers a few suggestions to help ensure they always get paid on time;

  • Offer customers a wider variety of payment methods. Out of the plumbers spoken to that were paid late in the last 12 months, 73% said that automated (ie card) payments are important for maintaining a regular cash flow.
  • When in doubt, check your customers' credit history. It costs a small fee, but could provide further information.
  • Ensure you have the name and details of the person(s) responsible for paying.
  • Make sure you have properly agreed contract terms. Getting proper legal advice from the get-go may seem like a hassle but could save a lot of time and money in the long run.
  • Consider charging interest on late payments. Making your customers immediately aware of this should hopefully put them off paying late.

With this advice in mind, attaining that dream of becoming a professional plumber should be one step easier. However before you can even think about businesses and payment options, you're going to need the necessery plumbing skills and the qualifications to prove it. Give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about our range of intensive plumbing courses.

Via PHPI Magazine

The WaterSafe Standard

by Alex 20. February 2014 10:47

With the UK becoming more and more aware of dodgy tradespeople thanks to the horror stories reported all over the media (and often on this very blog too!), more has to be done for consumers to be reassured that the people are hiring are honest and fully qualified. The gas industry has the Gas Safe Register, and electricians have any number of competent person schemes - what is there for plumbers?

In previous blog posts last year we introduced WaterSafe - the first plumbing body of its kind. Set up back in October 2013, this national assurance scheme is designed to recognise competent plumbers as well as protect homeowners and plumbing businesses alike. WaterSafe has the backing of all UK water suppliers and water quality regulators, having been developed by all seven existing Approved Contractors' Schemes. Although it hasn't been around long WaterSafe seems to be making a huge impression on the plumbing world, exceeding expectations and targets when it comes to membership figures.

Now WaterSafe have teamed up with BPEC to create a course that ensures plumbers receive all the qualifications required to join the scheme. The specially designed qualification is equivalent to the NVQ Level 2 and Water Regulations certificates - both of which are qualifications we offer here at Access Training Academies. So while the specialised course itself is still rolling out across the country (to date only three training centres in the UK have been given the go-ahead to run it), aspiring plumbers elsewhere should know that we can still offer them the means to eventually become part of this great (and FREE) scheme. 

To find out more about our intensive plumbing courses and the qualifications you'll need to be viewed as an experienced, competent and QUALIFIED plumber, give our course advice team a call on 0800 345 7492. Stamping out rouge tradespeople is something we all need to be a part of, and the first step toward doing that is properly setting them apart from the honest ones in the country such as yourself.

Explosively unsafe: Unvented Cylinders

by Alex 20. January 2014 10:04

As we've previously mentioned, Access Training have made a few changes to the way we run the Unvented Cylinders plumbing course recently. With the new City & Guilds syllabus our course follows, students are now required physically commission and maintain a cylinder in order to achieve the qualification. This is important as it will make sure candidates are physically familiar with unvented cylinders rather than just having a theoretical knowledge of how to handle them. Knowing in theory is all well and good, but this is one area inparticularly that can go wrong without the right skills and know-how.

An Unvented Cylinder is a hot water storage system that relies on storage cylinders fed directly from cold water mains and do not incorporate a vent pipe to relieve excess build-up pressure to atmosphere. The pressure for the hot water system is then derived from the mains pressure supply rather than a cold water storage tank. The advantages of using such a system include:

  • Balanced pressure in both hot and cold taps for showers
  • Higher water pressures available for hot taps
  • No storage cistern, eliminating any risk of contamination
  • Can be fitted anywhere in the house, making them suitable for one-storey dwellings
  • Quicker to install with less pipework and no cold storage tanks needed in the loft
  • Can possibly be used with smaller diameter pipework
  • Gives architects and service designers greater flexibility of design

Unvented cylinders are also the only systems currently used with renewable energy supplies such as ground & air heat pumps and underfloor heating, due to their nature of being almost 100% energy efficient. This makes them even more of an important thing as households strive to become greener and save energy (as well as money!).

However despite these numerous advantages installers should still show great caution and care when dealing with unvented cylinders, as failing to properly install them is extremely dangerous. Unvented hot water systems usually operate above atmospheric pressure and unless the right measures are taken to prevent overheating, the results can be quite explosive to say the least. Just have a look at this video of what can happen if adequate checks and protection haven't been made:

VIEW ON YOUTUBE

But don't let this video put you off them. As long as they are installed correctly with all of the proper safety precautions in place unvented cylinders are perfectly safe. All plumbers handling unvented cylinders are required to be qualified in accordance with Part G of the Building Regulations, which can be achieved through the Access Training Academies Unvented Hot Water Cylinders course.

For more information on our Unvented course or our wider range of intensive plumbing courses, please take a look at the plumbing section linked on the left hand side of the page. Alternatively, you can speak to our course advice team to have any questions you may have answered personally - simply call 0800 345 7492 or fill in the information form provided on this website.

New Changes to Gas Courses

by Alex 13. January 2014 10:22

2014 is already shaping up to be a big year for Access Training Academies, and today (the 13th January) marks the first steps we'll be taking to make your training experience here even better. This year ACS gas assessments will be returning to our Cardiff training centre.

Now students that complete their gas training at Access will be able to complete their Logic ACS (Accredited Certification Scheme) gas assessments here. ACS is the industry recognised and accepted route for students to enter into the gas industry, earning their gas certificate which is needed to become a member of the Gas Safe Register. This itself is a legal requirement to be able to work on all gas installations and appliances in the UK. These assessments will not only be available to those who have completed an extensive gas course here, but is also open to others who may have completed a gas course elsewhere.

Students will be able to complete both the written and practical assessments required to qualify, covering the CCN1 Core Domestic Gas Safety module and then any of the additional appliance assessments relevant to your area of work. This includes the CENWAT (Central Heating Boilers & Water Heaters) qualification, CKR1 (Cookers), HTR1 (Gas Fires) and more. For a full list of what we can offer you here at Access, please get in contact.

To find out more about ACS gas assessments, our plumbing training or any of the many other trades training courses we provide here at Access please get in contact with our course advice team on 0800 345 7492 or via the form provided on this website. They'll be more than happy to answer any further questions you might have, as well as arrange of a tour of our facilities so you can get a first-hand look at what we do.

Are missed calls costing you?

by Alex 7. January 2014 11:51

While we try to give you as much practical and theoretical knowledge as we can on your plumbing training course, there are some things that plumbing courses can't teach. You could have all the skills you need for a successful business, but something as little as missing a few phonecalls can cost you.

In fact, research from new business-orientated phone service everreach has estimated that plumbers are potentially losing around £500's worth of business a week due to missed phone calls. The survey, entitled "Running Your Small Business Better", looked at all the issues missed calls could cause - from loss of revenue to more personal elements such as what extent out of hours work calls might impact on time with the family.

Looking at cost, the survey found that more often than not tradespeople didn't have a dedicated landline business number. With the trade being one that gets you out and about a lot, 87% of respondents use a mobile as their main business number. The survery itself wasn't specifically aimed at plumbers, however they were top when it comes to receiving the hightest number of calls for new work. It also revealed that with plumbers losing around £500 worth of business every week, the yearly total of lost income is a shocking £26,000.

Moving onto how calls affect working time, over a quarter of tradesmen surveyed said they can't switch their phones off at home as they frequently have to take work calls. 60% said either their partner/children have accidentally answered their work calls in the past, while 21% admitted to accidentally deleting a voicemail themselves before listening to it or taking the number down. A final element looked into was the risks some trademen will take when answering calls, with four out of five admitting that they would be tempted to answer the phone while in an "unsafe situation". Examples of this included while working up a ladder or lifting heavy objects.

"Missed calls mean missed revenue opportunities," said Nick Mullen, chief executive officer of everreach. "The figures equate to hundreds of thousands of pounds in potentially lost revenue just in relation to the plumbers covered by our survey." So once you've finished your plumbing training and are about to start your new life as a self-employed plumber, remember to keep those words in mind. While no tradesperson should be expected to be readily available for phonecalls are every waking hour, working out the best compromise to ensure the minimal amount of business lost is essential to making the most of your new career.

Via HVP Mag

More rugby to retraining with Xavier Rush.

by Alex 16. December 2013 13:07

Having fully completed his professional electrician course, ex-rugby player and Access Academies student Xavier Rush has now turned his attention towards retraining in a second trade and begun a plumbing training course with us. We caught up with him during the fourth week of his six week course to find out how he's getting on and how the plumbing training has differed from his previous experience with the electrical training course. One thing's for sure, it's a very different experience to playing rugby for both the All Blacks and Cardiff Blues...

How are you finding the change from electrical work to a plumbing course?

It’s definitely the most practical I’ve done so far! There was a lot of theory with the electric but theory there is here is probably a lot easier to grasp. But then it’s also far more hands on too. It’s very busy – we’ve been working with low carbon steel and a lot of copper as well. I fitted a bathroom last week which was enjoyable – it’s nice to step back and see the results sometimes.

But a lot like the electric these are intense course and you pick up a lot of information and skills quickly. It helps that you’re learning from people who’ve been in the industry a long time.

Had you done any plumbing before starting the course?

No, before this I didn’t have a thing – I couldn’t even stop a leak. You’ve got to pick it up quite quickly as there’s no one there holding your hand. Once you’ve got an understanding of it all it gets a lot easier. It’s just knowing what fittings do what and what products you’re working with, that sort of thing.

Have you found anything especially difficult over the last four weeks?

I suppose it just takes you a while before you get competent with everything really. Nothing is truly mind boggling. There were a few issues fitting a bath, but it’s the kind of stuff you can get your head around.

How have the tutors been?

They’ve been great and a really big help this week especially. They don’t baby you at all, but make sure to tell you exactly where you’ve gone wrong – which is exactly what they need to do. If you were working in someone’s house and you spring a leak and their lounge ceiling falls in you’re going to be in trouble. So you’ve just got to know. It’s just like anything – the more you practice you have, the better you get. Its good being here because if you’re going to make mistakes make them here, that way I can waste your copper rather than mine!

How have you found the studying at home element of the course?

Like I said, you are picking up a lot of information in a short time so while you’re here you’ve really got to apply yourself for the six weeks. There’s a lot of going home, revising, getting ready for exams because if you don’t do the homework you don’t get the passes. You have got to read the book and retain that information. I’ve had many a late night drinking coffees at Starbucks looking like a bit of a geek.

And finally, how much time do you have left here before you’re all done?

I’ve got two more weeks after Christmas. It’s been an intense four weeks so it’ll be nice to have a bit of a break and then come back and hit it again. Because we’ve done so much over the last few weeks and put so many fittings together you should be able to retain a lot of the information. And then after that that’ll be it for me…for now! I might come back and do the one week electrical testing course just to freshen up on that. But it’s just brilliant to come here and reskill so quickly as an older person. I did carpentry when I left school but to think now I’ve got plumbing and electric qualifications backing that up. And to feel confident with that within ten weeks is berserk really – they’re skills you’ve obviously got for life.

I can look at stuff in houses now and understand it. Obviously it doesn’t give you all the experience – you’re still going to go out there and make mistakes but it’s given me a really good grasp of both industries, both the electric and the plumbing.

As Xavier approaches the end of his Access Academies training, we'll be talking to him again in the new year to discuss his overall experiences and his plans for the future. In the meantime if you have any questions you'd like to ask him about changing careers and retraining in a new trade, please let us know over on Twitter or Facebook. If you yourself would like more information on Access' extensive range of trades training courses (also including gas engineering, carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, tiling and painting/decorating), please get in contact with one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

WaterSafe Hits Halfway Mark

by Alex 9. December 2013 10:00

New competency scheme WaterSafe seems to be a hit with qualified plumbers, as the orgainisation has proudly announced it has already hit the halfway mark for its registration target. 

Officially launched back on the 8th October, WaterSafe was created to bring all Approved Plumber Schemes under one umbrella and provide recognition for Britain's competant and qualified plumbers. The scheme acts as a national register, accreditation body and online directory designed to provide consumers with assurance that the tradespeople they hire are fully qualified. Since launch it has signed up 54% of its overall target for business registrations, with these figures also constituting 60% of the target for recognised individuals.

Those about to complete their plumbing course or plumbing training may want to consider registration with WaterSafe, as it is set to become to biggest search facility for plumbers in the UK - giving you excellent opportunity to be noticed online and gain valuable (and most importantly, free!) promotion. Members will also be given WaterSafe stationery and branding for their vehicles to gain extra credibility.

Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe has said that this response has "already surpassed all expectations" and that the scheme looks forward to gaining more members in the months to come. She added that this was really only the beginning for WaterSafe and then said:

"As we continue to grow, we would encourage all plumbing businesses to sign up with us. Together, we can ensure properly qualified professionals will get the credit they deserve by working together to drive out unethical trading and refocus safety standards for all."

You can find out more about WaterSafe by visiting www.watersafe.org.uk

Why Plumbing Training can be better than a Degree

by Alex 20. November 2013 09:04

Loose Women's Janet Street Porter wrote an interesting piece in the Daily Mail last week about how university degrees are becoming less and less relevant in the working world, with more students ending up in jobs that have no relation to what they studied whatsoever. She also suggests that it's time for colleges to start focussing on offering trade learning such as plumbing, construction and electrical engineering. Her words - "Show me a poor plumber - there certainly aren't any in Central London."

She isn't wrong, yesterday the Guardian reported that half of recent UK graduates are stuck working in non-graduate jobs according the Office of National Statistics. Specialising in a trade is becoming more and more appealing to young people, which means taking up a plumbing training course could prove far more valuable to your future than a university degree. For a start an Access Academies plumbing course can be completed in a matter of weeks, as opposed to the average of three years you'd spend at university. With the relevant plumbing qualifications you'll be out making money as a professional in a matter of weeks, while with a university degree you'll be coming out years later with no guarantee of a job and that rather sizeable student loan looming over you.

There's also the matter of a plumbing training course giving you a skill for life. A university degree can teach you some really valuable things, no one is denying that. But the harsh truth is Britain is still very much in the midst of a recession, and you'd be entering any job you might find at the bottom of the ladder. And when the going gets tough sadly these are usually the people a business is first to let go of. With an intensive plumbing course behind you, you'll have a skill for life that's always going to be in demand. Working plumbing is something we would struggle to live without, and so a trustworthy plumber is someone that's going to be on call in every household. Not only that, but it's the perfect skill to take on and make into a self-employed business meaning you won't have to deal with pushy bosses or the constant worry of redundancy. Decide when you want to work and for home much, taking the jobs you want/need and build up a friendly relationship with your customers so they'll be sure to call on you again! 

Finally, and here's the best bit - anyone can learn a trade at any age. To get into university you'll need to earn the right grades, and that relies on you doing well in exams. But what if exam situations aren't for you? Exams can cause a great deal of pressure and certainly aren't a flawless way of gauging someone's intelligence. With our plumbing courses, we'll teach you everything you need to know from the ground up and are just as welcoming toward newcomers as we are to those who may have some previous experience in the plumbing trade.

So is university still sounding like the best option for you? If you'd like to work toward a more active and physical career with greater rewards and better job security, I think the choice is obvious. Come to Access Training Academies and train to be a plumber on any one of our intensive training courses. With experienced tutors, small initmate class sizes and state-of-the-art work areas, our number one goal is get you the skills you need to make this dream a reality. To find out more and speak to one of our course advisers, please give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Thank You Toilet

by Alex 19. November 2013 10:12

You don't to have done a plumbing training course to know that there's more to being a plumber/gas engineer than just working - they also play a pretty big part in promoting awareness. Back in September we had Gas Safety Week, and this week also happens to be Carbon Monoxide Awareness week. This isn't the only thing going on this week though, as WaterAid have also proclaimed the 19th November as World Toilet Day and are asking everyone to take a second to say "thank you toilet".

It might not sound like a big deal to many people and something that only takes up a fraction of a plumbing course, but toilets are a big part of modern plumbing and having one makes a huge impact on our lives. Toilets are considered to be one of the most basic human rights, yet alarmingly one in three of the world's population (around 2.5 BILLION people) still don't have one.

Here's a few more facts that will undoubtedly make you appreciate your porcelein throne a little bit more:

  • Around 700,000 children die every year caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. That's almost 2,000 children a day.
  • Every year around 60 million children are born into homes without access to proper sanitation.
  • More people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet. Scary isn't it?

For the first time World Toilet Day has been recognised as an official day by the UN, and WaterAid is doing what it can to help build thousands of toilets across the world. Using local materials and low-cost solutions, they're always looking for new ways to deal with human waste. The money they spend had also shown to have significant economic benefits - for every £1 invested there's around a £4 return. 

WaterAid has also contributed toward a new report into sanitation and woman's health, which can be read HERE. So just take a minute to do what Louie the Loo asks and celebrate your toilet. It does a lot for you so it's only right to say thank you once in a while.

British Bathroom Fittings Are "Most Reliable"

by Alex 18. November 2013 11:14

When it comes to bathroom fitting it seems the homemade goods are the best ones, with new research finding British tradespeople to believe UK goods are far more reliable than those produced abroad.

The research, which comes from online bathroom retailer UKBathrooms.com, looked at 1,012 tradespeople from all of the UK who work with bathroom fixtures and fittings in order to gauge opinion. With a total of 47% agreeing that British made products are superior, it seems the majority of fitters are opting to buy from UK manufacturers wherever they can.

Questions asked for the research included:

  • "Do you take into account where a product is manufactured before buying?" 62% believed this to important, while the rest didn't seem to care as long as it did the job.
  • "Which manufacturing country do you believe produces the most reliable bathroom fittings/products?" This was posed to all that had answered yes to the previous question, with Britain coming out on top with the aforementioned statistic. Coming in second were Chinese made products with 19%, while Germany took the third place spot with 16%
  • "Do you regularly purchase British made bathroom fittings?" With 67% answering 'yes' to this. When asked why, reliability was the most common reason with 57% explaining that British made products tended to have better longevity. 35% also cited that support was much better, as any problems with UK items could be easily fixed. 24% even said they simply preferred the "design and style" of the home products!
  • Finally, respondents were asked "Do you think it's important for tradespeople to support British made products?" 52% believed it is indeed important, with 61% agreeing that the UK industry needed their support. 40% also said that they do so to keep Britain's bathroom manufacturing industry in good demand.

UKBathrooms.com director Peter Gregg commented that he was pleased to know UK-based bathroom manufacturers are "held in such high esteem amongst tradespersons". He then went on to discuss the benefits the company has seen in using them itself - a higher level of quality control, easier to source and shorter lead times than buying from production lines in the Far East.

He concluded by saying: "The manufacturing industry’s love affair with the market in the Far East has taken a knock over the last few years as more and more suppliers are looking at the possibility of a return to the UK. Tradespersons being supportive of UK manufacturing can only be a good thing to those looking at the possibility of coming back to Britain."

Fancy learning all about bathroom installations and having a go at it yourself, with the aim to even turn professional? If you're looking for a more active line of work, Access Training Academies offer high quality bathroom fitting training courses that will give you the skills and qualifications to make that a reality. At the end you'll also have the perfect grounding to continue on to more advanced plumbing training should you so wish. Give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and our course advisers will be happy to tell you more. Don't delay and book your place today!

Is your boiler feeling neglected?

by Alex 6. November 2013 10:43

According to new research commissioned by ADEY Professional Heating Solutions, installers and heating engineers might have a huge opportunity at their fingertips.

It seems that millions of homeowners across the UK are failing to maintain their central heating systems properly, resulting in not only a loss of efficiency but a reduced lifespan and an increase in the amount of energy needed to heat homes. Their research looked at more than 1300 homeowners across the UK, with only 55% of them confirming that they have their boiler serviced annually. One in 20 even said that they considered it an unneccesary expense!

ADEY also found that 45% of homeowners claim to have a boiler between 10 and 15 years old, with 25% who have lived in their current home for more than 15 years saying that they have never once had their boiler serviced. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) of homeowners have a problem with their central heating system, with one in 20 suffering from low heat levels. One in 10 people put up with noisy pipework in their homes – a common indicator of debris in the heating system – and 15% of people admitted they turn the thermostat up to try to fix their boiler, burning more fuel than necessary on a healthy heating system.

Consumer/environmental broadcaster Lucy Siegle said: "Boilers are the 'forgotten workhorses' of our homes. We expect them to carry on pumping away without any TLC, but homeowners need to understand that a well-maintained system costs less to run. This is where installers have a great opportunity to use their insider knowledge and help their customers counter rising energy bills by ensuring their heating systems work safely and efficiently."

ADEY’s commercial director Rebekah Howard added: "The results of our research suggest that many people don’t understand the benefits that having an annual boiler service will bring, and worryingly, just let their good old boiler in the corner keep chugging away without giving it any attention.

"The current climate presents installers with a timely opportunity to be telling customers how a well-maintained and efficient boiler can help save money on heating bills, reduce the risk of it breaking down when it’s cranked up to keep them warm, and ensure it’s safe to use. Installers can be assured that many of their customers will welcome this advice, as three quarters of homeowners surveyed wanted to know about the simple changes they can make to the central heating to reduce energy bills."

More findings from the search can be seen in the infographic below:

Via HVP Magazine

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By becoming a qualified heating engineer, you too will be able to seize this opportunity for work. Not only that, but the life of a qualified plumber/engineer is varied, challenging and pays extremely well. You'll find yourself not only with a skill you'll have for the rest of your life, but a career that's never short of new work. But before any of this can happen, you'll need that right training and qualifications. Offering plumbing and gas engineer courses as both separate and combined packages, Access Training Academies is dedicated to helping students attain their goal of becoming professionally qualified, taking those first steps toward a brand new career. To find out more about how our courses can help you, contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492 and book your place today!

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