am i too old to learn a trade

One question we get asked a lot here at Access Training is - am I too old to learn a trade? The short answer is no! Our courses are available to people of all ages and abilities and can work around your pre-existing responsibilities. Whether you're finishing school and looking to become an electrician through a full-time course, or 40 and hoping to become a plumber through one of our part-time courses, we can accommodate you.

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Over the last year, millions of people across the country and the globe, have been forced to take their working lives into the home. Life under lockdown has meant that the home has taken the place of the office, with staff having to retreat to their living quarters. Leaving your work at the front door has long been impossible. It goes without saying that this has brought its various challenges, obstacles, and situations to adapt to. 

It might not be a stretch to suggest that our boilers have felt this added pressure more than any of us. At first glance, there might not seem to be an immediate connection between increased time spent at home and the conditions of our boilers. But the surprising truth is that hours and hours spent working from home have given our boilers quite a job to do. 

Hometree, a boiler, heating and home cover specialist, has reported a 12% year-on-year increase in boiler breakdowns over the winter of 2020. 

An important consequence of working from home has been that millions of homes have required heating for many more hours of the day. Throughout the winter lockdowns this is especially true, with some homes needing heating during the entire day while they work. 

Kemley Sellars, a spokesperson from Hometree, has noted: 

‘the additional usage [of boilers] whilst working from home has meant increased wear and tear.

It really highlights the importance of having your boiler serviced in the coming months, ensuring that it’s working for next winter where many may have transitioned post-Covid to working from home more often’.

 

What does this mean for gas engineers? Firstly, it’s that they were in particularly high demand over the winter period, after months of increased boiler usage led to these boilers breaking down. It shows us that, even during a lockdown, during a pandemic, boilers are ever more essential than they always have been. 

Secondly it shows us that gas engineers will continue to be in high demand this year, as the public are being made increasingly aware of the importance of having your boilers serviced annually. Hometree offered some important advice to their customers and readers, one piece of which was to ensure an annual service by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. This increased awareness of the importance of servicing your boiler will put many engineers in work over the coming months. 

It’s highly important to make sure that your boilers and radiators are in full working order at this time of year. During winter time, low temperatures can cause standing water in pipework to freeze. Not only this, but having your boiler breakdown at the time of year when you need it most is the last thing you need. 

Thirdly, this information shows us the increased likelihood of gas engineers being in even higher demand as the years go by. Thousands of people are likely to have found the convenience of working from home to their liking. The ease of this new model, which some studies are suggesting to be more productive and efficient than working from the office, might be difficult to leave for many. 

We could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the office as the dominant working environment, meaning that our boilers are going to have to put up with this increased usage on a long term basis. This is only a good thing for those looking to get into the industry; it will secure an already rising demand for skilled workers and qualified tradespeople. 

Boilers will always need servicing, replacing, maintaining; but now, as our need for them is increasing due to these unprecedented times, demand for qualified gas engineers is only going up.

It’s a career for the future. It’s a career for life. 

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen. 

 

 

There is a longstanding argument about the benefits or negatives of being self-employed over direct employment. This extends beyond the construction industry, into all facets of the world of work. There has been a significant rise in those registered as self-employed; between 2001 and 2017, self-employment in the UK rose from 3.3 million to 4.8 million. But there is no right or wrong answer – whether you become self-employed or not, depends on your personal preference, your professional situation, and what you want out of a career. 

Nevertheless, it is important to have the facts and figures when you’re preparing to get out into the world of work. The nature of your working status will change your lifestyle, your expectations and responsibilities; it will impact the taxes you pay, your paid leave, and the opportunities you have for professional development. Below we have listed some of the pros and cons of being either self-employed or employed, so that you can move forward with a clearer vision of your professional route.

 

Pros of Self-Employment

Being your own boss

The headline for those self-employed workers is that it gives you autonomy over your working life. Everything from the hours you work, how much you earn, and the kind of work you do, can be regulated by yourself. Naturally, this kind of freedom comes with its own responsibilities and challenges. But if you’re looking for flexibility above all else, without having to operate within the confines of a larger company, then this model might be for you.

 

You reap your own rewards

Everybody wants to see the benefits of their own hard work, and being self-employed means exactly this. Running your own business in the construction industry can be incredibly financially rewarding; you take out what you put in. Working hard for other people may not be as satisfying and personally motivating as earning money for yourself, and seeing your business skills go from strength to strength. Working for an employer might not offer the same potential for the same growth, though it does undoubtedly have its own benefits.

 

Professional flexibility

Nobody understands your own strengths and limitations better than you do yourself, which is why as a self-employed worker you don’t have to be restricted in your working opportunities – and that means a bigger financial reward for yourself. 

An employer might underestimate you, and even limit you to one job at a time, when you know that you could be stretching yourself. When self-employed, you can challenge yourself to achieve tasks to the best of your abilities, and have full control over your ongoing projects. You negotiate the contract you have with each individual customer, and base your progress on this – full autonomy, and maximum opportunity.

 

Personal development

Becoming self-employed is an undeniable challenge. But some of the things which make self-employment seem less appealing, like the added responsibilities, might ultimately themselves be positives. The skills you learn as an individual could be ones you’d never learn in any other capacity; things like self-motivation, self-discipline, planning, resourcefulness, and thinking on your toes. You need to generate and pursue your own opportunities – but this doesn’t need to sound daunting or high-pressured. For certain people with the capacity to do well, this could be the perfect lifestyle. 

 

Pros of Employment

 

Financial security

Despite the obvious freedoms of being self-employed, there are some inevitable downsides. The obvious benefits of working for a wider company is financial stability, and the legal perks that go with being a regular employee. You are paid a regular wage, given consistent work, and awarded a job security which is far more difficult to achieve as a self-employed worker. In addition to this, taxation is also covered by being employed. That is, you pay it automatically through PAYE, meaning you can enjoy your earnings while those who are self-employed have to stay on top of how much they owe to the taxman. 

 

Regular work

Working for an employer means that much of the responsibility for finding work rests with those above. You enjoy the reputation or influence of a larger marketed entity, meaning that your opportunities won’t fizzle out (as long as the company itself is still trading of course). You can without having to worry about marketing yourself, broadening your customer base, or networking. The big company does that work for you.For those who are self-employed, finding work is itself a huge part of the challenge; working for an employer, however, you can simply turn up, do the job, and leave your work at the doorstep. 

 

You get to enjoy employment rights

Employment rights are legal perks which come as a result of being employed, as opposed to being self-employed. That is, the right to earn a national living wage, statutory paid leave, a minimum level of paid holiday and rest breaks, and sick pay. Not only does it offer you rights which help you financially, but also legally: you have a certain amount of protection in the workplace against things like unlawful discrimination, or protection against whistleblowing. 

As a self-employed person, you would of course be entitled to health and safety and discrimination rights; but other rights are set out by terms of the contract you have with your individual clients, so it can be a lot to think about.

 

But regardless of the route you choose through the construction industry, it will still be a fulfilling and rewarding one. The forthcoming years are going to be successful years for tradespeople, and will see demand rising, opportunities increasing, and work plentiful. Whatever your career ambitions – whether you want to impress potential employers or be your own boss – Access Training can help to make them a reality. 

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen. 

‘We cannot “build back better” without the builders’ –– Oscar Watkins, head of IPPR construction sector.

 

Since 2010, 1.8 million houses have been built in England alone. In December of last year, we saw a 37-year high in the number of houses built in a single year: 243,770. This was the seventh consecutive year in which the number of houses built has risen

Now consider how this immense feat could have been possible without the construction workers who built these houses? And with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stated ambition to ‘build back better’ in the coming years, it’s looking likely to be a persistently busy time for construction workers. 

There’s no question about how important the services of tradespeople are to daily life, and this in itself will ensure that careers in trades will continue being busy. But this high demand is undoubtedly increased by the skills gap that the UK has faced for a decade or more. In 2015, one quarter of all construction job vacancies was a result of the current skills crisis. By 2018, the percentage of skills-gap vacancies had risen to 43%. And this worsening problem is caused by one simple fact: there are more jobs available in trades than there are skilled workers to fill them. And so the demand for tradespeople is especially high.

This skills shortage is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, the workforce is ageing. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) estimated that 750,000 construction workers will either retire, or have reached retirement age, within the next fifteen years. Brexit has also meant that hiring EU-born workers (who made up a big portion of the UK construction workforce) is more complicated and expensive for contractors than hiring UK-born workers. The number of EU workers halved in two years, from 115,000 to 53,000 between 2018-2020. On top of this, apprenticeship numbers are inefficient and in decline, with a 30% reduction across Britain.

These contributing factors cause concern to British industry leaders. It means that certain important quotas might fail to be met; the aim to achieve a zero-carbon economy by 2050, for instance, is highly dependent on the next generation of workers in the construction sector.

But it’s a good thing for those either already in the industry, or for those looking to get started. The opportunities for a long-term career are practically endless. The demand for most trades is consistently high. Work is well-paid and plentiful. 

A survey conducted by Rated People and Vanorama, asked 1000 people from around the UK about their demand for tradespeople during 2020. It turns out that it was pretty high, with 64% of those asked saying that they’d called out a tradesperson at least once; despite lockdowns and a pandemic, 68% of those surveyed said that they were comfortable with tradespeople in their homes. 

The survey also gave an insight into how busy life might be for tradespeople for the foreseeable future. Here are just a few statistics proving how integral construction work was to people during 2020:

 

Plumbers

  • Plumbers topped the bill, as they proved to be the most in-demand tradespeople of 2020, with 23% of those surveyed saying that it was a plumber they called out. 
  • The average wage for plumbers has risen considerably in a year, from £31,370 in 2019, to £32,356 – just shy of a £1,000 increase.

 

Electricians

  • Electricians were the second highest demand trade of 2020, with 11% of the UK’s adult population having called one out at least once.

 

  • Projected growth of job vacancies by 8% between 2019-2029. This is higher than the average growth for all occupations.

 

  • Electricians just about earn the highest average salary out of all the trades, with £33,495. This is an increase on 2019’s average of £33,176, and suggests a growing trend as the years move ahead.
  • Estimates suggest that an extra 15,000 electricians are needed across the UK in order to fill the skills gap. One of those could be you.

 

Of course, it wasn’t plumbers and electricians alone who were reaping the rewards. Carpenters and joiners are also in extremely high demand, with around 60% of construction companies noting the current shortage of workers to hire. In 2016, the employment rate for carpenters was predicted to grow by 8% over the next ten years, and the current widening of the skills gap is only increasing this likelihood. In short, the trades industry in general is experiencing a massive shortage of workers, and this is generating high demand for skilled workers. 

 

We’ve seen a natural increase of 7% more jobs being posted for tradespeople compared to last year, so there has definitely been a rise in demand for their services, despite what you might expect with a pandemic. The trade industry has fortunately been able to keep operating in line with new health and safety requirements to be on hand to help people get more enjoyment from their homes and save the day in any home emergencies’ – Adrienne Minster, Rated People CEO

 

And high demand means plenty of well-paid work. Not only are average salaries rising, but customers are still keen to spend money on tradespeople. The survey above also tells us something about the spending trends witnessed throughout 2020, and reveals that people are not afraid to spend money on tradespeople. One in five people spent over £1,000 on tradespeople during 2020, either for kitchen, bathroom or garden work alone. One in ten spent over £5,000 during the year. Interestingly, most of those surveyed spent under £100, suggesting that it’s the minor but crucial smaller jobs keeping tradespeople busy and earning over an exceptionally difficult year. 

Even better news for tradespeople is that customers base their decisions on who to book primarily on the quality of the work, rather than how much it costs. Only 12% chose a tradesperson based on how much they charge, with 70% more likely to take notice of a good reputation. That means, if you’re good at what you do, and you’re working as your own boss, you can charge what your quality work deserves.

If this isn’t proof enough that tradespeople have been in high demand, we can see it from the customers themselves: 29% of those surveyed said that they’d had to wait longer than usual to book a tradesperson, due to their busy schedules. Considering lockdowns and stories of struggling during the pandemic, you would have thought the opposite to be true. But no, customers are virtually queuing up to pay tradespeople to fix their home issues – often problems that they’ve caused themselves, as 20% admitted to having caused the problems themselves, as a result of spending too much time at home over lockdown! 

If there’s one thing that the pandemic has reminded us of, it’s that we will never stop needing tradespeople. The survey conducted  Plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers – you name it. Pandemic or not, boilers will break, appliances will need servicing and maintenance. Who else could fit our bathrooms and kitchens? Who else could ensure our central heating didn’t conk out throughout the winter? The answer is, well, nobody. 

Take this chance to join an industry of opportunity. The timing couldn’t be better.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

Starting a career in the construction industry might seem like an enormous task, but it’s really quite simple. Your first step is to find your nearest training college and gain your qualifications. With the right qualifications, the construction world will open up to you, and the range of work that you can undertake will be sure to keep you busy.

The difficulty when it comes to finding work without initial experience is that your portfolio might be fairly limited; getting that early experience is vital. An important element of the training course at Access Training is to begin building your portfolio early, offering experience on-site, and generally preparing you for a career. We don’t just give you the qualifications and say goodbye, we aim for a developed and fulfilling career, and check in on your progress down the line. 

Employers are looking for committed, disciplined, high-quality workers with their heads screwed on and the right qualifications to match. With some hard work and focus, that can be you.

 

Do I need an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship can be one route into the world of construction, but unless you want to spend between 2-4 years training for a qualification you can complete in as many months, this may not be the best option for you. 

Private training colleges are your best bet for receiving the right qualifications without having to wait years for them. Anybody who is getting into construction is naturally itching to get to work, get learning, and ultimately get earning; to do that as quickly as possible, apprenticeships are not entirely necessary, let alone essential. 

There are other, more efficient routes into the construction industry. It just takes the right place, the right course, and the right mindset. 

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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