Now that we've entered August it's fair to say that the summer holidays have properly started, and school children aren't going to have to even think about school for another month. But what about those 18 year olds who are just coming out of sixth form/college? It's not so easy for them as they won't be going back in September - it's time for them to think about the next step in their lives.

For many university will be the most obvious route, engaging in another 3+ years of education with a qualification and a heap of debt at the end of it. And what job is that qualification likely to get you? With most graduates struggling to get jobs relevant to their degrees, they are now beginning to fill lower-level positions that would usually be taken by those who haven't gone to uni and want to work their way up into a career via experience. So where does that leave them? As you can guess, its a pretty big problem and calls into question just how useful some degrees are in landing you your 'dream' job.

But there are other reasons one might not want to go to university. After over a decade of timetables and school work, some people might want to put that behind them and move onto something different. Instead of more sitting at a desk and writing, there are practical options out there that will keep your working life active and varied. And of course, there is that matter of student loan/tuition fee debt that I briefly mentioned earlier...

With the demand for skilled tradespeople at an all-time high thanks to a construction boom and renewed interest in housebuilding, those looking for a direction outside of university may be perfectly suited to becoming a plumber, gas engineer, electrician, carpenter, plasterer, tiler, bricklayer or decorator. Or even a number of the above! But once again, there are a few ways to go about it.

One option is to take up a college course in your chosen trade. Not a bad option, but there are a few things to think about. These courses can take around two years to complete, which means once again resigning yourself to a strict regime of timetables. There's also the fact that colleges have to budget  their wide variety of courses, which means there's every possibility you could find yourself with facilities not quite as ideal as you might have hoped for.

The alternative? Completing an intensive training course with a private trainer, where you'll be able to earn your skills and qualifications in a matter of weeks. This probably sounds impossible to many of you, but with the right tutelage from experienced tradesmen in a state-of-the-art facility the combines the very best practical and theory training it's more than possible. And with a private trainer their ONLY focus is on the facilities and the training they provide, so you know that your chosen trade is a key subject for them.

Sound like the path you want to take? Then get in touch with Access Training Academies and book your training course today. We specialise in a wide variety of trades training courses, each manned by tutors with many years' experience in the business. All of our courses are accredited by leading awarding bodies such as City & Guilds, Logic and more, and designed to take you from a beginner level all the way to that of a trained professional. Not only that, but we keep our classes to a minimal size to allow the most one-to-one student/tutor time possible, so that you know you're getting the care and attention you paid for. Following completion of your course, you'll be ready to start your brand new career and even have the abilities to go self-employed should you so wish. Its your choice what path you choose but one thing is definitely for sure - you'll have earned yourself skills for life that are constantly in demand, and as such enjoy constant work with impressive wages.

This August, have a think about where you want your life to head next. And if you like the sound of this, give Access a call on 0800 345 7492.

It seems like almost every day we're posting about the ongoing construction boom and just how much its going to benefit new construction trainees, but the industry really is on the rise and the good news just keeps on coming!

Now the latest CITB Construction Skills Network forecast is estimating that the industry is set to see 182,000 new jobs created over the next five years. This rapidly recovering market is led by increased housing demand, with skill shortages predicted across several occupations. In addition to this, planned new nuclear builds will also result in an increased demand for scaffolders over a period of at least four years.

Over the next five years, this is how construction performance in the UK is expected to look:

  • The South West, Wales and East Anglia will benefit to perform the strongest, at +3.5%, +3.4% and 3% respectively - all above the national average of 2.2%.
  • Other areas will feel the effects much more slowly, but the North West (+1.3%), East Midlands (1.1%) and West Midlands (+0.8%) are all still set to improve.
  • Employment growth is a lot more mixed. Some areas are set to see a notable growth (East Anglia is expected to increase by an average of 2% a year), while others may see a reduction (the West Midlands at 0.2%)
  • Private housing will be the main drive for the growth, with the sub-sector rising by around 7% in 2014, with a further 5% the following year. From then on, its expected to grow by 4.6% a year until 2018.
  • Infrastructure is set to have the second largest annual growth, at 3.6%, followed by industrial (3%) and public housing (2.2%)

CITB chairman James Wates commented that the report showed that the economy is "turning the corner" and that the construction industry is benefitting from that. However he also stated: "Growth needs to be sustainable; underpinned by long-term infrastructure projects and continued investment. Employment in 2018 is predicted to be 196,000 below pre-recession levels, which is why measures must be taken now to ensure growth is sustained over the long-term."

Do you need any further proof that now is the time to take up a trades training course and enter the construction industry? Over the next few years there is going to be increasing demand for bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, tilers and painters/decorators. All of these professions are needed in order to meet the rising housing quota, and entering the industry as a qualified professional has never been easier. Access Training Academies offer quality, accredited courses in all of these trades at our state-of-the-art training centre just outside Cardiff city centre. Here you'll learn from our experienced tutors in classes no larger than eight students, permitting to work closely alongside your tutor. After learning the skills required to be a professional tradesperson, you'll be able to undertake the tests required to earn your qualifications right here at the centre. From there the construction world is your oyster - you can go and find employment in a larger company, or alternatively take the steps to set up your own business.

The best part is, these intensive courses will get you fully trained in a matter of weeks, as opposed to the few years it will take with a college course. That may sound like you're getting much less out of it, but our City & Guilds accreditation is a sure symbol that we don't skimp on any of the quality. To find out more about our range of course please fill in the online form found on this website or give us a call on 0800 345 7492. From there one of our course advisors will be happy to answer any outstanding questions you may have.

The construction boom is here, don't miss out!

Though all of Great Britain is shaping up for a construction boom that is predicted to last throughout 2014 and beyond, it's great to hear that the home of Access Training Academies is leading the way. The regional government is reporting that the construction industry here is outperforming the UK as a whole, once again proving that if you're thinking of learning a new trade from a construction training course - now is the time to do so. 

Wales has shown an 8.7% increase over the last four quarters in comparison to the previous four, according the date from the Office of National Statistics. Short term quarterly movements in the construction industry also showed output as increased in Wales by 2.8%.

Welsh economy minister Edwina Hart said: “Together with the latest figures showing an increase in the number of construction jobs in Wales, today’s figures show that the construction sector in Wales is outperforming the UK as whole. Also the Index of Production for Wales shows a 3.1% increase when comparing the latest four quarters to the previous four quarters, while UK output fell by 1.6%.”

With new build projects now starting all across Wales, demand for bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters and tilers is at an all-time high. This boom is expected to continue for years to come, giving skilled labourers job security as well as an eviable wage and a varied and active line of work. However a college course can take years to provide you with the skills and qualifications to turn professional, which is why our range of intensive construction courses is the best solution. We train students to a professional standard, complete with the relevant qualifications, in a fraction of that time - without skimping on any of the quality. 

We also offer a wide variety of scope with our courses - if you'd like to intensively train as a carpenter then our professional carpentry course is right there for you, however if you'd like to try a variety of different trades then you can also build up your own multiskills course. Just let us know what your plans are and we'll do our best to accomodate them.

To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492 or fill in the information form provided on the website. One our of advice team will be in touch shortly to answer any outstanding questions you might have.

The construction industry continues to gather momentum as surveyors forecast a significant rise in Welsh house building in 2014.

According to research direct from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), up to 79% more surveyors believe workloads are going to increase this year - the highest recorded number since numbers were first recorded 15 years ago. On top of this, 25% more surveyors said work on major building projects had grown in the last three months of last year - the most positive infrastructure figure seen in the last six years.

However it isn't all good news, as the survey also highlights concern over labour and material shortages - two factors that could very easily hold back the recovery.

In Wales alone 24% of surveyors admitted to struggling to recruit the skilled labourers they needed between October and December last year. During these months 40% also claimed that a lack of materials was also a significant problem - only this figure is representative of the whole of the UK rather than just Wales. 

RICS Wales chairman Neil Brierley remains optimistic about the situation though, as he sees this increase in building work across the country as "an excellent opportunity for future job opportunities, provided growth can be sustained". In agreement with the director of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Wales Robert Lloyd Griffiths, who said nine out of ten members in the institute anticipate the growth being stronger than it was last year.

2014 is already proving to be a more perfect time than ever to join the construction trade. Job prospects are higher than ever, and as the industry continues to flourish so will your new career as a bricklayer, carpenter, plasterer or tiler. The construction trade offers many benefits that you might not find elsewhere and/or in your current place of work - better job satisfaction, quality of life, significant earning potential and most importantly JOB SECURITY (something that's even more evident in current circumstances). 

Enrol on one of Access Training Academy's construction training courses and you'll be taught by our experienced teaching staff in a state-of-the-art centre. Our courses are all accredited by leading awarding bodies in the industry and you'll earn a professional level of skill in a fraction of the time a college course would take, along with all of the necessary qualifications.

To find out more about the construction training we have here at Access please view the course information pages on the left hand side of the website or contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

Following on from part 1 we will now look at what training courses are available to you, as well as factors such as their cost and duration.

At Access Training we deliver many construction courses, including;

 

Each course can vary from a one week taster course to a total of eight weeks, depending on the outcome you wish to achieve. The one week taster course will give you a good insight to your chosen trade, basic use of tools and basic techniques. Then there are two and three week courses which obviously involve a more in depth look at the particular trade. Each of these courses can give you a recognised qualification from City & Guilds.

The eight week course will give you a CAA Level 2 (Construction Awards Alliance) and potentially a NVQ diploma, both of which are again highly regarded and recognised C&G qualifications. The cost of each course varies, so I suggest you contact Access Training Wales and speak to one of the course advisors.

OK you’ve finished the course you’ve gained your qualification, what next? The truth is finding work is not as difficult as you may think. Most trainees after leaving Access Training start by doing small jobs for friends, family and neighbours.  This will build your confidence and give you some indication of how long a job will take. Best of all you will be under no pressure from family to complete by a certain deadline.

Then there are construction “agencies” that employ people to work on various jobs. They’ll find you the work, but be prepared to work maybe one week here, two weeks there and so on. This is a great way of gaining experience quickly and you will be on a fixed hourly rate, usually around £12 per hour.

So now that you’ve gained both experience and confidence, it’s time to go on your own. This is where you can earn a lot more money – it’s not uncommon for a good tradesperson to earn between £600-800 per week. Keep your options open, if you completed a bricklaying course don’t think that you can only lay bricks. Bricklayers can usually lay patios, decorative work indoors, build archways and more. If you completed a plastering course, plasterers can usually fix coving up, lay screed floors etc. One very lucrative area from a plastering point of view is “Venitian” or “Polished” plastering. There is a niche in the market for this type of work, if you have good trowel skills you can learn this method relatively quickly, and the price for doing this work is roughly £60 per square meter. So the choice is yours – there is work about for good tradespeople, so if you feel you need a career change then go for it!

If you need more information contact Access Training Wales on 08003457492.

- Richard James

 

Choosing to make a complete career change is difficult at any time of life. There are many factors to take into consideration – what opportunities are there? What training courses will I need to attend? How available is the work and how long will it last?

Take for instance many construction trades (bricklayer, carpenter, plasterer, tiler etc.). At this given time work is pretty slack in the construction industry, but I firmly believe that it won’t last much longer. So now is a good time to begin training for new skills. As soon as the construction industry opens its doors again, there will be a definite skills shortage. Having decided to take the challenge and change career what can you expect to be doing on a daily basis?

Take the plastering trade as an example, which provides plenty of opportunity to work both inside or outside. The weather in this country is not the best, so having the chance to work indoors is an added bonus; you will be working most days and won’t be losing money. Plastering covers more than just “plastering” a wall, it could be screeding a floor, plaster boarding a ceiling, dot & dab on walls, dry lining a wall, the list goes on. This is all internal work, whereas dashing, fine down, K render are all external.

Are there any transferable skills you could use, depending on your background? Plastering involves calculating quantities for mixes etc. so numeracy skills would be an advantage. A lot of questions are asked in the workplace so good communication skills would help, the ability to work unsupervised is a great asset to have, as a lot of the time you are given work and be expected to carry it out unsupervised to a high standard.

So having trained for your new career, what qualifications do you need for the construction industry? An NVQ in a relevant trade is essential; this will allow you to apply for a CSCS card – a must have to work on building sites.

Tomorrow in part 2 I will discuss what training courses are available to you, as well as their cost, duration and what you can expect to learn. Also included will be what prospects are open to you and potential wages upon completion.

- Richard James

At Access Training our bricklayer courses will train you up to the highest possible standard. However there have probably been instances where you've seen newly built houses or walls with high quality brickwork, only to see white patches unevenly spread over the structure. This is most probably "efflorescence" and this post aims to teach how you can help prevent it in your future work.

So what is efflorescence? It is the formation of (usually white) salt deposits on the surface of brickwork, which causes a change in appearance. Apart from the unsightly appearance and discolouration, efflorescence can sometimes indicate serious structural weakness.

While there is an agreement that it is caused by a multiple of factors being combined with materials, views differ as to which factor is the main cause of efflorescence. It is usually impossible to deduce the exact causes with absolute certainty.

To help prevent efflorescence, some factors to consider are;

Cement: The type/make of cement chosen can influence efflorescence in exceptional cases. Pigments in coloured cement and other admixtures added to the mortar may contribute to efflorescence through their salt content.

Aggregates: These can contribute to efflorescence if they contain soluble salts. Sand contaminated with salt is a major factor, therefore sands in close proximity to the sea are an obvious risk.

Salts: Soluble salt is present in the materials used to make bricks, therefore it is capable of being transported and deposited on the surface as efflorescence.

Water/Cement ratio: Generally a high water-cement ratio encourages the movement of water and salt through the brick, giving rise to efflorescence.

Mortar Constituents: The composition of mortar is of significance. Lime used should be hydrated and free from calcium sulphate. The use of unwashed sand or sand contaminated with salt, or pigments containing soluble salts can also contribute to efflorescence in brickwork.

The following practices may also cause efflorescence;

  • No protection from the rain, especially during construction.
  • Materials left uncovered on site.
  • Lack of drips on cills.
  • Poorly filled joints/bad workmanship.
Look forward to future articles which will cover other types of staining to brickwork - including lime staining, vanadium and peacocking.

If you are interested in learning more about bricklaying and would like to train professionally, Access Training have a variety of professional bricklaying courses available. Learn more by calling 0800 345 7492.

- Richard James