As we draw to the end of 2013 and all look forward to Christmas and the New Year, the staff at Access Training Academies would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holidays and a big thank you for all the support you've given us over the year. Access Training has continued to grow and provide the best trades training courses we possibly can. Look forward to more changes to our plumbing, electrician, gas and construction courses next year to make them even better, and we'll look forward to having you come and train with us.

Student training will resume on the 6th January, but in the meantime we have already started booking places for courses in 2014. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a handyman and would like to take it to the next step and become a professional tradesman, take the time to browse our website and have a look at the courses we offer.You can also get more information by calling 0800 345 7492 or alternatively filling in the information form found to the side of the page. Your details will be passed on to one of our professional course advisers who will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

It's a brand new year, and the perfect time for a brand new career.

With the planned building of millions of new homes across the UK well underway, many are also expecting a rise in new buyers over the next few years as Britain enjoys a well-needed construction boom. 

With this in mind, OFTEC - the group responsible for maintaining standards across the domestic oil heating and cooking industry, is offering some practical advice to those first-time buyers who may soon begin their search for the perfect home. This advice isn't just aimed at buyers of brand new homes either - it's especially geared toward those who may take on an existing home and not know what to look for in terms of their heating/hot water systems. Heating problems may be difficult to spot with the naked eye, especially to someone who hasn't done a plumbing training course or extensive gas training, but OFTEC offer these handy bits of advice to make sure you can walk into your new home with both buyer's satisfaction and peace of mind.

Be sure to check the boiler

Has it has had any problems in the past? When was the last time it was serviced? Boilers should be serviced annually for a number of reasons, mainly to make sure that is running efficiently and more importantly safely. If you are really unsure, it might be worth asking the current homeowner if you can have it looked at beforehand by a professional gas engineer.

Check the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

These give potential buyers valuable information about the property's typical energy usage and costs. An EPC grades the property’s energy efficiency from A to G and contains two particularly important areas - current features and recommendations for improving the home. The current features section lists the most significant energy-related features of the property and gives them a star rating based on cost. The recommendations give more information about each energy efficiency measure recommended and explains in general terms how it would improve the energy efficiency of the home.

How much do you know about the hot water system?

How is it heated? It might be worth checking the water pressure to make sure it is all up to scratch.

Know the warning signs

Occurances such as stained/smoke damaged areas around the boiler and flue are not to be ignored and should be treated VERY seriously. If any properties you view have these, make sure that a registered gas safe engineer doesn't just look at them for your safety - but also for the safety of the current homeowners. Other telltale signs of bad maintenance include leaks and staining on carpets near radiators.

Getting the house properly checked

OFTEC recommend getting valuations, an RICS homebuyer’s report or even a full structural survey. The valuation carried out by a mortgage company is not a survey, and will not inform you if there are any defects that materially affect the property’s value.

 

However the most important thing OFTEC recommend is trusting your instinct. if you think there is something wrong with the property, then don't just discard those feelings. However if you get a good feeling this may be the house for you - minor problems can easily fixed by competent tradespeople, but be sure to make sure the costs aren't racking up before you've even moved in!

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.

Here's something you probably won't hear about on your construction training course! Those that go into construction and find themselves working in a tower crane are often faced with the dilemma of needing to answer nature's call when working up high, however a new product is on the market that will hopefully solve all their problems!

This nifty little item is known as the Peebol, and was first released back in May 2013. It is a disposable urinal bag which converts liquid into a non-spill gel in a matter of seconds. The bag can be used multiple times, hold up to one litre of liquid AND be disposed of in a regular waste bin! Already advertised as being something ideal for long car journeys, adding fixing construction woes seems like a logical next step!

The product comes the minds at Schwee, who also think this item is for building sites with no toilet facilities. 

A genius idea or the silliest thing you've ever heard? One must wonder if this will ever take over from the age old technique of just going in a bottle...

Via Construction Enquirer

Via InstallerOnline

Despite the advances in electric fires and other forms of household heating, gas fires are still proving to be the number one choice for homes. So if you're looking to go out and get your gas certificate to become a qualified engineer, you'll be pleased to know that business is just as good as ever.

As well as the authenticity and flame effect which prove highly popular among the public, gas is still the cheapest fuel to run. On average, 1kW of gas supplied by British Gas costs just 4.662p (incl VAT) compared to nearly 14.259p (incl VAT) for 1kW of electricity - a number that seems to only be going up these days. Not only that, running a gas fire is actually more beneficial to the environment too, as it delivers half the CO2 emissions of an electric fire.

Gas fires are also far more efficient than they were back in the 80s, with developments in technology making them capable of delivering heat efficiencies of over 80% and heat outputs of 4.0kW - more than enough to heat your living room! But most of all a gas fire is reliable - if by chance your boiler were to break down over the winter (say, due to condensation freeze), you'll still be able to keep safe and warm until everything is back up and running.

Gas heating is just as vital now as it was 20 years ago, and Britain will continue to need engineers who have received the proper gas training. At Access Training you'll be able to learn all about the gas trade on one of our intensive training courses, eventually going on to complete a guaranteed work placement and subsequent ACS assessments. After that you'll be able to join the Gas Safe register and legally work on all forms of gas installation and appliance in the UK. Reckless gas maintenance can cost people their lives, so we're sure to make sure ALL of our students are training to the required professional standard.

To find out more give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492.

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

Is the popularity of a good relaxing bath in decline?

A new study from online bathroom retailer UK Bathrooms seem to think so, as their research has found order trends and customer feedback for baths has had a 54% decrease in the last year. On the other hand, the popularity of showers seems stronger than ever which has seen a staggering 72% increase. The study even found that three quarters of British homeowners would choose to install a shower in their home over a bath.

The survey looked at 1342 homeowners in the country, and was part of ongoing research into the opinion about bathroom styles. Respondents were also revealed the reasons why they considered showers to be superior to baths - 46% considered it much quicker, while 34% also added that a shower left them feeling much cleaner than a bath did.

Moving on to bathrooms themselves, 40% of respondants only had showers in their bathrooms, with 28% only having a bath and 32% owning both. If they were to move or rennovate their bathrooms, 78% said that installating a shower was of much higher priority than a bath. Why? 51% considered showers to be the speedier option, while 37% also preferred it because showers take up much less space than a bathtub.

Whether you're a bath or shower person (or both!), the winner here is still bathroom installers and plumbers in general. Whether your customer wants a shower or bath (or again, both!) installed, a fully qualified plumber is the only man for the job. If you're interested in specifically going into bathroom fitting, Access Training also offer specialised bathroom fitting courses to provide trainees with everything they'll need to know to perform the job to a professional standard.

To find out more give Access a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

Although we've repeated posted news on the construction industry being on the rise, the forecast of many of its workers leaving in the next 5-10 years is something that we have shown much concern about. Recent research has shown that encouraging more to take up construction training courses and become a labourer has become more crucial than ever, revealing that around 4 in 10 workers are thinking of changing their job in the next year.

This research comes from the group Investors in People, who discovered that the 43% considering a job change were attributing it to factors such as work dissatisfaction and renewed confidence in the wider job market. Construction workers specifically are looking to be valued in their jobs, with 81% citing greater job satisfaction as their main incentive for leaving - considerably ahead of pay which was at 50%.

Valerie Todd, chair of IIP and Director of Talent and Resources at Crossrail, said: that while he end of the recession was good news for construction sectors, an upturn in the economy means that "dissatisfied workers now have more confidence to look elsewhere, so business owners who aren’t doing all they can to value their staff can no longer be complacent."  She went to to say that: “Now is the time for businesses to take action to retain their talented people.”

But again, with potentially 400,000 people estimated to retire in the next few years attempting to "retain their talented people" is only going to get so far. However improving job satisfaction is an integral part of encouraging more people to train in a construction trade such as bricklaying or carpentry, as it will add another appealing element to the career alongside the great pay and more rewarding line of work. 

If you are considering changing careers and would like to find out what construction training can offer you, please give Access Training Academies a call on 0800 345 7492. We'd not only be happy to tell you more, but you can also arrange a tour of our state-of-the-art training centre. Here we offer a wide variety of different construction trades, including carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, tiling and painting and decorating (in addition to plumbing, electric and gas engineering). You'll be able to meet our experienced teaching staff and ask them any questions you might have about either the course of life as a fully qualified tradesman.

You can view the full news story on the Construction Enquirer.

Fire service data indicates that over 20% of domestic fires are caused by electrical faults, with this figure increasing during the festive season.

As the festive season fast approaches, some of you will be planning your part in the annual “Battle of the Illuminations” with your neighbours. This year you will want more lights, bigger, brighter, and more colourful for a more dynamic display that will make people stare in amazement.

All of your socket outlets will be put to use, many with multi-way extension leads attached. Will you be checking to see if your installation can safely cope with the extra load? No! Don’t be daft its Christmas, it will be ok!

Will you check the lights to make sure that they are safe to use?

  • Are they the correct type of lights for use outdoors?
  • Are the flex, plug and leads un-damaged?
  • Are the plugs fitted correctly and do they contain the right fuse (usually 3Amp)?
  • Are all the lamps the correct rating (voltage, wattage)?

Or shall we just trust to luck?

Then on one December evening your home becomes the focus of everyone in the neighbourhood. People from all over, standing wrapped in coats and scarves watching the awesome display that is before their eyes. A myriad of multicolour flashing lights illuminating jets and sprays of water as the local fire service battle to save your home!

One small spark is all it takes to start a devastating fire, do yourself (and your family) a favour this Christmas – check your lights (or get a qualified electrician to check then) before you put them up and use RCD’s to protect each ‘string’. A small price to pay to have a Merry Christmas with your family– in your own home!

Season’s Greetings,

- Mark Jenkins.

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to take the steps to become a professional electrician, our electrical training courses are the fastest and most effective way to build up the skills you need and gain the necessary qualifications for a prosperous career in the industry. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

After many months of the Green Deal with very little success, the Department of Energy & Climate Change have announced that they will begin introducing new measures at the beginning of 2014 to make it more straightforward and less time consuming for both tradespeople and consumers alike.

In the eight months the Government's flagship energy policy has been running, a mere 12 homes have had measures put in place - although it is reported several thousand are waiting for applications to be processed after having home assessments carried out.

The DECC plans to open up access to energy performance certificate (EPC) data so companies can then have better focus on how they market the scheme. It also plans to add more home improvement measures to the list that is covered by the Deal, while allowing more flexibility over the exact specifications companies must install to. A new, improved website will also be set up to increase consumer interest.

Finally there are also plans to work with the Green Deal Finance Company to make it possible for customers to go from a quote to a plan in a single day, removing the need for different people to make separate visits to homes as an application is processed.

The DECC will roll out some of these changes in January, however some require Paraliamentary approval to ammend the legislation and so will be coming in later months.