While obviously the main part of gaining a great reputation as a plumber, electrician or any kind of tradesperson is to be fully qualified from an accredited training course, there are still other aspects you have to look at in order to make your business become a success. In the past we've looked at issues such as how your van looks, using social media and even how to handle missed calls. But now we come to another big part of today's modern age and how consumers will search for a competent tradespeople - the internet, or more specifically, websites.

According to new research from digital marketing/website provider hibu, less than a third of construction firm websites are mobile-friendly. With 62% of adults in the UK now using smart phones and 83% having browsed the internet on their phone, this is proving to be a missed opportunity to reach a wider audience. Smart phones are quickly becoming the most common method of accessing the internet thanks to their portability and ability to be used on the go - and so in some ways its even more crucial to have your website mobile ready than it is laptop accessible.

Hibu UK Chief Executive Officer Richard Hanscott said: "Anyone who has visited a website that isn’t mobile-friendly knows how frustrating – or even impossible – it is to browse and navigate it on their mobile device. With consumers increasingly searching local businesses on their smartphones and tablets, it’s crucial that firms have websites that are mobile-friendly so that they continue to attract customers and do not fall behind their competitors. Business owners may feel daunted by mobile technology but in reality they do not need any technical skills to ensure that their site works well and looks great on any device, or even optimised specifically for smartphone or tablet."

So once you've earned your qualifications and are heading out to become a self-employed tradesperson, a mobile friendly website is definitely something worth considering. If you find yourself struggling to do this, hibu have launched a business store specifically catering to those in need of one. The best part is that you can also take advantage of a 30-day free trial before signing up to the full service.

ELECSA and NICEIC operators NAPIT and Certsure have come together to create a single place consumers can go to find a fully qualifiied electrician. This easily identifiable mark will cover all full scope Part P registered electricians and is planned to roll out this year.

The two associations both created their own individual registers last year, but have since realised the advantages of creating a single one to avoid confusion. In addition to this, both feel that the attention given to the launches has proved a distracytion from key issues in the electrical industry - namely safety and quality. To overcome this, NAPIT and Certsure met back in November to discuss the way forward in terms of promoting competent, qualified electricians.

The proposal that has been put forward is anticipated to include all licensed Electrical Competent Person Scheme Operators in England and Wales who are approved by the DCLG to run an electricial certification scheme, who have been said to be "happy with the plans" in principle. The schemes will continue to operate individually in accordance with current Building Regulations, however they will now also promote the new quality mark as well as their own.

Emma Clancy, Chief Executive Officer of Certsure, said consumers will now benefit from a single point of reference, making it far easier for consumers to locate a registered electrician in their area. NAPIT Chief Executive Michael Andrews added that the new register will also "ensure that electrical installers continue to be able to take advantage of the choice and value for money that comes as part and parcel of healthy competition in the marketplace"

When becoming a fully qualified electrician, gaining your Part P qualification and joining a Competent Persons Scheme is an incredibly important step to take. It ensures consumers that you are fully qualified and able to perform electrical installations, setting you apart from the so-called "cowboy builders" that plague the industry. Not only that, but a Part P qualification allows electricians to self-certify their own work. This means you can sign off on any installations without having to inform your local building authority - saving you a considerable amount of money in inspection fees.

The Part P qualification, along with all electrical qualifications needed to become a full-time electrician, is available as an intensive course from Access Training Academies. If you would like the steps to become a fully-fledged electrician, take a look at the courses we have on offer and give us a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

Having fully completed his professional electrician course, ex-rugby player and Access Academies student Xavier Rush has now turned his attention towards retraining in a second trade and begun a plumbing training course with us. We caught up with him during the fourth week of his six week course to find out how he's getting on and how the plumbing training has differed from his previous experience with the electrical training course. One thing's for sure, it's a very different experience to playing rugby for both the All Blacks and Cardiff Blues...

How are you finding the change from electrical work to a plumbing course?

It’s definitely the most practical I’ve done so far! There was a lot of theory with the electric but theory there is here is probably a lot easier to grasp. But then it’s also far more hands on too. It’s very busy – we’ve been working with low carbon steel and a lot of copper as well. I fitted a bathroom last week which was enjoyable – it’s nice to step back and see the results sometimes.

But a lot like the electric these are intense course and you pick up a lot of information and skills quickly. It helps that you’re learning from people who’ve been in the industry a long time.

Had you done any plumbing before starting the course?

No, before this I didn’t have a thing – I couldn’t even stop a leak. You’ve got to pick it up quite quickly as there’s no one there holding your hand. Once you’ve got an understanding of it all it gets a lot easier. It’s just knowing what fittings do what and what products you’re working with, that sort of thing.

Have you found anything especially difficult over the last four weeks?

I suppose it just takes you a while before you get competent with everything really. Nothing is truly mind boggling. There were a few issues fitting a bath, but it’s the kind of stuff you can get your head around.

How have the tutors been?

They’ve been great and a really big help this week especially. They don’t baby you at all, but make sure to tell you exactly where you’ve gone wrong – which is exactly what they need to do. If you were working in someone’s house and you spring a leak and their lounge ceiling falls in you’re going to be in trouble. So you’ve just got to know. It’s just like anything – the more you practice you have, the better you get. Its good being here because if you’re going to make mistakes make them here, that way I can waste your copper rather than mine!

How have you found the studying at home element of the course?

Like I said, you are picking up a lot of information in a short time so while you’re here you’ve really got to apply yourself for the six weeks. There’s a lot of going home, revising, getting ready for exams because if you don’t do the homework you don’t get the passes. You have got to read the book and retain that information. I’ve had many a late night drinking coffees at Starbucks looking like a bit of a geek.

And finally, how much time do you have left here before you’re all done?

I’ve got two more weeks after Christmas. It’s been an intense four weeks so it’ll be nice to have a bit of a break and then come back and hit it again. Because we’ve done so much over the last few weeks and put so many fittings together you should be able to retain a lot of the information. And then after that that’ll be it for me…for now! I might come back and do the one week electrical testing course just to freshen up on that. But it’s just brilliant to come here and reskill so quickly as an older person. I did carpentry when I left school but to think now I’ve got plumbing and electric qualifications backing that up. And to feel confident with that within ten weeks is berserk really – they’re skills you’ve obviously got for life.

I can look at stuff in houses now and understand it. Obviously it doesn’t give you all the experience – you’re still going to go out there and make mistakes but it’s given me a really good grasp of both industries, both the electric and the plumbing.

As Xavier approaches the end of his Access Academies training, we'll be talking to him again in the new year to discuss his overall experiences and his plans for the future. In the meantime if you have any questions you'd like to ask him about changing careers and retraining in a new trade, please let us know over on Twitter or Facebook. If you yourself would like more information on Access' extensive range of trades training courses (also including gas engineering, carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, tiling and painting/decorating), please get in contact with one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

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

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

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

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

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

Or shall we just trust to luck?

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

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

Season’s Greetings,

- Mark Jenkins.

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

 

All the staff at Access Training UK are genuinely sorry for the many staff at New Career Skills who have lost their jobs today after the company went into administration. Hundreds if not thousands of trainees will not be able to complete their plumbing and electrical training, and in a lot of cases may have lost their life savings as well.

Approximately twelve months ago we helped students from another training company that went into liquidation, and in some cases they managed to get the money back they had paid and complete their training in one of our training centres based throughout the country. If you are one of the many New Career Skills trainees who do not know where to turn please contact one of our trained advisors on 0800 345 7492.  They are here to advise you on what steps you can take. Alternatively, if you are a member of staff please feel free to contact us regarding positions we have available.

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