Today - the 8th of March, 2016 - is International Women's Day. This annual event began more than 100 years ago, and every March it serves as a great opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievements of women all over the world.

However, IWD is also an opportunity to highlight the many areas where gender equality still hasn't been achieved, and regrettably, our own field is a prime example. Female workers are still astoundingly rare in the construction and trade industries; according to this article from last year, women account for just 11% of the UK construction industry's total workforce, and only 1% of those women actually work on construction sites. Women are similarly under-represented in trades such as plumbing and electrical work, and while the ratios are beginning to shift,  it's clear that there's still a long way to go.

So how can we encourage more people to learn a trade and join these male-dominated industries? First of all, people need to change their attitudes towards tradeswomen, and that applies both to the general public and to representatives of the trades in question. A couple of years ago, the Telegraph ran an article suggesting that roughly one-third of the UK population would be "suspicious" of a female electrician, and countless tradeswomen have shared their stories of the sexist remarks that come their way . Here's one example from Hattie Hassan, founder of Stopcocks Women Plumbers (originally reported on Sky News in 2014):

"Someone sent me an email saying, 'Look, love...plain and simple, women can't be plumbers. You'll break a fingernail and have to go out shopping to console yourself. Or you'll go running screaming when you see a spider.'"

Clearly, these sort of attitudes aren't helping anybody - it's easy to see why a budding female plumber or gas engineer might be put off. For this reason, we also need to do work harder to encourage women to join these trades in the first place, and that responsibility, at least to some extent, falls to training providers like us. The promotional materials distributed by construction/trade training centres are often targeted specifically at male learners, but this approach benefits nobody - after all, it's in the training provider's interest to attract as many new students as possible, regardless of gender.

Here at Access Training, we try to make people of all genders/races/backgrounds feel welcome at our training centres. We realise that we could still be doing more - for example, most of the photos currently on our website are of men, not women. But the sad fact of the matter is that, right now, most of the people who enquire about our courses are male, and while we are keen to do whatever we can to get more women working in the trade and construction industries, it seems that this goal will be extremely difficult to achieve until people - namely the people who are "suspicious" of female electricians, the people who tell women they "can't be plumbers", and anyone else who continues to perpetuate the false notion that women aren't cut out for these jobs - adopt a more positive, welcoming attitude towards people who, at the end of the day, are just as capable of mastering these skills as any man.

Trade training courses from Access Training:

Since the 2015 General Election, Britain has seen many changes in the way that the UK is run, and this year is no different. Yes, we are talking about the hot topic of the moment – the EU Referendum.

The EU referendum has turned in a rather controversial issue, with people from every industry having their say on whether Britain should stay or leave. This is because an EU exit will have profound effects on how Britain will conduct future business – especially in the construction industry. Reassuringly, a survey conducted by Smith and Williamson found that only 15% of construction company executives favoured leaving the European Union.

One of the major issues that leaving the EU would present to the construction industry concerns access to labour. Presently, the UK is experiencing a huge skills shortage across the construction industry, which means that we are relying heavily on foreign workers to come over and help fill the gap.

One of the fundamental values of the EU is free movement, which makes immigration around EU counties relatively easy and stress-free. If Britain exits the EU then emigration into the UK will become more difficult, discouraging skilled workers from entering the country and focusing on countries still within the EU.  On a positive note, there will be more jobs within the construction industry, but fewer people to fill them.

The EU is a trading union, which has helped break down barriers that make it difficult for companies to do business and invest in each other’s businesses. With the threat of a Brexit looming, multimillion-pound manufacturing giants have already expressed concerns about investing in an independent UK. One of the biggest advantages to being in the EU is that we are granted free trade between member nations. This makes it easier and cheaper for British companies to export their goods and - more importantly for the construction industry - building materials.

Even though the vast majority of construction companies are currently in favour of staying in the EU, it is important to look at the counter arguments of the 15% minority. For instance, the chairman of JCB plans to vote in favour of a Brexit because it “could cut the costs of bureaucracy so much that any additional costs of leaving the EU would be easily covered”. He also disagrees with the claims that it will make trade more difficult with other EU countries because “it is in everyone’s interests to trade openly and freely.”

It is hard to predict what knock-on effect a Brexit will have on the UK’s construction industry because no country has ever left the EU before. Over the coming months we are going to hear a lot of arguments to stay or leave, and possibly a lot of contradictory information about what will happen if we do decide to exit. At the end of the day, it is up to us as individuals to come to an educated decision as to whether we think it will be beneficial for the UK to stay or leave.

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Construction industry wage
 
The average construction industry wage for workers rose by 6% in 2015, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. This rise is significantly higher than the average increase for UK workers in general (2%), and it proves that construction is one of the most lucrative career choices for British workers at present.

Why have construction industry wages risen so much?

Construction industry wages have risen because the demand for skilled construction workers is particularly high at the moment. This is due to the desperate skills shortage that Britain is currently experiencing; simply put, there aren't enough competent professionals in the country to cover all the work that's currently available to them.
 
(Furthermore, with an EU referendum on the horizon, many are concerned that the shortage could soon get even worse - if Britain were to leave the European Union, it would be harder for new workers to enter the country from elsewhere in Europe.)
 
This shortage has allowed the UK's construction workers to take on more jobs and charge higher prices, further increasing the construction industry wages. A recent survey showed that the majority of construction firms (61%) reported "a sharp rise in wage costs" for 2015. 

Which skills are most in-demand?

Competent bricklayers are reportedly hardest to come by at the moment, but the skills shortage is an industry-wide problem, and more or less all construction industry workers are earning higher wages because of it. Winter is a particularly busy time for plumbers; you may remember that we wrote a blog post about this matter last month.
 

Should I be worried about this?

It depends on who you are. You've probably heard about the housing crisis that's currently affecting parts of London and Southern England, and the construction skills shortage certainly isn't helping on that front; many of the government's housebuilding plans will be thrown into turmoil if Britain fails to find more builders soon. 
 
It may also be a problem if you yourself need any work done - as previously mentioned, the skills shortage has enabled contractors to charge significantly higher rates for each job, so be prepared to get your wallet out!
 
However, the skills shortage could be very good news indeed if you're planning to join the construction industry. With demand outstripping supply by such a wide margin, this is a golden opportunity for those looking to retrain and start a new career - that gap in the market needs to be filled, and there's money to made if you can do so.
 
If you'd like to gain the qualifications necessary to become a professional construction worker, we at Access Training can help. Contact us for details, or select one of the following course options to learn more:
Construction crane

A recent Financial Times article revealed that contractors in London now refuse 1 in 2 jobs, suggesting that workers now have the freedom to pick and choose which contracts they accept. As we have seen reported countless times over the past year or so, the UK is currently experiencing the worst skills shortage for a generation, leading to an increased demand for skilled labourers such as plumbers and bricklayers.

While the construction industry is growing at an accelerated rate, the availability of skilled manual workers and trade professionals is failing to keep up with the demand. This may seem like rather bleak news for the sector, however, it is actually quite promising news for skilled tradesmen and those looking to enter into these "in demand" skill areas. According to the same Financial Times article as referred to above, the average cost of a construction contract in London has risen by 10% over the past year, which demonstrates that the construction industry is becoming more and more lucrative.

There is clear evidence to support the conclusion, that those in possession of the required skills are highly likely to find an abundance of jobs on offer in their area of expertise, leaning to freedom of choice and the probability of being offered financial incentives in order to select a particular employer. There has quite clearly, never been a better time to enter into the sector, an objective easily reached with the right training and qualifications. 

At our Access Training facilities we offer an abundance of construction courses to suit a variety of skill levels, whether you are new to the industry, or are looking to improve your existing skills in order to meet trade standards. There are a number of courses on offer that will equip you with the right skills in order to succeed in this field, instilling you with the correct practical and theoretical knowledge to progress in your desired career.

To find out more about the excellent service we can offer aspiring skilled professionals, visit our 'About Us' page.

If you caught our blog post yesterday you'd have seen that Britain's capital has quite a few construction projects in mind, and so skilled bricklayers are needed more than ever to keep up with the schedule. So much in fact, that wages are approaching an all-time high.

With wage inflation rates currently running as high as 10% thanks to skill shortages, bricklayers are are currently earning around £170 per day. However specialists are expecting this to rise to a staggering £200 a day!

Carpenters are another trade currently enjoying similar pay rates, with plasterers also cited as being in high demand.

These are big plans for London rennovation, and qualified constuction workers in the area won't only be finding themselves with plenty of work available - they'll also be able to enjoy these incredible pay rates. If you require the right qualifications to work onsite or want to retrain to work in the construction trade, Access Training Academies are here to help. With our intensive bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, tiling, plumbing, electric, gas and decorating training courses, you'll be able to quickly and effectively learn the skills you need from veteran tradesmen with years' of experience in the business.

Take advantage of the amazing construction opportunities available and give us a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

Via Construction Enquirer

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