Via HVP Mag

New research from Screwfix has found that British trademen are working longer hourse than ever, even going as far as sacrificing holidays and weekends, in order to squeeze in more jobs.

It found that tradesmen work on averafe between 41 and 50 hours a week, which is more than bankers, medical practitioners and barristers/judges (who clocked in at 40.9, 38.4 and 36 hours respectively). A fifth of tradesmen admitted to working more than 50 hours a week - well about the UK average of 36.4 hours!

Not only that, but they are also not taking the annual statutory entitlement of 28 days, with one in six only taking fewer than 10 days off each year. Only 1% take more than an hour's lunch break, with three quarters of those surveyed happy to skip it altogether.

John Mewett, marketing director for Screwfix, said: “We know how hard tradesmen work, but the research really brought home how many hours they are putting in each week and how stretched they really are.

“For a lot of tradesmen, time is money, and so any opportunity to squeeze in an extra job is snatched up. This can mean long working hours and driving further from home to increase their workload. However, by finding ways to work more effectively, they can cut their working hours.”

The full infographic from Screwfix also included these interesting tidbits on tradesman habits:

 

  • 87% are driving the same amount or more this year
  • 62% eat a packed lunch each day
  • Tea is the most popular drink of choice, winning with 57% of the vote
  • 8 out of 10 skip meals while working
  • Average lunch break for tradesmen is 10 – 20 minutes
  • 73% think they don’t take enough exercise
  • 17% walk to work
  • 83% are working the same hours or more this year
Thinking of becoming a self-employed tradesman? Wanting to become your own boss and choose the hours you work and the jobs you do? Train with Access Training on your chosen trade and gain the qualifications you'll need to make this dream a reality. For more information please have a look at the course information on the website or phone 0800 345 7492 to speak to one of our sales team.

 

Last month not-for profit training charity JTL launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging more women into trade (particularly electric and plumbing) apprenticeships. Its launch was marked by a parliamentary reception and is back by a number of MPs, including Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

Currently, women make up just 2% of apprentices in the construction sector, and around 1% of apprentices within the electrotechnical industry. To help try and raise these numbers, JTL have appointed 10 inaugural apprentice ambassadors (all of which are former JTL apprentices) - chosen for their personal success and passion when it comes to promoting apprenticeships. These people will then travel across England and Wales, speaking at schools and local events in an attempt to encourage more young women to sign up. The apprentice ambassadors will also act as mentors to any girl who signs up for a JTL apprenticeship, with the charity also hoping to appoint more ambassadors next year as the scheme grows.

JTL chairman Dr Ian Livsey said: “We wanted to bring the ambassadors to Westminster to highlight the issues which prevent women from entering these apprenticeships. We have helped more than 40,000 apprentices train over the last 24 years, but only a small percentage have been female. This has been because women don’t see building services as something that they can do. This perception is something we need to change. Hopefully, by hearing the stories from the ambassadors and by seeing that employers are willing to support female apprentices, more young women will want to take up apprenticeships in the electrical, plumbing and heating and ventilating sectors, and make that first step to a skilled career.”

Now in their 23rd year, JTL was originally established by the Electrical Contractors Association and Unite the Union to manage training in the electrical sector. The company works with more than 120 colleges/private training centres, to which they sub-contract the knowledge syllabus elements of the NVQ Diploma.

Need to complete a plastering DIY job but have absolutely no idea where to start? Considering a career change to plastering but lack the expertise to make it happen? Fear not, Access Training is on hand to help prepare you for whatever it is that lies ahead. Like with all trades, the first step is to take a look at exactly what it is and understand some of the terms and definitions you'll come across. To assist with this, we've put together a brief list of some of the common plastering definitions to get you started;

Accelerator: A material that shortens the setting time of plasters and other cement-like materials.

Admixture: Any substance added to a plaster component or plaster mortar for the purpose of modifying its properties.

Aggregate: Granular material that does not contribute to the hardening reaction of the mortar.

Bonding Mortar: A mortar to produce a first bonding coat in a multicoat system. Usually applied in a thin coat.

Correction Time: The maximum time interval during which adjustment is possible without significant loss of final strength. This may be also referred to as adjustability.

Dot and Dab: A technique used to attach plasterboard to walls using small lumps of adhesive.

Float: A tool or procedure used to straighten and level the finish coat, to correct surface irregularities prodDouced by other tools, or to bestow a distinctive surface texture.

Grout:  A mortar or paste for filling crevices, esp. the gaps between wall or floor tiles

Hawk: A tool used by plasterers to hold and carry plaster.

Mortar: A plastic mixture composed of water and a cementitious material, which may be machine or hand applied, and which hardens in place.

Screed: To level or straighten a plaster coat application with a rod, darby or other similar tool

Setting Time: The time after which the mortar begins to harden. After this time the mortar is normally stable in the presence of water.

Substrate: Immediate surface to which the mortar is to be applied. In the case of a coating to be applied to an existing render, the render would be the coating's substrate.

Unsound: This refers to the condition of plaster where the hardened mass has lost internal strength, exhibiting cracking/spalling/delamination/etc. This general state may be contributed to by excessive aggregate addition, water damage, poor drying conditions, overwatering and other factors.

Now that you know some of the definitions you may come across when plastering, its time to have a go at the real thing. However attempting a job without proper training could not only prove expensive, but you might end up doing lasting damage to the wall or surface you're working on. To get the most rounded plastering experience the best option is a comprehensive plastering course from Access Training. With a variety of different courses for different skill levels, our experienced teaching staff will either fully prepare you for future DIY work or help you attain the vital qualifications needed to gain employment as a professional plasterer. With our courses open to people of all ages and backgrounds, you could just be a phonecall away from gaining a valuable new skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life. To find out more please take a look at our courses page or call us on 0800 345 7492.

To round of the week we turn to capentry for our quick definition guide. Hopefully this post will give you a beginner understanding of some of the more basic terms carpenters use, and you'll be able to use them to build up your own DIY knowledge or even as the first step in becoming a professional carpnenter!

Architrave: The ornamental mouldings fitted around a door or window frame. These also cover the joint between the plaster and wood framing.

Auger: A long drill-bit-like tool turned with the hands, usually by means of a handle.

Bead: A rounded shape cut into a square edge to soften the edge and provide some protection against splitting. When several beads are placed together, they are called Reeds. If the bead lies below the surface, it is referred to as a Sunk Bead.

Bench Hook: A workbench accessory used to provide a stop against a piece of wood being worked can be placed to hold it steady whilst cutting, planing, or chiseling that piece of wood.

Brace: A part of a timber or metal structure spanning a diagonal space that adds strength and stability, and resists compression or tension.

Dado: Decorative panelling applied to the lower part of an internal wall.

Dado Rail: Decorative moulding applied to an internal wall at a height of around 1m. 

Dowel: A short length of wood, round in section, used for a variety of purposes such as joining timbers, plugging fixing holes etc.

Eaves: The bottom edge of a roof that meets the walls of the structure. This is also where the water is collected into the gutter.

Fibreboard: A lightweight and weak manufactured board often used when making cheaper furniture.

Grain: The appearance, size and direction of the fibres of the timber.

Hardboard: Manufactured board made with compressed particles of wood formed together. One side of the board smooth with the other side rough. Hardboard in sheet form is often used and subfloor covering to give a smooth and flat surface.

Joists: Lengths of timbers that support ceilings and floors, usually fixed in parallel.

Mitre: A 45 degree angle joint that neatly joins two pieces of timber together.

Stud wall: A timber framed internal wall faced with plasterboard that is non-load bearing.

While this should be enough to get you started on the theory side of things, the next step is to find the correct carpentry training that can offer you exactly what you need. You might want to gain qualifications and seek employment as a professional carpenter, or alternatively you could simply be looking tp build up your DIY skill set properly. Access Training offer a range of carpentry courses to suit both parties, and are available to everyone no matter their background or skill level. To find out more about what we can give you, take a look at our courses page or give our team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Continuing our series of glossaries to help getting budding tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts on their way, we next turn to the world of tiling. Can't tell a grout from an adhesive? The term "base row" got you confused? Here's a list of some of the most common tiling definitions to help get you started;

Base row: This is your first row of tiles. Laying this is an important stage of tiling, as this provides the foundations for the rest of the tiles. These tiles must be straight, so be sure to use a spirit level.

Bond:  The adherence of one material to another. Effective bonds must be achieved between the scratch coat and mortar, between the mortar and tile, and between the backing and adhesive.

Border Tile: Borders add colour, pattern and texture to a tiling scheme and are available in porcelain, ceramic, glass and natural stone.

Fixing Time:  The length of time, after applying an adhesive, that the tiles can be fixed.

Grout: A cement-like setting mix used for filling in the gaps between tiles once the adhesive has set. It is available in a range of different colours.

Grout sealant/sealer: Most grouts are porous, meaning they absorb water over time which can cause problems with mould, damp and dirt. To prevent this, a grout sealant is applied over the grout once it has set.

Mounted Tile:  Tiles that have been assembled into sheets or units onto suitable material to facilitate handling and installation. They may be back-mounted, face-mounted or edge-mounted.

Set Time:  The time, usually in hours, after which a bonded tile can be grouted and/or walked upon without affecting the bond. The set time for ready mixed adhesives varies greatly depending on the materials used.

Spacers: Cross-shaped plastic pieces that are used to ensure an equal gap between tiles when laying them.

Tanking:  Applying a liquid waterproof membrane, usually incorporating a mesh, in areas such as showers to protect moisture sensitive background substrates from water impregnation.

Tile Adhesive: A special type of glue used for bonding tiles to a surface. There are different varieties available depending on the area to be tiled, such as standard, waterproof and heatproof adhesives. Standard adhesive should only be used if the area you are tiling will not come into contact with water.

However knowing these definitions is only going to help you so much. To be able to tile kitchens, bathrooms and more to a professional standard, what you'll need is an intensive tiling training course. Access Training offer a number of tiling courses that will not only provide DIYers with the skills they need for their latest home rennovation project, but also the qualifications trainee tilers need for a long and rewarding career in the tiling industry. For more information visit our courses page or contact us on 0800 345 7492 to book your place today!

Following our plumbing glossary yesterday, Access Training have also put together a brief post covering common electrical terms that will be handy for all the aspiring electricians out there - whether they're DIY enthusiasts or aiming for a professional career.

Bonding: The process by which all metal parts in a circuit are electrically connected together and then linked to a real earth. This is done to prevent any metal component within a building becoming dangerous should it become live due to an electrical fault or damage. Any fault should cause the circuit protection device to operate and isolate the incoming mains.

BS 7671: Currently in its 17th Edition, this is the UK national safety standard for electrical installation work.

Consumer Unit: These are used to control and distribute electricity around the home. They usually contain a mains switch, fuses/circuit breakers and one or more residual current devices.

Earthing: In the event that there is a fault in the circuit, this will minimise the risk of an electric shock. It provides a path for the faulty current to flow safely to earth, causing the protective device (such as a fuse) to disconnect the circuit and stop the danger. An electrician should check that the earthing and bonding is satisfactory before starting any work.

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): A report on the condition of your electrical wiring, containing an overall assessment of the safety of the wiring, observations on its condition, and a number of recommendations (in order of priority) for action (if any is required) to restore the wiring to a satisfactory condition for continued safe use. These were formerly known as Periodic Inspection Reports (PIRs).

Flush-fitted: These are electrical switched or sockets that have been installed so that their back boxes are contained within the wall or ceiling, making only the front plates visible. This often looks nicer than surface mounted connections but usually requires chasing to complete.

Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB): These are automatic protective devices fitted into fuse boxes. They will disconnect a circuit should there be a fault or overload.

Part P: The specific section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales, which relates to electrical installations in domestic properties.

Surface-mounted: This is when switches and sockets are installed on top of a surface rather than behind it. While it is less seamless than flush-fitted installations, it causes less disruption to any decoration that surface may have.

Two Way Switch:  Switches which can be used in pairs so that either can turn a light on or off. Each switch has terminals allowing them to be linked using Three Core and Earth cable.

Of course once again this is only a very brief look at some of the things electricians come across on a daily basis, and is no substitute for proper comprehensive electrical training. If you would like to find out more about what it takes to become an electrician, earn valuable skills and the qualifications to go professional - Access Training have exactly what you need. With courses suitable for both trainees and homeowners looking to do a spot of DIY on their property, now has never been a better time to gain a better understanding of the electrical trade. Please visit the courses section of our website or alternatively get in touch with our team on 0800 345 7492.

While good practical training may be the most vital quality to have in a plumber, it's important that they also have a good grasp of the common terminology they may come across while on the job. So Access Training have put together a very basic glossary of various plumbing terminology, which will hopefully be of benefit to some of you.

Actual capacity: The amount of water contained in a cistern or other container when it is full to its practical working level.

Air-lock: Air trapped in pipes, causing a reduction or complete stop in the flow of liquid.

Back-siphon: A condition where the flow of liquid is reversed and siphons back towards the source, which can lead to contamination.

Bar: The unit that water pressure is measured in.

Bleed valve: A valve that releases air from the central heating system.

Cistern: A contained used for holding water at atmospheric pressure.

Flow rate: The volume of water that is delivered to a tap, recorded in litres per minute (l/m) or litres per second (l/s).

Grey water: Waste water from domestic processes.

Hard water: Water which contains a higher level of calcium salts, making it an alkaline. When heated it deposits the salts on various components in a system, causing "furring up".

Main water valve: The main water shutoff that prevents any water from going into any of the pipes or plumbing. Plumbers may refer to it as the main shutoff valve.

Nominal capacity: The amount of water contained in a cistern or other container when it is full to the top edge.

Soft water: Rain water that falls on peaty, moorland and sandstone areas and is acidic. Soft water is better for washing, but can lead to many corrosion problems.

Stopcock: A hand operated on/off valve permitting water flow in one direction. The house stopcock is located where the supply enters the property, and can be used to shutoff water to all fixtures in the house.

Storage cistern: A specific type of cistern used for storing water to be used, such as delivering hot and cold water through pipework.

Supply pipe: A pipe that carries mains cold water around the home.

Tank: A container that is not open to atmosphere, usually a non-cylindrical closed vessel.

Vent pipe: Pipe that allows the release of air or water from a hot water system.

Of course this is only a very brief glossary, and missing many of the things you'll need to know as a professional plumber. If you would like to learn more and perhaps even gain the qualifications needed to become a plumber, an Access Training plumbing course could be exactly what you're looking for. To find out more please visit the courses section of our website or give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

New research conducted by Pink Plumbers, a national brand delivering female plumbers, has found that more women have the desire to become their own boss in the workplace then men.

The research, which was carried out last May, had a sample of 2000 adults from across the UK. It found that almost two out of three people (63%) wanted to take the steps toward self-employment. A total of 66% women wanted to be their own boss, narrowing out the males asked who came in at 60%.

Pink Plumbers was set up by single mother and entrepreneur Jo Lawrence, who created the franchise to make it easier for women wanting to join the plumbing trade by offering support and confidence. There is a clear gap in the market for female plumbers, with her research also noting that 86% of women think there should be more women working as plumbers. 69% of men also agreed.

Apart from setting up her Pink Plumbers franchise, Lawrence has also been proactive in organising a series of college roadshows across the UK, speaking to students about her own experiences as a plumber. She will also be publishing a book titled Hints and Tips for the Practical Plumber, which is due for release in September. It is designed to provide business and plumbing tips to help plumbers navigate through the difficulty of setting themselves up. 

Encouraging trainee plumbers to take the steps to become self-employed is also something we encourage here at Access Training. As well as providing you with vital qualifications through our range of bespoke plumbing courses, our teaching staff will also guide you on how to set up your own plumbing business. If you would like to find out more about what Access can offer you, please contact us on 0800 345 7492.

Via HVP Magazine

New Government figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government have shown an impressive surge in house building between April and June this year.

The statistics show that during this period there were a total of 29,510 new homes started - 6% highter than the previous quarter, and a third higher than the same time last year. Seasonally adjusted private enterprise completions increased by 11%.

This growth in the construction sector has been attribued to the wide range of government measures currently in play, which have also led to the hightest number of first-time buyers and lowest level of repossessions since 2007.  These include;

  • New housing supply at its highest level since 2008, with a total 334,000 new homes built in England over the past 3 years
  • Over 150,000 new affordable homes built over the past 3 years thanks to the wide range of affordable housing programmes, including £19.5 billion of public and private investment over this Spending Review, and over £22 billion investment in the 3 years after that.
  • Interest rates kept low thanks to government action to tackle the deficit inherited from the last administration.
  • Over 10,000 reservations for newly-built homes in just the first 4 months of the government’s Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme.
  • The Funding for Lending scheme, which has increased the availability of competitively priced mortgages.

Communities Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Under the last administration, housebuilding fell to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s. But today’s figures clearly show government action is bringing confidence back into the housing market and getting Britain building again, with starts increasing by a third year-on-year. We’ve already delivered over 330,000 new homes over the past 3 years, and 150,000 affordable homes. There is more to do, but today’s figures reinforce the momentum towards getting Britain building again."

Of course these houses are going to need a lot of work done of them before they're inhabitable, and this is where you come in. The market is going to need electricians, plumbers, gas engineers, bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, tilers and decorators - and if you've every considered entering one of the trades, an Access Training course is all you need to do it. We get you the necessary qualifications to enter your chosen trade and start your journey to a career filled with success and variety. To find out more call us on 0800 345 7492 today.

With Gas Safety week coming up soon Access Training will be highlighting the importance of gas safety in our blog in the lead up to 16-22 September. However this isn't always going to be in a fun and educational way - yesterday the Heating, Ventilating & Plumbing magazine reported two separate instances of dishonest traders either fined or leaving people at risk because the tradesmen were not Gas Safe Registered.

The first article reports that a self-employed heating installer from King's Lynn was fined for illegally carrying out sub-standard gas work at two homes in Norfolk. Ryan Neale, trading as R. Neale Plumbing and Heating, installed gas appliances and pipework despite not being Gas Safe registered. He was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 for his work at each property – four charges in total.

Secondly, a London heating installer was also fined for illegal and unsafe gas work. Abhishev Yadav, 28, of Greenwich, installed a boiler at a property on Penywern Road, Earls Court, that was later classed as ‘at risk’ because the flue was not properly sealed or secured. He carried out the work in March 2011 on behalf of his firm Ability Heating, while falsely claiming to be Gas Safe registered. He was was fined a total of £7,500, and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs plus a £120 victim surcharge for breaching the same regulations.

In response to these stories,  Gas Safe Register chief executive Russell Kramer has issued this statement: "Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand. You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk.

Joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of any tradesman installing, maintaining and decommissioning gas appliances and can only be achieved when they have been awarded all of the relevant gas qualifications. The register can also be used by homeowners to search for a suitable tradesman in their area, or to ensure that the one they've hired is a legitimate gas engineer. 

If you're interested in earning the qualifications to become a qualified gas engineer, Access Training offer comprehensive gas courses that will have you well on your way to success. Completing our courses successfully will give you the skills and knowledge to join the Gas Safe Register and start a new and rewarding career. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

From: Professional Electrician & Installer

Findings from a recent survey into consumer attitudes to payments reveal that many self-employed tradespeople may be losing potential income by not being able to accept card payments.

However, there is competitive advantage to be gained as the survey shows that businesses adopting new card payment technology often attract more customers than those only accepting cash. In the last year, one-in-five UK consumers has abandoned a purchase due to the trades person not accepting card payments or because they did not have enough cash, over half of consumers (54%) finding this lack of flexibility inconvenient.

The implications are far reaching:

  • 72% of consumers are left with a negative impression of a business that fails to accept cards
  • 28% of customers may also see this lack of service as poor customer service
  • 19% see lack of card payment options as being unprofessional
  • 18% even perceiving the business as unsuccessful or struggling
  • 87% state that they spend more money when paying by card as they purchase additional services or products, demonstrating the potential benefits on offer for those mobile workers that adopt the new service

Tradespeople have the potential to gain new customers by accepting card payments on the move. 38% of people saying that would prefer a tradesman (38%, an electrician 35% and a plumber 33%) if they accept card payments over one that doesn’t, even if the job quote, materials and service quality are the same.

The survey of 5176 people was conducted via online interviews with UK consumers (18+ year olds) during April 2013 for WorldPay.

As a consequence WorldPay has launched ‘WorldPay Zinc’ which allows tradesmen to use a mobile chip & pin keypad, costing £59.99, to take card payments on-site. Offering quick transfer of funds (usually 4 working days), this service offers a pay-as-you-go system of 2.75% per transaction.

This amounts to the tradesman having to pay £2.75 on every £100 pounds that is put through the card reader, this may seem to be a lot, but bear in mind some retail outlets pay 5% or more.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Gas Safe has proved time and time again to be an effective method in separating genuine gas engineers from cowboy traders, so that the general public know that when they hire a tradesman he or she is legitimate. But despite this, this sort of system is currently only available for gas engineers - so Joe Bloggs may not have the same level of certainty when hiring a plumber for wet work.

Until now that is. Or more precisely, October 8th 2013.

WaterSafe has been put together to provide a search facility of all Approved plimbers working in the UK, thanks to a partnership between UK water suppliers and the seven Approved Contractors' Schemes working across the UK. It will promote compliance with the Water Supply Regulations 1999 and Scottish Water Byelaws in order to protect the public and make it even more difficult for unqualified dishonest plumbers to get work. Unlike the Gas Safe register this isn't a legal requirement, but will publically show plumbers are both fully qualified and competent in their trade. So arguably its something that's probably in your best interest to do.

WaterSafe's website isn't open just yet, however it can be found at www.watersafe.org.uk where you can find all the relevant contact details to find out more about the scheme. Keep checking back to this blog, as we're sure to be covering more of this brilliant new scheme closer to its official launch.

In the meantime - if you have any outstanding plumbing qualifications or are looking to become a professional plumber yourself, have you considered a comprehensive plumbing course from Access Training? Our courses are suitable for both newcomers and experienced plumbers alike, so give us a call on 0800 345 7492 or check out the courses section of the site to find out more.