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's always been said that plumbers are constantly in demand, but did you know that said demand is so high that many existing plumbers are working well over 48 hours a week? It isn't just the customers that need more fully-trained professional plumbers, it looks like the plumbers themselves could use a bit of help too!

A new survey carried out by plumbing assurance scheme WaterSafe found that over half of UK plumbers are working over the maximum working hours with the Working Time Directive. Along with the 54% working over 48 hours, 26% are working between 40-48 hours - with only 13% working between 35-40 hours. What does this mean? Well, 94% of the plumbers spoken to thought that their long hours are having a negative impact on their family and social life.

So what's causing these unhealthy work shifts? 61% said that they've had to extend their working hours over the last ten years, and when asked 77% thought that the recession had impacted their business. Aditionally, 41% commented that customers think that cost is the most important factor when hiring a plumber, rather than who is suitably qualified for the job.

CIPHE CEO and WaterSafe board member Kevin Wellman said it was "concerning" to see such a large proportion of plumbers having to work such long hours in order to meet consumer demand.

He added: "It's important that the industry steps up to addresses this issue because overworked, tired plumbers could potentially result in unsafe installations and have a negative impact on their home life. Moreover, if we want to encourage young people into the industry we need to ensure hours are realistic and the industry is a well-regulated, safe place to work."

With more work available than what the current load of plumbers to handle, becoming a qualified plumber doesn't sound like a bad idea. And if you choose to take those skills and become self-employed, you'll be able to choose the hours you work. Overwork may be a problem for plumbers, but with self-employment you'll always have that option of stopping when you know you need to stop. Physical, varied, rewarding work with good pay and an opportunity for self-employment. Sounds perfect, but where do you start?

You start at the beginning of course, and that's with an intensive plumbing course with us here at Access Training. Working alongside our professional team of tutors, you'll work your way from a beginner all the way up to a trained professional, not only learning the practical skills needed but also the required theory and qualifications. Despite taking a fraction of the time it takes to complete a plumbing course in college, there's absolutely no skimping on quality as you work alongside tutors who've spent years in the plumbing industry. Not only will they be teaching you the relevant plumbing theory, but also offer their wisdom when it comes to working in the industry.

To find out more about our plumbing courses as well as all the other trades training we supply at Access, give our advice team a call on 0800 3457492 or fill in the online form found here on this website. The team are ready to answer all of your questions and explain things in more detail.

Social media site for plumbers

Many of the plumbers reading this blog post will already be using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to promote their businesses. But did you know that there's now a dedicated social media network exclusively for the plumbing trade? Say hello to Connect.

Launched by leading shower/taps brand Bristan, Connect is an online platform that aims to provide installers with a dedicated area for them to get in touch with one another to share information or ask questions. Joining is completely free, and users will be able to upload images and videos of their work or products they think are worth recommending to others. In turn, the community will also provide news and information on the latest products, how-to tutorials, industry news and first access to promotional offers and discounts on Bristan's shower and tap products. It's the ultimate social media platform for plumbers!

Connect's creation was spurred on by Bristan's largest survey to date, which was conducted earlier this year. They found that many installers felt that there were few opportunities online for them to share information with each other. Signing up has been made as hassle-free as possible; you don't even need to create an all-new account! Instead, you can just sign up with an existing Facebook or Twitter profile. 

For more information you can visit the site at www.bristanconnect.com

Via HPM Magazine

Meanwhile, you can also keep up with Access Training on Facebook (link here) and Twitter (@accesstraining1). For more information on our range of trades training courses, which include plumbing, electrics, gas engineering, bricklaying, carpentry, tiling, plastering, painting/decorating and more - give our advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Plumbers are an incredibly important part of our society and most homeowners would be stuck without them. However if seems many are not getting the thanks and appreciation they deserve, with research revealing that UK plumbers are not only getting paid late but are often finding themselves chasing up said payments.

The survey from Worldpay looked at over 1000 tradespeople from across the country, and found plumbers have to chase their earnings up for around 27 weeks - almost twice as long as the average wait time of 15 weeks. More specific data found included that tradespeople are typically paid late once a month, with the annual total late payments owed coming to around £799. Worse still, most of this debt (£770) gets wiped off completely. Meanwhile the average figure for plumbers is significantly larger rising to upwards of £,948 a year. This resulted in over half of respondents admitting to have problems with their cash flow, in additional to worrying about damaging customer relationships and time wasted on chasing payments.

In an attempt to combat this, Worldpay have offered plumbers a few suggestions to help ensure they always get paid on time;

  • Offer customers a wider variety of payment methods. Out of the plumbers spoken to that were paid late in the last 12 months, 73% said that automated (ie card) payments are important for maintaining a regular cash flow.
  • When in doubt, check your customers' credit history. It costs a small fee, but could provide further information.
  • Ensure you have the name and details of the person(s) responsible for paying.
  • Make sure you have properly agreed contract terms. Getting proper legal advice from the get-go may seem like a hassle but could save a lot of time and money in the long run.
  • Consider charging interest on late payments. Making your customers immediately aware of this should hopefully put them off paying late.

With this advice in mind, attaining that dream of becoming a professional plumber should be one step easier. However before you can even think about businesses and payment options, you're going to need the necessery plumbing skills and the qualifications to prove it. Give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about our range of intensive plumbing courses.

With the UK becoming more and more aware of dodgy tradespeople thanks to the horror stories reported all over the media (and often on this very blog too!), more has to be done for consumers to be reassured that the people are hiring are honest and fully qualified. The gas industry has the Gas Safe Register, and electricians have any number of competent person schemes - what is there for plumbers?

In previous blog posts last year we introduced WaterSafe - the first plumbing body of its kind. Set up back in October 2013, this national assurance scheme is designed to recognise competent plumbers as well as protect homeowners and plumbing businesses alike. WaterSafe has the backing of all UK water suppliers and water quality regulators, having been developed by all seven existing Approved Contractors' Schemes. Although it hasn't been around long WaterSafe seems to be making a huge impression on the plumbing world, exceeding expectations and targets when it comes to membership figures.

Now WaterSafe have teamed up with BPEC to create a course that ensures plumbers receive all the qualifications required to join the scheme. The specially designed qualification is equivalent to the NVQ Level 2 and Water Regulations certificates - both of which are qualifications we offer here at Access Training Academies. So while the specialised course itself is still rolling out across the country (to date only three training centres in the UK have been given the go-ahead to run it), aspiring plumbers elsewhere should know that we can still offer them the means to eventually become part of this great (and FREE) scheme. 

To find out more about our intensive plumbing courses and the qualifications you'll need to be viewed as an experienced, competent and QUALIFIED plumber, give our course advice team a call on 0800 345 7492. Stamping out rouge tradespeople is something we all need to be a part of, and the first step toward doing that is properly setting them apart from the honest ones in the country such as yourself.

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