City & Guilds and EAL logos

NVQ Level 2 (called an SVQ 2 in Scotland) is the qualification every plumber ultimately needs. Because it is assessed in the workplace and not in the classroom, it proves your competence and is based on your practical skills.

In order to gain this qualification, you will first need to achieve the Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing, as some fundamental practical skills and a basic prior knowledge of plumbing systems are required. Completing the Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing demonstrates that you have learned and retained the core skills required to become a plumber (you will receive a certificate as proof of this).

You will then need to go out into the workplace, where you will be assessed on various jobs that meet the specific criteria needed to gain your NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing.

So there are two qualifications you'll need to become a plumber...

 

Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing

  • Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing Studies (City & Guilds 6035-02)

Level 2 will equip you with the relevant plumbing and heating knowledge and skills. Once you've got this qualification under your belt, you can carry out plumbing tasks - but you may have to be supervised depending on the task.

 

NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing

There are two choices for your NVQ:

  • NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing and Heating
  • NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Installing and Maintaining Domestic Heating Systems

Both of these options comprise mandatory units, including:

  • Understand and carry out safe working practices in building services engineering
  • Understand and apply domestic hot water system installation and maintenance
  • Understand and apply domestic above-ground drainage system installation and maintenance techniques
  • Install and maintain domestic heating systems

 

Are City & Guilds plumbing qualifications the best ones to have?

1878: City of London Corporation and 16 livery companies - the trade guilds - established The City and Guilds of London Institute to develop a national system of technical education. They were granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in 1900.

City & Guilds plumbing qualifications have always been the traditional route for plumbers to become qualified, and to this day, they are still recognised internationally. NVQ qualifications were introduced after this, so the qualifications that plumbers attain nowadays are NVQs - which can be provided by awarding organisations other than City & Guilds (such as EAL, who offer plumbing courses at the same level).

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These courses come under the title of BSE (Business Services Engineering) and therefore include an understanding and application of:

  • Safe working practices
  • Communicating with others
  • Environmental protection measures
  • Scientific principles
  • Site preparation and pipework fabrication techniques
  • Cold and hot domestic water system installation and maintenance techniques
  • Central heating system installation and maintenance techniques

The assessments for NVQ Level 2 form part of the programme, along with practical and theory exams. These take place in a training centre as part of the plumbing course.

You will also have to submit a portfolio of work and pass performance assessments in your workplace to demonstrate your skills.

Call 0800 345 7492 and talk to us today to find out more about our plumbing courses.

Recommended Course: Professional Plumbing Course

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

"Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." - Marilyn Monroe

Restart your career

If you're one of the thousands who have been furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what should you do next? And could you turn your furlough experience into a career opportunity?

If you are in this situation, what options do you have? Do you persevere and hope things will eventually return to normal...or do you know, deep down, that this may not happen? Should you look for a new job now, or think big and chase your long-held aspiration to start something new?

As it stands, thousands of people in the UK are already finding themselves out of work. Others are being protected from this fate - for now - by the government's furlough scheme, putting them in a state of employment. But with the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme ending soon, the threat of redundancy is looming ever closer for furloughed employees.

Furlough figures - September 2020

What should you do if you're one of the people affected by this situation? You may be feeling very stressed right now, but the end of furlough could also be your opportunity to begin something new - something far more rewarding than the 'normal' that you knew before.

The furlough scheme is due to end on 31 October, so there's no time to waste. Here are 5 steps that you should consider:

 

1. Contact your employer if you haven't already done so.

Don't be afraid - even if you've barely spoken to your employer while you haven't been working, you can still get in touch now to request some details about your situation and the company itself. You may even wish to ask how the economic forecast is shaping up; does it look like the business will still be able to employ you after October, once the furlough safety net has been taken away?

 

2. Take some time to reflect.

Really focus on what you desire from your life. Think about your career and your professional needs: what do you want to do now, and which direction do want to go in?

 

3. Consider whether you really want to return to your old job.

Ask yourself simple, direct questions: 'Am I happy to return to this job if it's still there? Is this genuinely the career I want, the work I find most fulfilling? Can I see a long-term future for this industry and my place in it?'

 

4. Plan your next steps.

If redundancy is inevitable - or if you've decided that, regardless of whether your position remains secure, you don't want to go back to the old normal - then it's time to think about what you want to do next. Do you take this opportunity to retrain and learn some new skills? Identify what knowledge and qualifications you'll need to make your dream career a reality, then find out how best to reach the required level.

 

5. Look for a clear, realistic career path.

Above all, look for the path that will lead to real opportunities in an area that's sustainable and growing. Whether you're looking to reboot or switch careers entirely, now is a great time to dream big and start building a new picture of your future career.

 

Sometimes, the most important decisions are the ones made for us. As daunting and unprecedented as the current crisis is, it could be your springboard to improved career prospects, especially if you have a long-term goal or ambition that didn't seem realistic before.

Inevitably, emotion will be a factor when you're asking yourself the big questions. It's impossible to provide a detached, purely rational answer to questions like 'If my profession ceased to exist, what career would I want to pursue instead?' or 'How can I reinvent myself?' If you've always thought about re-skilling (or up-skilling) but didn't have the inclination or the need a year ago, now may be the perfect time to take that leap, but use your head to think clearly - don't be swayed entirely by your emotions.

Ultimately, life is never without its difficulties, and there are bound to be setbacks along the way. We can't plan for every single occurrence, but what matters is how you bounce back and move forward. There's always light at the end of the tunnel, and this crisis won't last forever.

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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further education

At the Annual Conservative Party Conference, held in September 2019, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson addressed ‘the forgotten fifty per cent’: the portion of the UK’s population which is ‘often overlooked’ when it comes to educational avenues and investment. He stressed the importance of ‘vocational education’ by arguing that it is ‘just as valuable as University education’, and indeed ‘just as important to our economy’; in short, he said that a large portion of the population had been ‘forgotten’ and ‘ignored’ by our education system.

 

Fast forward to his statement in July 2020, and these words have acquired an urgency which resonates with us now more than ever. ‘The tragedy is that for decades we have forgotten about half of our education system’, he writes, while making ‘a commitment to stand for the forgotten 50%’. It is a commitment on which the future of our economy and construction industries depends.

 

Some context: way back in 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair made it his government’s priority to ensure that 50% of the population attended university, a target which was reached in 2017-18, where 50.2% of students went on to study at university. As ambitious and well-meaning as Blair’s target seemed back in 1999, it certainly bodes the question: what about the other 50%?

 

How we're helping the forgotten 50%

Of course, Access Training has been asking the same questions for years: what about the 50% who don’t consider going to university to be a viable or favourable option? What about those who are perfectly cut out for a career in the trades industry, who need the services we provide to prepare them for the future? What about those highly practical and skilled individuals who are now so crucial to propping up our economy?

 

These are the people that Access Training caters for, and Mr Williamson’s long-overdue call for more investment in training programmes proves that our finger has been on the pulse since the very beginning.

 

But most importantly, we must ask whether university degrees actually deliver the benefits we are told they do? Not so, according to Mr Williamson, who notes the fact that ‘five years after completion, the average Higher Technical Apprentice earns more than the average graduate’. This statistic is earth-shattering to the notion that a university education provides a more dependable route to a lucrative career – and so why have we been peddling it for decades?

 

The truth is, the overwhelming focus of the Department of Education in recent decades has been on reaching pointless statistical landmarks without questioning their value, and as a result, half of the country’s student population has been left out of the equation. No equivalent investment has been made in the futures of the forgotten 50% – despite the fact that apprenticeships and vocational tradespeople often earn more than their graduate counterparts, there is still a massive skills shortage in the construction industry: as of October 2019, 40% of construction trades experienced their highest skills shortages since 2013. Our job is to fill that gap – by treating the trades as a secondary or lower form of education, it’s looking like a steep hill to climb.

 

So after two decades, the forgotten 50% are back in the limelight. But despite Mr Williamson’s commendable emphasis on the ‘need for upskilling, reskilling and retraining’, he fails to draw his attention to the current work of Independent Training Providers who have been supplying these crucial services for years already. It is what the country needs, and it is our ticket to salvaging our economy and future job markets. In short, it’s what we need to ‘get Britain working again'.

 

Since the onset of the pandemic, Access Training has transformed its technical and vocational training into an online portal, available to everyone, anywhere, for however long they need it. It is precisely this ability to provide what Mr Williamson calls ‘flexible, practical training’ which makes our educational model so effective and popular with our students, and perfectly matches Mr Williamson’s vision for the future – right now in the present.

 

The future of reskilling and retraining is already here – enquire today about a course with Access Training.

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University lecture theatre

Stability and confidence are key in the academic world. But these things are virtually impossible to guarantee during a pandemic, and it's clear that UK universities will need considerable time to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. How can you expect to thrive in your educational journey without the assurance of your tutors? Without interacting with your peers? Without a clear sense of direction?

The truth is that the future of universities and higher academic culture remains very, very unclear. Once the coronavirus is firmly under control, will we see a return to normality? Will campus-based university education continue to be the mainstream educational model? Or will universities recognise the far-reaching benefits of home learning and restructure their courses to include face-to-face elements only where necessary?

Our money is on the latter.

 

The problem facing universities

You don't have to look too hard to notice the long-term uncertainty that's looming over the university establishment. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Universities UK lobbied the UK government for 'a transformation fund to support universities' during the next 2 to 3 years. Quite clearly, the higher education sector in this country is due to undergo a massive infrastructural transformation that's likely to last at least the length of a degree itself.

The unavoidable consequence of this is an inevitable crushing impact on the educational experiences of the next generation's students. The Times also offers some highly concerning statistics, noting that (according to data from CV-Library) graduate job openings are already down 60% on last year, and even non-graduate job opportunities have 'plummeted'. Why go to university if you can't be reasonably sure of getting a job at the end of it?

The Resolution Foundation think tank also reminds us that 800,000 young people have left full-time education since the onset of the pandemic. What lies in store for their futures? How are they supposed to navigate a crumbling job market and a recession when the usual order of things has been turned on its head?

As if this all weren't bad enough, the Financial Times has questioned whether universities will be able to support themselves financially, predicting 'extreme pressure on universities' and 'significant restructuring' to come. This is due in part to the 'sharp decline of international students' and school leavers hesitating in the face of the 'uncertain value of the education they may receive'.

Troubling? Certainly. But is this the case for all educational institutions? Absolutely not.

 

How we've overcome this challenge

Fortunately, Access Training has already adapted to the problems posed by COVID-19. We now offer hybrid-style courses that integrate online teaching with essential practical training.

By having the foresight to make a swift departure from the traditional methods of teaching upheld by universities and colleges, we have already ensured that working systems are in place to offer an overwhelmingly positive learning experience - just read our reviews!

The FT also offers the following astute prediction:

"The aftermath of coronavirus will both accelerate existing trends and provide an opportunity to rethink the nature of education and the ways it is delivered to make it more accessible, affordable, and relevant for the challenges of the coming decades."

At Access Training, we firmly believe that the educational path we offer is a nod to this new future of learning. We have taken the opportunity to refocus our educational model to ensure massive advantages to our student audience, and we've found the winning formula - we now reach many more students than before, we're using the most direct and efficient teaching methods around, and satisfaction levels are skyrocketing.

A course of us will guarantee you stability in a time of uncertainty, and opportunities in a world of dead ends. So why go to university? Enquire for a course today.

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An alternative path

Wondering what alternatives to university there are? You're not alone! The past year has been full of chaos and upheaval for young people in the UK. Exams have been disrupted and results have been downgraded, so it's no surprise that thousands of GCSE and A-Level students across the country are now scrambling around for other ways to make the transition from school to further education. That's where we come in. So, if you're wondering what to do instead of university, just keep reading!

 

COVID-19 has caused huge problems for schools and universities

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive ruptures all around the world, turning our daily lives upside down. Universities and schools cannot operate in the traditional way, and face-to-face contact between teachers and students is, for the foreseeable future, a thing of the past. It's no surprise that young people are seeking out alternatives to university.

To make matters worse, the large-scale downgrading of results means that many students have missed out on university and college places. Some of these young people have responded by reluctantly accepting places on courses that aren't quite right for them - it's not ideal, but it has become the painful reality for a whole generation of ambitious, hard-working youngsters. But is there a better alternative to a degree?

 

What could you do instead of university?

Access Training offers the kind of education that will prove invaluable in this time of crisis when skills and experience are valued above all else. Even during the oncoming recession, British people will still need the skills and expertise of labourers and tradespeople.

The Federation for Industry Sector Skills and Standards have appealed to the government to ensure that training facilities for young tradespeople are protected during the pandemic. The Chief Executive of the Federation, Mark Lambert, stresses the crucial importance of a high-skilled young labour workforce to deal with the oncoming recession and says:

"Unless we act fast...we will be failing thousands of people whose talents will be needed to reskill the workforce and repair the UK economy once this crisis is over."

Not only is the trades industry strong and in high enough demand to survive the latest upheaval, but according to Lambert, it's exactly what we need to save the country from economic downfall. So what better way to secure the future of young people than by gifting them with permanently valuable skills?

 

How we've responded to the COVID-19 pandemic

Access Training's teaching model has adapted to this year of upheaval with great success. Not only have we ensured the continuation of high teaching standards and outcomes - you can check our reviews and pass rates for proof - but we've actually improved upon our pre-coronavirus records. By moving the majority of our training online, we have made sure that each individual student receives all of our attention and expertise at a time that is convenient for them. And they have been reaping the rewards!

So ask yourself this serious question: why bother spending thousands on an insubstantial and perhaps inefficiently-taught university degree when you could use this time of great uncertainty to develop vocation skills that are - and always will be - essential to the country's economy? Why wait another debt-ridden three years when you can begin working and earning as a qualified professional within months?

Get in touch with Access Training to find out more about our trade training courses - we'll take it from there.

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"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - President John F. Kennedy, 1963

Time for change

How do you start a new life in the middle of a global crisis? 2020 has been a life-changing year for almost all of us, but the economic turmoil and uncertainty have made things particularly difficult for those who were in the process of switching careers when the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

But perhaps this experience has given those individuals a head start. Whether or not your circumstances shielded you from the initial shock of COVID-19, we're all going to have to embrace change over the next couple of years.

On the 10th of August, the Financial Times reported that even established businesses - especially those in the retail, hospitality and travel sectors - were facing unprecedented challenges:

"According to the Enterprise Research Centre, a group of several leading universities, 21,000 more UK businesses collapsed in March than in the same month of 2019. The number of new companies also dropped dramatically, by 23 per cent."

Conversely, many entrepreneurs and their businesses are now thriving, most notably in construction and the trades. People in these sectors have been forced to learn new skills in order to overcome the setbacks that COVID-19 has thrown at them, and those new skills have opened up new opportunities.

In a survey of tradespeople and homeowners that was carried out by national builder's merchant Jewson across June and July, 73 per cent of tradespeople said that they were "optimistic" about the amount of work that will be coming their way over the next six months. The survey also highlighted the fact that 77 per cent of homeowners are planning to carry out work in their homes within the next six to twelve months.

Andrew Cushing, Jewson's Customer Director, said:

"We're delighted that the outlook is positive for the trade. Long may that continue, and we look forward to helping our customers grow their businesses."

So is this a good time to change careers after all? In the Financial Times article, a venture capitalist (an investor who provides funding to companies with high growth potential) said during an interview with journalist Janina Conboye that uncertainty can actually bring its own opportunities:

"If a change or a new beginning feels [...] right for you, I would say that being open to - or rather maybe willing to accept - all the unexpected opportunities is what will give you the strength to deal with the down moments of your choice or change, and ride the highs."

This might resonate with you if you're thinking about a career change but feel that it's not feasible right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe you've been reading all the headlines about the current uncertainty, and even though you're craving change, your fear is telling you to err on the side of caution until things get back to normal.

Changing your career certainly isn't a decision to be made lightly - that's true even during periods of stability. There are many factors you must consider, including your personal commitments and your own individual circumstances. But remember: while most decisions can be reversed, regret can last a lifetime.

With so much upheaval going on at the moment, it may be helpful to think about what your answer would be if, at some point in the future, you were asked this question:

What changes did you make during COVID-19?

Will you have a good answer? Will you be able to say that you followed your aspirations and achieved your goals?

When considering a career change, months or even years ago you might have said 'soon'. Last month, you might have said 'later'. And yesterday, you could have said 'tomorrow'. Is now your time to change? Only you can decide - it really is up to you whether you make that change or not.

As the proverb says, opportunity never knocks twice at any man's door. Whether you agree with this sentiment or not, remember: changing careers is your choice. Don't waste another day, week or month - we are here to help you get there. Talk to us today!

Browse Our Trade Courses   Contact Access Training

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

"Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn." - Winston Churchill

Live Online Learning

Access Training Online is our bespoke online training platform. Launched in April 2020 - during the coronavirus lockdown - it was created specifically for students who needed a practical, flexible, engaging and effective way to learn. Our online courses focus specifically on the vital theory skills that you must learn in order to pass your exams and progress to hands-on trade training.

Demand for e-learning skyrocketed during lockdown, and since then, the exam pass rate of those attending Access Training's Live Online Learning sessions has sharply increased to 90% - significantly higher than before the lockdown.

 

So what exactly is 'Live Online Learning'?

We have created live online sessions that concentrate on specific theory knowledge for your chosen trade, meaning that the time you spend in our training and assessment centre is focused on all the important practical elements of the training. This has already proven to be a winning formula.

These online learning sessions are never pre-recorded. Just like in the classroom, there's a tutor delivering the teaching to a group of learners. During these sessions, you can interact, ask questions and give feedback - all without leaving your home. Alternatively, you can learn from your workplace, a café, or even the beach - anywhere with an Internet connection! You can even access our e-learning content via a mobile device.

Once enrolled, you'll be able to join in with live lectures, be part of the class from the comfort of wherever you choose, and repeat the lessons as many times as you want.

Browse our trade training courses

 

Will I have the same interactive learning experience I'd get in a classroom?

During Live Online Learning, the tutor guides you through the course material, encouraging you to take part and learn with other students in exactly the same way as you would in a classroom. Additionally, everyone receives individual attention when they need it through the subsequent Q&A sessions.

Each webinar focuses on one specific topic and aims to give you the knowledge you'll need to succeed when you take your exams. This helps to ensure that you will be fully prepared to pass and progress smoothly onto practical training. After all, you wouldn't learn to drive a car without passing your theory first - how would you know what you were doing?

Live Online Learning combines the traditional classroom lesson structure with the flexibility of studying from home. Join timetabled live lectures online, and talk to tutors during the webinars for live feedback. All our lectures are recorded, so if you miss one, you can catch up; you can also re-watch previous classes for extra revision.

 

What are the advantages of Live Online Learning when learning a trade?

Live Online Learning suits people who want the benefits of being in class (like live tutor support and a structured approach) but wish to reduce unnecessary time spent travelling to and from the training centre when all you'd be doing is sitting in a classroom. This approach leaves more room for your other commitments, such as work and family.

There are so many advantages to learning through our online portal, including:

  • Scheduled classes that give students the benefit of a traditional classroom setting
  • Interactive classes that allow you to ask questions and make comments, just like in a classroom
  • Online learning materials that give you everything you need to study before your practical training starts
  • A discussion forum where you can keep in touch with tutors and fellow students during the course
  • Extra online content for revision outside of the webinars
  • Dedicated tutor support - get in touch with our expert tutors through LiveChat and request a callback if necessary

Tony Maus, Director of Training at Access Training Academies, said:

"Online learning has rapidly proved its value during the COVID-19 pandemic by being both efficient and engaging. It also offers unrivalled flexibility, giving our learners the ability to select when they learn and to do it at a pace that suits them. This has resulted in an incredibly high pass rate for exams.

"We have received so much positive feedback from our students, who love the freedom of logging into the platform and attending the live online learning from any location. The platform will also benefit them in the long term, as they can keep using the facility for up to 3 years after enrolling on their course. This will enable us to interact and continually develop all of our students, past and present."

Contact Access Training to find out more

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

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This week, Robert Jenrick MP - the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government - announced planning reforms in a bid to get the UK building trade back on its feet.

Dubbed 'Rob the Builder', Jenrick promised to rip up red tape in order to help smaller construction firms and kickstart the British economy.

The government is planning to construct 300,000 new properties each year, and Jenrick wants a "substantial" portion of those buildings to be constructed by small and medium-sized businesses.

He said:

"We'll cut red tape, but not standards - placing a higher regard on quality, design and the environment than ever before.

"Planning decisions will be simple and transparent, with local democracy at the heart of the process. Today's reforms are going to give our brickies, builders and labourers the boost they need to get back to the business of building homes.

"Thousands of self-employed workers will be able to don their hard hats and help the country recover from the impact of coronavirus."

Many construction workers and other tradespeople have been outspoken in their appreciation of the news, welcoming moves to speed up the planning process.

One company spokesperson said: "Many building workers are paid weekly, so it's a quickfire way to put cash back into the economy."

With the UK building trade at the forefront of government plans for the nation's economic recovery, there has never been a better time to learn a trade and join the construction industry. Call Access Training on 0800 345 7492 to speak with a course advisor today.

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"As I look back on my life, I realise that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better" - Vala Afshar, July 2020

Smiling face

Has COVID-19 given us a new perspective on the value of work?

The global pandemic has had a huge impact on our working lives. It has forced many of us to consider just how much we value our work and how much we enjoy our current jobs - if we enjoy them at all!

The boundaries between work life and home life have been blurred by the lockdown, and it can be difficult to strike the correct balance. Most types of work, while important, are not as important as feeling the fulfilment of one's family, hobbies and the home itself. This leads to one question:

Do you really enjoy your work?

Many supposedly 'low-skilled' jobs have recently gained an air of heightened importance - perhaps even prestige. At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, the UK government recognised cleaners, delivery drivers, retail staff and so on as 'Key Workers' and acknowledged that the country would grind to a halt without their continued efforts.

This 'Key Worker' label means a great deal to many and has generated some well-earned respect for professionals whom we too often forget. But being 'key' does not always mean making a good salary, even though many of these people have recently been working longer hours in extraordinarily stressful circumstances.

And amid all the current chaos, it's easy to forget reports from recent years suggesting that workplace morale is very low in general - for instance, a 2017 Gallup poll reported that 87% of workers in the UK felt disengaged in their job.

Still, with more people working from home lately, we now seem to be collectively appreciating the value of work and recognising that it does play a crucial role in our wellbeing. We can be happy in our work as long as the job is enjoyable, rewarding and reasonably secure.

What job will make you happiest?

The economic slump that will surely follow this pandemic is likely to see many workers looking for new roles that offer the right amount of job security and longevity. A lot of people are already seeking a new purpose in life; finding the 'right' career is paramount for one's personal identity, but happiness is the key factor for most of us.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important is to have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs, 2005

So what's the secret to professional happiness? A survey commissioned back in 2018 by Boundless found that Britain's plumbers are the happiest professionals in the country, with 55% of plumbers saying they were 'very happy' in life.

The survey was designed to uncover who is happy, both at home and at work, and what makes them feel good about themselves and their lives. Plumbers ranked highly in the survey for quality of sleep and physical activity. Not a single plumber said they were 'unhappy' in their job. Compare this to those who work in customer service, and to lawyers, police officers and chefs, all of whom were reported as being unhappy in their work.

Electricians, at 50%, were also one of the happiest groups, with tradespeople in general being way ahead in their happiness index. Builders were also high up on the list.

The Boundless job happiness index

Very happy in life:

  1. Plumbers (55%)
  2. Builders (38%)
  3. Marketing (36%)
  4. Taxi & Lorry Drivers (32%)
  5. Bankers (32%)
  6. Doctors (31%)

[Source]

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"You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending." - Vala Afshar, June 2020

Man looking out his window

Right now, we find ourselves singularly and collectively living through a period of change whose outcome none of us can confidently predict. The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown are events that have become huge catalysts for change, the likes of which we have not seen for generations.

Will things ever return to 'normal'? That's what we're all asking - habits have changed or been broken for us, and that has given many of us the space and time to think about the future and do a bit of soul searching. From a career point of view, there are certainly some deep questions to consider: Where am I going? What is my end goal? Have I just been going through the motions, conforming to a pattern because that's what everyone else was doing - just getting on or getting by?

Here's one positive thing about the lockdown: it's shown us that other ways are possible and that not everything is predetermined. We are allowed to think differently now, and where you go from this point in your life - and your career - depends on you and your decisions as an individual.

How we learn new skills is crucial, and the speed of change in learning has been breathtaking. Universities are under threat because people are now wondering if there's something better and less expensive they could be doing to progress their careers. What are my other options, you might ask, and are traditional institutions really worth the price tag?

As an aside and by way of an example, school teaching - while undoubtedly an indispensable profession - is having to dramatically rethink its approach. Other viable ways of educating have emerged in recent months; online learning has become the new norm in some areas, with the benefits now outweighing the negatives for many. It's another example of the 'interruption of the established ways of doing things' that can have unintended consequences and lead to better solutions that focus on the outcomes or the 'goal' first and foremost.

Access Training Academies' online learning portal is a result of challenging 'the norm' and a reflection of this period of change.

There are even more drastic changes that have grown beyond all expectations. The way we consume goods and services has altered dramatically and will affect our economic model forever; with it, the jobs and careers that many are currently pursuing will change or may be negatively affected. We are clearly seeing the entertainment and hospitality sectors being badly affected, and retailers are suffering from a lack of footfall in shopping centres and high streets due to a surge in online shopping. Is this a new 'normal'? People are certainly now thinking of where to go with their careers and what their aspirations are.

Above all, everyone will want job security and to be at ease with their future prospects, as the current uncertainty has affected every part of our lives and the wider economy. LinkedIn, the social network that focuses on professional networking and career development, last week published a Workforce Confidence report showing how confident UK professionals are feeling about their job security, financial wellbeing and career prospects.

LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Report

Source: LinkedIn

"The latest data shows professionals working in the Construction and Software & IT Services industries are feeling most confident, with a score of 24, followed by Healthcare (21), Finance (18) and Manufacturing (18). Several industries were found to have a score of below 10, with Nonprofits feeling the least confident, with a score of 0, followed by Recreation & Travel (4) and Retail (6)."

The construction industry is one of two sectors with the highest level of confidence reported; job security could be high for the next few decades. The recent announcement by the UK Government regarding huge infrastructure investment means the future is bright in this sector.

The sheer volume of available construction work has increased and will continue to increase a great deal over the short, medium and long term, with lots of work required in terms of erecting buildings and modern infrastructure. Furthermore, older buildings will continue needing to be restored or refurbished, so there should be no shortage of work for tradespeople. New, sustainable practices have brought about the need for a greater volume of hi-tech construction projects, which will of course continue to require a steady supply of workers over the coming years.

The COVID-19 lockdown has not been a positive experience overall, but if there's a silver lining, it's that the lockdown has given many of us the chance to wonder where we are going and why. Maintaining a constant level of happiness throughout our lives is paramount; despite events that are out of our control, we all continually work to maintain that certain level of happiness. Making changes - such as shifting our values, our attention and our goals - allows us to be alert to our situation, and having a stable, rewarding and fulfilling career is central to that. A career in construction could be the solution for you.

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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"Where you are now is based on the decisions you made 5 to 10 years ago. Where you will be in 5 to 10 years is based on the decisions you make now." - Vala Afshar, June 2020

Time for a career change

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong time to change careers - it's a question of circumstance and ambition versus confidence and opportunity. During difficult times, there are plenty of factors that can influence whether or not you feel ready for a career change; in the end, however, it comes down to you as an individual, your own determination, and your own faith and belief in yourself.

Many people have discovered a lot about themselves during lockdown. This applies to those placed on furlough and to key workers who have continued to work through this extraordinary period, but it's especially true for self-employed individuals whose work completely dried up when the lockdown began. For everyone, though, it's a question of whether now is the right time to change and why. Should you take that leap of faith? Or have you been pushed into making life-changing decisions when, actually, you feel hesitant to make a bold move?

Maturity allows us to reflect on decisions made earlier in our lives. During your younger years, you may not have had the confidence or the opportunity to go for the career you really wanted. But now, most students at Access Training Academies (who are mainly in their 30s) believe it's now or never. It's a case of 'Why not?' and 'If I don't do it now, am I going to have the chance again?'

Lockdown has given many the chance to think about this more than ever before. It has also provided the space and the time - away from a 'normal' routine - to have positive thoughts, against the overwhelmingly negative situation everyone was facing up to. Without a doubt, the decision to change can be quite scary; this is only natural, as it's an unknown quantity with an unknown outcome. But it could be an amazing opportunity for change, backed with the certainty that skills shortages remain and opportunities abound.​

Here at Access Training Academies, we learned very quickly during lockdown that many were confidently changing careers and still focusing all their energy positively into their online learning during live webinars that taught them the theory aspects of various trades. Many seemed to be using the lockdown as an opportunity to focus on their future lives and careers.

Confidence is a crucial factor when considering a career change, and a transition into the trades offers a clear potential for future prosperity. COVID-19 did limit on-site work at first (with many sites closing completely and homeowners unable to allow tradespeople into their homes), but the construction industry has become the catalyst to lift the country out of the COVID-19 economic crisis, and with that, many skilled people will be needed to get the work done and the country back on its feet.

So, if you're around 30 years old and you're considering learning a trade, is now the time? Here are 3 fundamental points for you to consider right now:

  1. Think about what trade you want to do and what kind of lifestyle you want. The kind of work you choose to do for a living will dictate what kind of lifestyle you'll have. Each trade offers something different that suits different personal characteristics and aspirations. We can advise you on this and many other aspects.

  2. Think about what service you can provide for paying customers. Consider what you would be able to provide with your newly-learned skills and qualifications gained. What skills do people need? And just importantly, what are you interested in? Talk to us so we can help you.

  3. Think about where you want to be in 5-10 years time. 5 to 10 years ago, you probably wouldn't have had the inclination to make the decision to change, or you may not have had what it takes to make a success of a new career in the trades. But you have amassed a great amount of valuable life experience since then - this can only come with maturity and the challenges that come with everyday life. Talk to us about your options.

Of course, the COVID-19 situation is a major influence on everything right now, but it won't be forever; 'the new norm' will eventually become second nature, and the trades sector will be one of the first - if not the first - to recover and grow markedly.

In fact, 'normality' appears to be returning already. Signs of economic improvement have been reported by Pimlico Plumbers. with company sales up £150,000 compared to the first two weeks of July last year. Pimlico has even set a company record by booking more than £280,000 worth of pre-scheduled jobs in a single week. Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, said:

"There has been little good economic news since lockdown began, but I think there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Some experts have speculated that this time the recovery could be as lightning-fast as the collapse, and in our business, we are seeing sales data to back up that theory."

The time to change may never be 100% clear, but one thing's for sure: time waits for no one. Your career decisions right now will dictate where you will be in 5-10 years from now, and the opportunities are out there; it all depends on whether you have the confidence to make a change.

Talk to us today - our Career Support Team is here to help.

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Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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Work is running dry in some sectors, but the UK's trade skills shortage could be your opportunity to bounce back.

A striking headline in the 19th July edition of The Sunday Times reads: "Work's running dry as 484 people apply for two precious pub vacancies".

Pint of beer in pub

This is followed by another startling stat: "£9-an-hour post triggers a stampede of highly qualified applicants".

But the numbers aren't the only noteworthy part of this story. Just as remarkable were the types of applicants one bar owner was hearing from before he pulled his job advert after only five days.

The Sunday Times article reported that former air stewards, restaurant managers and experienced shop workers - all recently made redundant - were among the hundreds of applicants, whereas normally pub and restaurant owners would expect to receive a dozen or so replies from youngsters with limited experience.

Up and down the country, the story is the same: employers are reporting a stampede of applications for entry-level roles that they would normally struggle to fill. One manager said:

"The quality of people looking for work right now is as good as it ever has been. Unfortunately it's because of the situation people have found themselves in."

Worringly, this could just be the tip of the iceberg - the government's furlough scheme may be giving many workers a false sense of normality right now, but according to some reports, a larger wave of unemployment could hit the UK very soon.

But ask yourself: do you need to take a backward step if this happens to you? Or could this be your opportunity to train for a different career - something you'll find truly rewarding?

 

Learn new career skills with Access Training Academies

Losing your job can be a scarring experience, but before you join the throng of people currently applying for entry-level work in bars and pubs, ask yourself: wouldn't it be more fulfilling to retrain and join an industry that's currently crying out for new workers?

In all likelihood, you've amassed considerable transferable life skills over the years, so why not make the change and become a professional tradesperson? Most think it's a bridge too far - that it's somehow beyond them, an unknown area of employment - but others see the opportunity in front of them and never look back.

The decision to change career is already being forced on many people. Will you seize the moment, discover your entrepreneurial spirit, use your life experience to your advantage, and start something new and rewarding?

"I did a course with these guys [Access Training Academies]...since I passed last year, I decided to go on my own. The phone hasn't stopped ringing since, and I'm at the point now where I have employed two extra guys."

- James Mummery, Professional Electrical Course

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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