As of the 1st July, the Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) are no longer issuing the Green Construction Site Operative (CSO) card, replacing it with a brand new Green Labourer Card.

The CSCS’ role is to provide a scheme for the construction industry that confirms site workers’ training and qualifications. However many site workers carrying out skilled occupations have been applying for the green CSO card simply as the easiest route to gain access to construction sites. This in turn has made it difficult for contractors to use CSCS cards as a reliable method of checking that site workers have the appropriate skills to work on construction sites safely and effectively.

The new card requires applicants to achieve the Level 1 Health and Safety in a Construction Environment qualification, designed to improve safe working practices on UK construction sites. This isn't just applicable to newcomers to the construction industry either - those who need to renew their card will also require this qualification.

City & Guilds will be supplying this as the 6072 qualification, which we are approved to run here in Cardiff at Access Training. For those closer to the Kent area that need to complete this to start their brand new career, we will soon also be providing the same service at our sister centre the Plumbing Academy. For more information on what this qualification entails and to book your place, get in touch with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) have joined forces with BSE sector skills council SummitSkills to launch a research project exploring various aspects of the plumbing and heating sector.

The main area being explored by the project is the current apprenticeship system, specifically how EngTech registrations are working and how both can be maximised for the sector. Considering attitudes towards professional registration and competence schemes, assessing the potential for apprenticeships to meet future skills requirements and understanding the perceived value of EngTech registration are included within the research objectives.

Research will be carried out via a series of focus groups and questionnaires to be completed over the next few weeks, culminating with a report launching in the House of Lords next month.

"This is an excellent initiative which provides a great opportunity for industry to collaborate and safeguard future apprenticeships," said Kevin Wellman, Chief Executive Officer of the CIPHE. "Quality vocational training and relevant practical experience leading to Engineering Council registration is becoming increasingly important for all plumbing professionals, which is something that all our Industry Stakeholder Group partners recognise."

For more information on the research, contact Jacqui Chivers of Summit Skills on 07834 868947.

Construction expansion continues as new surveys show house building activity remained close to a 10-year high last month, moving the industry into its 12th consecutive month of growth.

Housing starts have grown to a rate of around 15,000 a month, with house prices increasing because supply is unable to meet demand. The Bank of England's deputy governor, Jon Cunliffe, has warned that it would be "dangerous to ignore the momentum that has built up in the UK housing market". A report from Legal & General has also revealed the extent of Britain's "national obsession" with house prices - values have shot up by 4,300pc over the past 40 years, and it also warned that a lack of supply could lead to housing becoming the biggest driver of UK inequality. 

The Government has been doing its best to combat this, introducing numerous schemes to increase the number of new houses across the UK. In Wales specifically Cardiff, Newport and Bridgend are just a few of the places with areas of land prepped for new builds. But while the building of new houses might solve the problem of demand, it in itself brings along another issue - does Britain have enough skilled construction labourers to make it happen? Cardiff, Newport and Bridgend were mentioned earlier as examples because these three places are facing that very problem and are in desperate need of teams of qualified bricklayers to help continue the work planned there.

The economic recession was a very difficult time for the construction industry, so seeing it recover in the way it has is a tremendous achievement. But it can only continue with your help. If you've ever considered changing careers to become a professional construction worker, whether it be as a bricklayer, carpenter, plasterer, tiler or decorator - now is the time to do it. Demand is at a high, which will not only secure you plenty of work but also an enviable wage. But first you'll need the qualifications employers will be looking for - something we can help you with here at Access Training.

We offer intensive training courses in all the aforementioned construction trades, each of which are fully accredited by City & Guilds. In a fraction of the time you'd spend on a college course, you'll learn all the skills and techniques needed to complete a professional job. From basic 1-week courses all the way to full NVQ portfolios, Access Training can help you get trained up to the standard you need. To find out more from one of our course advisers and arrange a tour of training facilities, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

At this point it seems like the Green Deal just can't catch a break. After a humiliating first year it seemed like things were picking up for the Government's flagship energy scheme, but it will now be investigated by Parliament's spending watchdog after it was revealed that a staggering £36 million was spent on the scheme in the last 12 months.

A report from the Independent highlighted some of the spending the scheme made on promotion in February, including:

  • Over £300,000 on "consumer demand, marketing and communications". This included a £100,000 rebranding exercise.
  • £227,000 to a single consultancy company on Green Deal monitoring and evaluation.
  • £20,000's worth of fees to part-time staff helping to run the scheme. This is in addition to the plan's full-time civil servants.

The criticism of the scheme came following the publication of the latest uptake figures for March, released by the DECC last week. While the figures show that there is a rise in households seeking assessments and installing energy-saving measures, the increase perhaps isn't quite enough to have justified this level of spending. The report said that currently 2000 households had plans in progress by the end of March, a slight step up from February's 1754.

Meanwhile 188,234 green assessements were lodged, which is a big increase over the previous month's 25,138. The increase of 163,096 marks the highest number logged and a rise of 40%.

As for Green Deal Plans, 2,000 household were shown to have plans 'in progress'. Five hundred and thirty two were 'new' (quote accepted), 473 were marked as 'pending' (Plan signed) and 995 were 'live' (all measures installed). Of the measures installed, boilers accounted for 30%, followed by photovoltaics (25%), solid wall insulation (17%) and loft insulation (9%).

A spokesperson for the DECC commented saying that the Green Deal was always a "long-term" project that would deliver results "over a long time frame", but that didn't stop detractors from speaking out. House of Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge had this to say:

"It is pathetic when you consider that the Coalition promised to be the greenest government ever yet is spending millions of pounds on a scheme that is not even performing at the margins. Sadly, the Green Deal is looking like it is extremely poor value for money."

Is the Green Deal beyond salvagable at this stage?

It's more good news for the construction industry as the Government begins to move forward with £36 billion of planned infracture investment between 2014 and 2015 - potentially supporting over 150,000 jobs.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osbourne paid a joint visit to a Skansa site yesterday to promote the measure, which will see 200 projects rail, road, local transport, flood defences, broadband, airport infrastructure and waste management start construction. In addition to this, nearly 200 infrastructure projects will see completion this year. The £36bn investment consists of £5bn public money, £21bn in private cash and £10bn in joint investment.

A full list of the projects can be found here.

Cameron said: "Ensuring Britain has first class infrastructure is a crucial part of our long term economic plan: supporting business, creating jobs and providing a better future for hardworking people.

"As a crucial part of our long-term economic plan, this government is backing business with better infrastructure so that more jobs and opportunities are created for hardworking people, meaning more financial security and peace of mind for families.

Osborne added: "Because of the tough decisions we have taken in day to day spending, we can prioritise public investment where it is most needed and create the right conditions for private investment in infrastructure where it brings value for the taxpayer.

“So this year over 200 new projects worth an estimated £36 billion are due to start, creating thousands of jobs, securing future growth and delivering the world class infrastructure Britain deserves."

More jobs means more opportunity, and more opportunity means an even better reason why now is the time to re-train and take up a career in the construction industry. With on ongoing economic boom raising the demand for qualified bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, tilers and more, wages have also reached an all-time high. Some areas in the UK even reported bricklayers earning upwards of £100,000 a year! If you've been looking to for a more challenging and active career, now is the time to take the bull by the horns.

But first you'll need the proper skills and qualifications for the job, something we can help you with here at Access Training. Offering intensive training courses in all of the popular trades, our expertise will guide you through everything you need to know for your brand new career. To find out more and speak to a member of our course advice team please give us a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

Via Construction Enquirer

The amount of news there's been over the past few months concerning the construction industry's boom has been wonderful, and it's great to see that there's still no signs of it slowing down! In fact, leading job recruitment service Reed recently revealed that the number of new jobs in their construction and property section has gone up by an incredible 81% in the last year.

This comes according to the monthly figures for Feb 2014 released by the website, also revealing that this number means three times more vacancies are being posted in this section - totalling in over 10,700 new jobs. Among the most popular are quantity surveyors (1,180 new jobs), site managers (712) and project managers (706).

James Reed, chairman of reed.co.uk, said: "Returning consumer confidence, low interest rates and government-backed initiatives have all helped to invigorate the sector. Related industries, which service and supply Construction are also benefiting. And rising property sales across much of the UK are prompting record job growth in the Estate Agency sector." That said, he also warned of growth being focused on too much of a narrow part of the econmony, cautioning that it could result in a "bursting property bubble".

Still, this fantastic news just proves yet again how much opportunity there is in the construction industry, and why there's no better time than now to take up a career as a bricklayer, carpenter, plasterer or tiler! And the fastest, most effective way to make that goal happen is with an intensive training course from Access Training. At our state-of-the-art training centre, you'll earn the knowledge and skills from experienced teaching staff with a wealth of industry knowledge.

To find out more just give our course advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Trainee and existing tradespeople alike will know there's a lot to remember when it comes to current building regulations. Whether it's having to remember Part P when performing electrical installations or keeping energy efficiency in mind because of Part L, it's a lot to take in. However tradespeople's lives are about to get that little bit easier when it comes to house building, as Communities minister Stephen Williams announced that the current housing regulations were "complicated and confusing" and "ripe for reform".

The proposed changes are a very large scale, reducing the current 100 standards down to a mere 10, with the number of remaining pages of guidance from 1,000 down to less than a hundred. Among the abolished standards are requirements for rainwater harvesting in places that don't suffer from water shortages, requirements for more than one phone line to be installed and requirements for compost bins and secure sheds in gardens.

Another important change is that this new system technical requirements will be solely assessed by building control bodies. Currently work needs to be check by multiple organisations such as the planning authority, a Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor, Homes & Communities Agency as well as the aforementioned building control organisation and various other independent assessors.

Other changes being made to the regulations include:

  • Optional regulations such as water efficiency and wheelchair access that is up to councils whether to apply or not.
  • A single national space standard.
  • A new standard for security in new homes.
  • New energy standards which allow councils to impose locally-set targets for energy efficiency and renewables.

More detailed information is still yet to be revealed, however the news seems to have been received positively by housebuilders across the UK. Head of Residential at construction consultant EC Harris Mark Farmer said that they are "a further step toward improving housing standards and supporting house builders to reduce the national housing shortfall".

We'll provide more detailed news on these changes as they come, but for now it certainly seems like tradespeople will have a little less red tape to deal with when it comes to new house building. If you'd like to join the construction boom and become a professional tradesperson, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about our trades training courses.

Via Construction Enquirer

NICEIC and ELECSA have expressed their concern towards parliamentary recommendations to alter the current-standing electricians' Compentent Persons Scheme system, which if granted would require all domestic electricians to have a qualifications equivalent to an NVQ level 3 within the next five years.

The current system requires simply one person at a firm to be at a Qualified Supervisor level (equivalent to that of an NVQ 3), who is responsible for the final checking of work and signing off that it has been completed in accordance with standards and regulations. However what is now being proposed is that all electricians, from firm employees to self-employed ones, should have this level of qualification. 

This, among other suggestions, have come following a report from the Communities and Local Government Committee stemming from a number of health and safety incidents from the last few years. Among these was the Emma Shaw incident from 2007, where the 22-year-old mother was electrocuted whilst mopping up water from a faulty boiler.

CEO of Certsure (operator of both NICEIC and ELECSA) Emma Shaw spoke out, saying that these measures would place "a huge onus on firms" regardless of size. It is feared costs will be pushed up as apprentices are slowly phased out, causing the electrical industry to suffer in the long term. Clancy also stated;

"The QS system, which Part P is based on, is proven to work and as the committee states in its report has actually pushed domestic electrical installation standards up in recent years."

Certsure stresses that the view that firms are sending out unqualified electricians is unfounded, with electrician firms fully aware of their responsibility and 80% of domestic work carried out by Part P qualified electricians. The question is though - is 80% enough?

However the two groups have welcomed other recommendations made by the report, which include:

  • Calls for an annual limit on the number of jobs that a single QS can review
  • Action from the government to raise public awareness of Part P – similar to that of Gas Safe
  • Proactive enforcement against those who breach Part P and those who work outside of competent person schemes
  • A single register for all Part P electricians covering all schemes

Meanwhile the Committee themselves are fully backing their proposals, with Clive Betts MP arguing that the current system "can brand the incompetent as competent" as homeowners have no guarantee that the electricians turning up at their doors are fully qualified. The commitee also calls into question whether a limited amount of supervisors are "adequately able to check work with such large caseloads".

He concludes; "Under the changes we propose people would know that the electrician working in their home is qualified. If, as scheme operators told us, standards of electricians are already high, then the added criteria will not be too onerous.  

"During the five year transition there should be an annual limit — agreed by the industry — on the maximum number of transactions that a single qualified supervisor can review. This will increase the chance that in the interim unqualified electricians will at least be having their work properly checked by a qualified supervisor."

Read more:

Installer Online

Electrical Contracting News

After a pretty abysmal first year, it's no surprise that the Green Deal - the UK Government's flagship energy saving programme, is going to be going through some much needed changes. After all, you know its bad when even Energy Secretary Ed Davey - one of the men behind the scheme, calls it "clunky", "complex" and "disappointing".

Speaking at the Ecobuild convention that's taken place in London's Excel centre over the last few days, Mr Davey launched a consultation on the changes that will be made to Green Deal sister scheme ECO (Energy Companies Obligation), while at the same time reaffirming that the DECC were about to make some vital changes to the overall programme.

He said that the Government had been looking to "streamline" the Green Deal from very early on, and that the fact changes need to be made after only one year shouldn't be that surprising given "the scale of the ambition". He also added that further incentives for people to sign up would be unveiled in the coming weeks.

The latest figures from January did report that the scheme was beginning to make a comeback, with 1,277 plans in place by the end of the month - 746 of which were completed. However Mr Davey stressed that selling finance plans was not the main aim of the scheme:

"The fact that most people currently having a Green Deal assessment are not then going on to choose Green Deal finance plans shouldn’t actually worry us.

"How people pay for energy efficiency improvements is not after all the main issue. The aim of the Green Deal isn’t to sell credit plans, but to make our homes warmer, cheaper and greener."

It's great to see that the DECC are pushing these Green Deal changes, but is there really that much new info since the last time Ed Davey announced what they would be doing. Hopefully this will be a move that brings the Green Deal into the spotlight, rather than empty promises made during a sudden rise that may not amount to anything. Only time will tell...

Via Building.co.uk

With the discovery that students are being actively discouraged from taking up vocational careers such as work in the construction industry, the CITB are urging companies to take more pro-active measures to ensure that the industry looks more attractive to youngsters.

Their suggestion is for construction firms to start making visits to schools during careers fairs and the like so that they will be in pupils' minds when they are considering what to do once they leave the world of education. Chairman James Wates said that he would like to see 50 employers visit 50 different schools this year, which would "send a powerful message" about the industry and the many opportunities it offers.

"Our industry has to compete with many others for future talent," he said. "We can’t leave this to existing careers advice because we need to reach teachers in order to reach pupils."

Energy suppliers EDF Energy have already begun taking similar measures, working closely with local schools near its planned new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point. They have said they've already reached out to around 35,000 school students in Somerset, creating a variety of exciting activities through a special education programme. EDF have said the results have been "very encouraging", with many students now considering/re-considering a career in the construction industry.

With less youngsters joining the various construction trades and the industry itself experiencing a boom thanks to housing growth and other factors, more certainly needs to be done before the older workforce retires and the industry suffers even more of a skills shortage. Access Training is doing its part to plug the skills gap, offering intensive training courses in a number of construction trades complete with the qualifications required by employers. Our courses are fast-paced, but offer high-quality teaching that easily rivals the longer courses you find at colleges.

For more information please contact our course advice team on 0800 345 7492.

Via Construction Enquirer

The good news for the construction industry just doesn't seem to be stopping, as even more increase in activity has been noted by various reports. If you're about to complete a construction training course and are wondering where your entry into professional work may be, this news in particular may be of interest to you.

The latest from construction data experts Barbour ABI has revealed that house building is proving to be a huge factor in the industry's growth, altogether accounting for over a third of UK construction projects. Another piece of great news that came from it are that construction activity as a whole rose by 59.3% in January in comparison to December 2013. With residential projects accounting for 36% of that total growth, it not only goes to show the great state the industry is in right now but also how Government initiatives such as Help to Buy are providing an additional boost.

For students finishing up their qualifications and about to get into the construction industry, housing provides a wealth of opportunity to all trades. Think about it - bricklayers, carpenters, tilers, plasterers, painter/decorators...they're all needed in order to complete a house. You can even extent it out to the other trades. After all, who's going to fix the electrics, plumbing and gas in that house?

It's easy to just write that something is booming and therefore there's plenty of job prospects, but the evidence keeps on coming in that this is really the case when it comes to construction. Starting a career in the industry now is proving to be a very clever step indeed and here at Access Training Academy we can help you earn the qualifications to make it happen. We take pride in specialising in all of the main construction trades - something not many other centres can offer. Just take a look around our website and you'll see what we have on offer at our state-of-the-art Cardiff training centre,

To find out more about our range of courses, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492.

2014 is already shaping up to be a big year for Access Training Academies, and today (the 13th January) marks the first steps we'll be taking to make your training experience here even better. This year ACS gas assessments will be returning to our Cardiff training centre.

Now students that complete their gas training at Access will be able to complete their Logic ACS (Accredited Certification Scheme) gas assessments here. ACS is the industry recognised and accepted route for students to enter into the gas industry, earning their gas certificate which is needed to become a member of the Gas Safe Register. This itself is a legal requirement to be able to work on all gas installations and appliances in the UK. These assessments will not only be available to those who have completed an extensive gas course here, but is also open to others who may have completed a gas course elsewhere.

Students will be able to complete both the written and practical assessments required to qualify, covering the CCN1 Core Domestic Gas Safety module and then any of the additional appliance assessments relevant to your area of work. This includes the CENWAT (Central Heating Boilers & Water Heaters) qualification, CKR1 (Cookers), HTR1 (Gas Fires) and more. For a full list of what we can offer you here at Access, please get in contact.

To find out more about ACS gas assessments, our plumbing training or any of the many other trades training courses we provide here at Access please get in contact with our course advice team on 0800 345 7492 or via the form provided on this website. They'll be more than happy to answer any further questions you might have, as well as arrange of a tour of our facilities so you can get a first-hand look at what we do.