The amount of news there's been over the past few months concerning the construction industry's boom has been wonderful, and it's great to see that there's still no signs of it slowing down! In fact, leading job recruitment service Reed recently revealed that the number of new jobs in their construction and property section has gone up by an incredible 81% in the last year.

This comes according to the monthly figures for Feb 2014 released by the website, also revealing that this number means three times more vacancies are being posted in this section - totalling in over 10,700 new jobs. Among the most popular are quantity surveyors (1,180 new jobs), site managers (712) and project managers (706).

James Reed, chairman of reed.co.uk, said: "Returning consumer confidence, low interest rates and government-backed initiatives have all helped to invigorate the sector. Related industries, which service and supply Construction are also benefiting. And rising property sales across much of the UK are prompting record job growth in the Estate Agency sector." That said, he also warned of growth being focused on too much of a narrow part of the econmony, cautioning that it could result in a "bursting property bubble".

Still, this fantastic news just proves yet again how much opportunity there is in the construction industry, and why there's no better time than now to take up a career as a bricklayer, carpenter, plasterer or tiler! And the fastest, most effective way to make that goal happen is with an intensive training course from Access Training. At our state-of-the-art training centre, you'll earn the knowledge and skills from experienced teaching staff with a wealth of industry knowledge.

To find out more just give our course advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Chancellor George Osbourne announced the 2014 Budget in Parliament yesterday and among it was some encouraging news for the housing market, with new housing supplies being a central theme.

Prior to the official announcement, the Chancellor had already revealed that the Government's Help to Buy scheme would be extended in 2020. This decision already guaranteed  that housebuilders would be needed to work on additional sites, with a projected 120,000 people estimated to be looking to purchase a home. However with Britain still climbing out of its recession, care has been taken to ensure that the market doesn't bite off more than it can chew. The Bank of England has been commanded to stay wary of house prices, long with further reforms put forward to ensure the building of these new homes goes smoothly.

While the larger house building corporations have the finances to put forward new build projects, the same can't always be said for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Which is why the Government is creating a £500 million Builders Finance Fund, intended to help SMEs that struggle with bank lending. In doing so, it is forecast that 15,000 stalled plots will now go into motion again. In addition to this, there will also be a £150 million fun to kick start regenerating housing estates through repayable loans.

In addition to this, a "Right to Build" scheme has also been proposed, which will give assistance to those wishing to build their own homes by giving them a right to a plot from the local authorities. This scheme is also backed by a £150 million repayable fund to help provide 10,000 serviced plots for custom house builds. Finally the Government continued its committment to 'zero carbon homes' that was previously mentioned last year by planning to have them implemented from 2016. A response to last year's consultation about it is to follow soon.

So with even more confirmation that house building is going to become a big industry in the UK for the next few years, new construction workers are going to be more crucial than ever.If you've ever considered starting a new career as a bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or carpenter, there hasn't been a better time to join this exciting and expanding industry. But first you'll need the skills and qualifications required to become a professional, and that's where Access Training can help. Give us a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about our construction training courses, designed to give you professional level skills in the fraction of time you'd find elsewhere - without any of the quality lost!

So you've done your gas training course, passed your ACS assessments, joined the Gas Safe Register and are now starting life as a self-employed gas engineer. Are you prepared for the day-to-day tasks of managing your own business that weren't covered in the course? Well, the Register is here to help make life a little easier for you. To mark its fifth year as the UK's official gas registration body, it has launched a brand new app for iPhone and Android devices.

Titled the "Gas Engineer Workspace", this app is designed to help self-employed engineers and small businesses manage their everyday workload. The tasks it can perform include;

  • Managing day-to-day jobs with an easy to use calendar that shows when and where jobs are.
  • Logging customer contact details, including addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Setting reminds for scheduled work to help manage time.
  • The ability to contact customers directly from the app, along with being able to send them a reminder for any upcoming jobs.

While on the surface this might not sound like a lot, it certainly straightens out the mangerial side of running your own business and seems to be something many gas engineers have been after for a while. The Gas Safe Register's chief executive Russel Kramer has also stated that more functions are planned to be added to the app over the next few months, including a range of calculation tools for pipe sizing and venting calculation.

The app is now available for free on both the App store and Google Play, and can be found by searching "gas engineer workspace". Once the app is downloaded, users will be invited to login with their Gas Safe Register user ID/license card and password. 

Every so often its good for this blog to break away for the wealth of industry news going on in the world, and there's never a better reason for it than to share our own students' success stories. Today we've got some REALLY good news to share, as we congratulate last month's electrician students on completing their 2395 Electrical Inspection and Testing courses with a 100% pass rate!

The City & Guilds 2395 Periodic Inspection & Testing is renowned for being a notoriously difficult qualification to achieve. It is aimed at experienced electricians (and thus there are specific criteria candidates need to meet before they can even attempt the exam) who wish to gain further knowledge in the inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations. The assessment itself consists of the following three parts;

  • A multi-choice online exam
  • A closed book written exam
  • A practical exam

Upon successful completion, candidates will be able to complete the Electrical Condition Installation Report. However the difficulty of the course is reflected in the pass rate, with the last Chief Examiner's Report (dated December 2013) showing a national pass rate of 47%. Nevertheless, Access Training has remained confident in its ability to deliver the test, promising candidates that against the odds they too will be able to gain this highly sought after qualification. And our results for February prove that we weren't wrong.

100% of our entrants passed the exam last month, and our sister centre The Plumbing Academy wasn't far behind with four out of five of their candidates also achieving this prestigious qualification. Very few, if any, centres have achieved such pass rates in the past, collectively making Access Training Academies among the top training centres in the country for this qualification. But this isn't our success - a huge congratulations to all our successful students and all the best with your new qualification and career prospects.

Centre manager Tony Maus said, "When you compare the national pass rate with our own in both centres the results just speak for themselves. This is fantastic news and well done to all our successful candidates. They've earned it."

If you're an experienced electrician looking to further their career and skillset, have you thought about giving the 2395 qualification a go yourself? At Access we are determined to maintain this excellent pass rate well into the future and look forward to you being a part of it, so give us a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more.

Trainee and existing tradespeople alike will know there's a lot to remember when it comes to current building regulations. Whether it's having to remember Part P when performing electrical installations or keeping energy efficiency in mind because of Part L, it's a lot to take in. However tradespeople's lives are about to get that little bit easier when it comes to house building, as Communities minister Stephen Williams announced that the current housing regulations were "complicated and confusing" and "ripe for reform".

The proposed changes are a very large scale, reducing the current 100 standards down to a mere 10, with the number of remaining pages of guidance from 1,000 down to less than a hundred. Among the abolished standards are requirements for rainwater harvesting in places that don't suffer from water shortages, requirements for more than one phone line to be installed and requirements for compost bins and secure sheds in gardens.

Another important change is that this new system technical requirements will be solely assessed by building control bodies. Currently work needs to be check by multiple organisations such as the planning authority, a Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor, Homes & Communities Agency as well as the aforementioned building control organisation and various other independent assessors.

Other changes being made to the regulations include:

  • Optional regulations such as water efficiency and wheelchair access that is up to councils whether to apply or not.
  • A single national space standard.
  • A new standard for security in new homes.
  • New energy standards which allow councils to impose locally-set targets for energy efficiency and renewables.

More detailed information is still yet to be revealed, however the news seems to have been received positively by housebuilders across the UK. Head of Residential at construction consultant EC Harris Mark Farmer said that they are "a further step toward improving housing standards and supporting house builders to reduce the national housing shortfall".

We'll provide more detailed news on these changes as they come, but for now it certainly seems like tradespeople will have a little less red tape to deal with when it comes to new house building. If you'd like to join the construction boom and become a professional tradesperson, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about our trades training courses.

Via Construction Enquirer

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.

NICEIC and ELECSA have expressed their concern towards parliamentary recommendations to alter the current-standing electricians' Compentent Persons Scheme system, which if granted would require all domestic electricians to have a qualifications equivalent to an NVQ level 3 within the next five years.

The current system requires simply one person at a firm to be at a Qualified Supervisor level (equivalent to that of an NVQ 3), who is responsible for the final checking of work and signing off that it has been completed in accordance with standards and regulations. However what is now being proposed is that all electricians, from firm employees to self-employed ones, should have this level of qualification. 

This, among other suggestions, have come following a report from the Communities and Local Government Committee stemming from a number of health and safety incidents from the last few years. Among these was the Emma Shaw incident from 2007, where the 22-year-old mother was electrocuted whilst mopping up water from a faulty boiler.

CEO of Certsure (operator of both NICEIC and ELECSA) Emma Shaw spoke out, saying that these measures would place "a huge onus on firms" regardless of size. It is feared costs will be pushed up as apprentices are slowly phased out, causing the electrical industry to suffer in the long term. Clancy also stated;

"The QS system, which Part P is based on, is proven to work and as the committee states in its report has actually pushed domestic electrical installation standards up in recent years."

Certsure stresses that the view that firms are sending out unqualified electricians is unfounded, with electrician firms fully aware of their responsibility and 80% of domestic work carried out by Part P qualified electricians. The question is though - is 80% enough?

However the two groups have welcomed other recommendations made by the report, which include:

  • Calls for an annual limit on the number of jobs that a single QS can review
  • Action from the government to raise public awareness of Part P – similar to that of Gas Safe
  • Proactive enforcement against those who breach Part P and those who work outside of competent person schemes
  • A single register for all Part P electricians covering all schemes

Meanwhile the Committee themselves are fully backing their proposals, with Clive Betts MP arguing that the current system "can brand the incompetent as competent" as homeowners have no guarantee that the electricians turning up at their doors are fully qualified. The commitee also calls into question whether a limited amount of supervisors are "adequately able to check work with such large caseloads".

He concludes; "Under the changes we propose people would know that the electrician working in their home is qualified. If, as scheme operators told us, standards of electricians are already high, then the added criteria will not be too onerous.  

"During the five year transition there should be an annual limit — agreed by the industry — on the maximum number of transactions that a single qualified supervisor can review. This will increase the chance that in the interim unqualified electricians will at least be having their work properly checked by a qualified supervisor."

Read more:

Installer Online

Electrical Contracting News

The apparent skills shortage and lack of young people joining the construction sector continues to be a burning issue for the industry, training centres, colleges and awarding bodies alike. Construction productivity has been steadily growing over the past few months and is expected to continue in the next few years, however a significant portion of the existing workforce is set to retire and meanwhile schools seem to be actively discouraging leaving students to take up vocational careers in the industry. These things mixed together sound like a recipe for disaster, so it's no wonder that the CITB have referred to the incoming scenario as a "ticking time bomb". Something needs to be done, and the first port of call is better promotion of apprenticeships and an eventual career in the construction industry to young adults - namely 16-25 year olds. And the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Construction Training Industry Board (CITB) and City & Guilds have all been doing research into how this can be achieved.

To begin, the CIOB and CITB joined forces last month to help produce a cross-party parliamentary enquiry entitled "No more lost generations: Creating construction jobs for young people". The cover of the 23-page report sums up the problem succinctly - Britain has one million NEETs (Not in education, employment or training) aged 16-24, and there are at least 182,000 construction jobs to be filled by 2018. However only 7,280 completed a construction apprenticeship last year - prompting the bodies' to firmly say "We have to do better."

Amongst the full report, which highlights the difficult economic recession the construction industry went through and how its recovery is progressing, a number of different strategies are suggested to solve this very real problem. These include:

  • Improving understanding in schools of the wide variety of careers the construction industry offers. This includes traditional crafts, management and even computer-based modelling.
  • Making it easier for young people to find an appropriate entry route into the industry - whether it be through apprenticeships or qualifications.
  • Ensuring training programmes are better linked to the nature of jobs likely to be available
  • Using the levers available through public-sector procurement and the planning system to require realistic and effective training and employment commitments from employers.
  • Securing greater commitment and buy-in from industry leaders.

The report also put forward a selection of proposed actions to help bring about these improvements, including a training summit between the CITB and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with backing from the Construction Leadership Council. Additional measures suggested included a revitalised apprenticeship strategy, local authorities to leverage planning obligations, more leadership from social landlords and public bodies and finally a step change in the careers advice young people receive.

Meanwhile City & Guilds own research, titled "Building Futures on Shifting Foundations", looked at what skills, education and training was currently required by the construction industry. It took a sample of 344 respondents - made up of 168 senior managers from construction businesses and 176 education providers who deliver qualifications needed to break into the industry. The research was done in relation to Construction 2025, a joint strategy between the Government and Industry that sets out how Britain could be at the forefront of global construction in the future. 

The survey identified that employers do indeed recognise a skills gap when it comes to driving the construction industry forward, with the main skills they felt lacking being:

  • Trade skills - 42% recognising a gap
  • Maths and English - 39% recognising a gap
  • Problem solving - 35% recognising a gap
  • Technical skills - 31% recognising  a gap

Most importantly though the survey revealed although apprenticeships may be the key to fixing the industry's problems, employers aren't utilising this vital role. The survey found:

  • 42% of businesses said that they currently employ no apprentices
  • 40% said apprentices made up less than 1% of their workforce
  • Just over half (56%) said they don't plan to take on any apprentices in the next year
Problems cited by these employers included "funding issues" and "uncertainty around my firm's workload", however a significant proportion (70%) recognised the financial support they could receive by taking on an apprentice. They also questioned respondents on the Richard Review - an independent report issued to review the current apprenticeship system and identify how it can changed to meet the needs of the future economy. While half (49%) admitted that they had not heard of the report before, upon learning more about it 56% agreed it is important for the future of the construction industry. 

For more in-depth detail, read the full reports here:

CIOB/CITB: No More Lost Generations: Creating construction jobs for
young people (PDF)

City & Guilds: Building Futures on Shifting Foundations (PDF)

 

The outlook is currently very bright for the construction industry, however in order for things to work out successfully the path it must take is clear. Official bodies of all different origin agree that young people taking up a career in construction in the key to plugging this skills shortage and ensuring that the construction "boom" really is a boom. Careers in bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, tiling and painting/decorating are not the stereotypical jobs many media outlets portray them to be. As well as the crucial element of skill and technique required by them, these active careers are varied and exciting - with workers citing them as among the happiest of careers as well as enjoying an impressive salary. If academic education doesn't appeal to you or you want to enter a line of work where this is actually a place for you, then a construction career may be just what you're looking for and Access Training is right here to help. We offer intensive training courses in all construction trades, making us one of the most varied training centres in the UK. At our state-of-the-art training centre just on the outskirts of Cardiff city centre you'll be able to learn the vital skills from experienced professionals, earning the necessary qualifications in a fraction of the time you would with a college course - without skimping on any of the quality!

To find out more about what we can offer you here at Access to kickstart your new career in the fastest and most effective way possible, give our advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

After a pretty abysmal first year, it's no surprise that the Green Deal - the UK Government's flagship energy saving programme, is going to be going through some much needed changes. After all, you know its bad when even Energy Secretary Ed Davey - one of the men behind the scheme, calls it "clunky", "complex" and "disappointing".

Speaking at the Ecobuild convention that's taken place in London's Excel centre over the last few days, Mr Davey launched a consultation on the changes that will be made to Green Deal sister scheme ECO (Energy Companies Obligation), while at the same time reaffirming that the DECC were about to make some vital changes to the overall programme.

He said that the Government had been looking to "streamline" the Green Deal from very early on, and that the fact changes need to be made after only one year shouldn't be that surprising given "the scale of the ambition". He also added that further incentives for people to sign up would be unveiled in the coming weeks.

The latest figures from January did report that the scheme was beginning to make a comeback, with 1,277 plans in place by the end of the month - 746 of which were completed. However Mr Davey stressed that selling finance plans was not the main aim of the scheme:

"The fact that most people currently having a Green Deal assessment are not then going on to choose Green Deal finance plans shouldn’t actually worry us.

"How people pay for energy efficiency improvements is not after all the main issue. The aim of the Green Deal isn’t to sell credit plans, but to make our homes warmer, cheaper and greener."

It's great to see that the DECC are pushing these Green Deal changes, but is there really that much new info since the last time Ed Davey announced what they would be doing. Hopefully this will be a move that brings the Green Deal into the spotlight, rather than empty promises made during a sudden rise that may not amount to anything. Only time will tell...

Via Building.co.uk

Dangerous gas appliances

The Gas Safe Register, the UK's gas safety authority which all gas installers are legally required to join upon completion of their ACS assesments, is urging members of the public to get the safety of their gas appliances checked after their latest research revealed that 9 out of 10 Britons could not identify gas appliances that were deadly or potentially life-threatening.

1,200 consumers were shown 10 images of gas appliances, eight of which were dangerous and only two of which were completely safe to use. The results were particularly startling, with nearly everyone (95% to be precise) thinking at least one of the deadly appliances were safe. 6% of them even thought that all eight of them were safe! Only one person of the entire 1,200 was able to correctly identify all 10 - and that is definitely cause for concern.

Six of these eight dangerous gas appliances could have resulted in a gas leak, fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning, but were thankfully from homes checked before anyone got hurt. The other two appliances shown, however, were ones that had only been discovered after the damage had been done - one tragically killing the homeowner and the other hospitalising a family. In the case of the appliance that resulted in a fatality, half of respondents thought it looked safe when shown the photograph.

Stakeholder manager for Gas Safe Sarah Hill had this to say about the findings:

"Our research backs up what we, as the UK gas authority, already know - people cannot spot a deadly gas appliance as often there are no obvious signs. That’s why it’s vital to get your gas appliances safety checked regularly by a registered engineer, who has the skills and the know-how to spot the dangers. Sadly, we also know that the consequences if you don’t can be serious, especially when CO is involved as you can’t see it, taste it or smell it."

Would you be able to spot an unsafe gas appliance? If you think you could just look at the pictures and spot it, have you considered a career as a gas installer? Gas can be an extremely useful source of energy when installed properly but if anything goes wrong the results can prove fatal. Installers are required to have passed their ACS assessments and join the Gas Safe Register before they are legally allowed to start work, and here at Access Training we can provide you with all the training needed to work safely with gas appliances.

To find out more about our professional gas courses, please contact us on 0800 345 7492.

The average builder's salary

Ever wondered what is the average builder's salary? What about the average builder's packed lunch, favourite sports team and radio station choice? Well, a bizarre study from door manufacturer Origin has given us the answers we crave, looking at 500 different builders across the UK and profiling their daily lives. The results are in, and below is an in-depth profile of Britain's average builder, covering everything from salary to biscuits:

  • The average builder's salary is around £26,000 a year.
  • The most common name for builders is Paul, with Andy or Dave not far behind.
  • Most likely to have been married for 10 years.
  • Drives around 13,624 miles a year, and would describe themselves as "courteous" on the road.
  • Wakes up by 6.24am, and out of the door ready for work by 7.20am. Meanwhile they clock off at about 5.30pm, ready to put their feet up by 7.15pm.
  • Listens to BBC Radio 2 through the day.
  • Has at least four projects on the go at any time and consumes six hot drinks a day - usually tea with one sugar.
  • A chocolate digestive is their biscuit of choice.
  • For lunch, sandwiches are still on top, with the likely fillers being chicken & bacon or cheese & pickle. Health is obviously a concern, with builders twice as likely to tuck into a salad or pasta than burger and chips.
  • Not a fan of the British weather, with 30% citing it as the most stressful aspect of working life. Unreliable staff and customers each got 19% of the stress vote.
  • Builders commonly support Manchester United.
  • And finally, despite the stereotype, most builders disapprove of "wolf-whistling" at passers-by, with only a fifth of respondents considering it acceptable behaviour.

Sound a bit like you? Or maybe you're in the market for the career and like the sound of this (especially the average builder's salary - £26,000 is nothing to sneeze at!) In that case, a career in the construction industry might just be the perfect path for you, and here at Access Training we can help you take those all important first steps.

Whichever trade you'd like to specialise in - bricklaying, plastering, carpentry, tiling, roofing or painting/decorating, we have the ideal training course which will help you gather all the skills you need as well as gain the necessary qualifications to turn professional.

If you're still not convinced, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and talk to one of our course advisers. They'll be happy to answer any questions you might have, and from there you'll be able to arrange a visit of our state-of-the-art UK training centres.

A career in the construction industry is often considered one the happiest, most fulfilling and well-rewarded professions. Here's your chance to find out why.

News via HVP Magazine