After many months of the Green Deal with very little success, the Department of Energy & Climate Change have announced that they will begin introducing new measures at the beginning of 2014 to make it more straightforward and less time consuming for both tradespeople and consumers alike.

In the eight months the Government's flagship energy policy has been running, a mere 12 homes have had measures put in place - although it is reported several thousand are waiting for applications to be processed after having home assessments carried out.

The DECC plans to open up access to energy performance certificate (EPC) data so companies can then have better focus on how they market the scheme. It also plans to add more home improvement measures to the list that is covered by the Deal, while allowing more flexibility over the exact specifications companies must install to. A new, improved website will also be set up to increase consumer interest.

Finally there are also plans to work with the Green Deal Finance Company to make it possible for customers to go from a quote to a plan in a single day, removing the need for different people to make separate visits to homes as an application is processed.

The DECC will roll out some of these changes in January, however some require Paraliamentary approval to ammend the legislation and so will be coming in later months.

 

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.

Now might just be the perfect time to make that career change and begin your construction training! Following on from the predictions that the construction industry will see a boom over the next four years, new survey results for quarter 3 2013 have found that the trade's recovery is well on the way.Construction Image

The construction trade survey, compiled by the Construction Products Association using data from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Products Association, Federation of Master Builders, National Federation of Builders, National Specialist Contractors Council and the UK Contractors Group, found that activity rose for the second consecutive quarter. This growth came from across all areas of the industry with even more anticipated in the next 12 months.

After five years of difficult conditions for the construction industry, optimism is now rising as building contractors were reported to be the most positive since pre-recession 2007. 30% of specialist contactors reported that enquiries for new work rose this quarter, as well as 30% of civil engineering firms reporting a rise in order books.

However despite this it isn't all good news just yet. Rising costs are becoming a key issue, with manufacturers reporting that costs have risen over the last year. As well as citing wages as the key factor, the rising price of fuel, energy and raw materials are also responsible.

PlastererThere are two trades in particular that have had recruitment trouble - both of which we offer courses for here at Access. 34% of of firms reported difficulty recruiting bricklayers, while 32% also had a problem with plasterers. Both of these are the highest levels of difficulty reported since 2008, so those who may be considering plastering training or bricklaying courses have a clear gap in the market ahead of them. You can read more about the plastering and bricklaying courses we offer on the website.

Other key findings of the quarter three survey were:

  • 43% of building contractors, on balance, stated that activity rose in Q3, the second highest balance since 2007
  • Private new housing was the key driver of construction growth in Q3 with 22% of contractors, on balance, reporting that activity rose in Q3 compared with a year ago
  • Building contractor new orders reached their highest level since 2007
  • The most positive sector for new orders was public non-housing, which primarily covers education and health, with a balance of 9%
  • 49% of building contractors reported that costs rose in Q3, with labour costs and materials costs both contributing to the rise
  • A balance of 4% of building contractors reported that tender prices rose in Q3; however, with costs also rising, a balance of 11% reported that profit margins had continued to fall.

More information can be found via The Construction Index

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If you would like to find out more about the construction training courses we offer here at Access, which including carpentry, tiling and painting & decorating as well as the aforementioned brickwork and plastering, please get in contact with us on 0800345 7492 and our course advisers will be happy to tell you more. With a variety of flexible courses that will give you the necessary construction qualifications, Access Training is the best method to get the required skills fast without skimping on any of the quality.

A warning to homeowners of the risks involved in do-it-yourself electrical installations.

Napoleon once referred to Britain as 'a nation of shopkeepers'. Probably not true in modern society, but we still certainly a nation of something - do-it-yourselfers.

More and more people are willing to have a go at things they may have once thought impossible, taking regular visits to the local DIY shop to get parts for little jobs here and there or even working toward bigger projects such as renovating a room or building a conservatory. However, when it comes to plumbing, gas and electrical jobs, such concerns are better left to the professionals. Meaning those certified to carry out the work.

Jobs for an electrician

A homeowner can legally undertake basic electrical jobs themselves, such as installing an additional socket/light or connecting a cooker to an existing connection unit, but not much more than that. Anything more complicated like installing a new shower circuit or a new cooker circuit, legally requires a qualified electrician. If you have any DIY plans that require electrical work, it's always best to check what you are legally able to do before starting.

If you have any doubts on the legality or your capability to do the job safely in the first place, do NOT attempt it yourself and instead seek out the help of a qualified professional. Not only will you be ensuring that the job is done safely and properly, but you'll be saving yourself money in the long run. Hiring an electrician to fix a botched job usually ends up costing more than getting one out to do the job in the first place.

Building Regulations

District councils have responsibility for ensuring that any building works meet the national Building Regulations for efficiency, safety, design and disabled access. Building Regulations must be obtained from the local council before any structural alteration is made to a home. Such regulations are easier to obtain if the homeowner can prove they are going to be using a qualified electrician to undertake the work.

Part P qualified

A Part P qualified electrician is one who is able to sign off their own work in domestic properties. If they aren't qualified, then they'll have to approach the local authority building control to approve their work. This is something that all homeowners should bear in mind when they are looking to hire a qualified electrician.

Risks

It doesn't take much for electricity to kill. Forget numbers like 10,000 volts, the 230 volt domestic supply running through your home is more than enough. Our bodies use electrical signals to control our organs and any excess voltage will interfere with these, causing hearts and lungs to stop functioning and eventually death. Poorly installed electrics can very easily also start fires, resulting in home owners losing everything when their houses are burnt to the ground because of some faulty wiring. And if that work goes against building regulations, you may find the property is not insured and the insurance company is not legally obliged to reimburse them. On average, around 30 people die each year due to low voltage electrocutions and electrical burns. In addition, two and a half million people will receive a mains voltage electric shock every year, and 350,000 will receive a serious injury. Another 46 will die each year as an indirect result of faulty electrical wiring or the poor installation of electrical equipment.

Differing standards

The majority of contractors in the UK are reliable and are certified as such. To become a qualified electrician takes between three and five years of study. Some contractors may however pass themselves off as qualified, citing qualifications obtained in other EU countries. However, the standards in wiring differs across both the EU and the rest of the world, so what qualifies as a qualified electrician in one country is unlikely to be anywhere near the standard required in the UK.

Registers

To find an electrical contractor to undertake domestic tasks, the best place to start is often a register such as the Electrical Safety Register at www.electricalsafetyregister.com. Electricians who register with the Electrical Safety Register must meet a very high industry standard, which means that consumers who use an ESR registered contractor are guaranteed an exceptionally high standard of work. In addition, all work carried out by Electrical Safety Register contractors is guaranteed. Any deficiencies in the work carried out are resolved at no extra cost.

Kick out the Cowboys

Electricians with fake qualifications performing sub-standard work is a continuing problem in Britain. Despite their poor (and often dangerous) results, such workmen still expect to be paid for their work and can get heavy handed if refused, especially against the vulnerable. 
In an effort to show up shoddy workmanship, electrical wholesalers Gil-Lec has set up a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #KickOutCowboys. Anyone who provided poor electrical work can be named and shamed via the Twitter campaign. Twitter users are encouraged to post photographs of poor electrical work, coupled with the name of the individual or company who performed the work.

Via Electrical Contracting News

- Mark Jenkins

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Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Specialist recruiter Randstad CPE has published new research that shows construction professionals are among the most fulfilled workers in the UK.

In a poll of 2000 workers from a wide variety of industries, it was found that the IT sector and similar ones such as human resources, legal and marketing had the highest level of professional fulfillment at 73%, but construction was following closely at 66%. In addition to this 13% of UK workers said said were unfulfilled in the workplace, as opposed to just 12% in construction alone.

This is rather impressive for an industry that has been struggling in recent years, and is finally seeing a turnout with a boom predicted over the next four years.

Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad CPE, said: "Improving levels of fulfilment further represents a massive opportunity for the sector. With higher professional fulfilment comes lower absenteeism and lower staff turnover."

The research also found that professional fulfillment is highest among those at either the start or end of their careers. 67% of 18 to 24 year olds feel fulfilled, along with 66% of those aged 55 and above.This then diminishes during the middle of people’s careers – the lowest proportion of those who feel fulfilled at work was among those aged 35 to 44 (57%).

"There are huge rewards in terms of fulfilment from keeping on older construction professionals, quite apart from the advantages of continuity and expertise," continued Goodhead. "But we also need to make sure we get plenty of young blood into the profession. At the moment, that's not happening. There's been a 20% growth in the construction workforce since the early 1990s, but that expansion has been uneven across different age groups.

"A major concern is the lack of young entrants into an ageing workforce, with numbers of workers aged 60 and over in the industry having doubled in recent years, while the number of those aged 24 and under has fallen by 27%. While the increasing age profile is most pronounced in the manual workforce, professional trades such as architecture, mechanical and civil engineering could also lose 20% of their manpower to retirement in the next 10 years, so the need for new, younger blood is pressing. If the sector continues to rely disproportionately on the middle-aged, there will be consequences. Our research shows a mid-career crisis is a very real phenomenon."

The research also reveals that women are more likely to be professionally fulfilled than men (17% versus 16%).

Goodhead added: "I don’t think it’s unfair to say construction is not renowned for its gender diversity – approximately 88% of construction project managers and related professionals are men. Our research suggests the gender imbalance may be holding the sector back and dragging professional fulfilment down – despite the fact the sector’s still more satisfied than average.

"To attract more women, the industry needs to offer flexible employment and provide working conditions that suit women. Out goes a culture of long hours, presenteeism and machismo – in comes more part-time employment and a greater attention to work-life balance."

The research was carried out as part of a wider study showing the fulfilment levels of Britain’s workers compared to the rest of Europe and the English-speaking world. Approximately 45,000 employees from the UK were interviewed as well as Britain’s English-speaking and European peers over the course of three years for its Fulfilment@Work report. The findings showed that British workers have had the lowest scores in nine out of the past 13 quarters when compared to European peers, including France and Germany, and nine out of the last 11 quarters when compared to English-speaking countries including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Randstad has launched a campaign named How I Became, inspired by the real stories of real people who are fulfilled at work. A web hub contains films from people who work in a range of business sectors, providing key pieces of advice designed to help future candidates on their path to professional fulfilment.

Via HVP Magazine

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Feeling unfuilfilled in the workplace? Looking for a more physical and/or rewarding line of work? Have you considered changing careers for a fresh start in the construction industry? Here at Access Training Academies we provide high-quality intensive construction training in various trades (including bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, tiling and painting & decorating) to get you the skills and qualifications you need for a long and fulfilling career. To find out more contact our sales team on 0800 345 7492.

Via Construction Enquirer

Towards the end of September we wrote up a post revealing some of the horrific conditions the Health & Safety Executive had found construction sites in, and now they have returned with even more shocking images of what some workers are subject to.

The HSE are still compiling the final results of their tour across UK building sites (which ran over the course of September), but their initial figures have ALREADY shown that nearly half the sites they visited had some sort of serious safety failing.

This alarmingly high rate has promoted the Unite union to call for increased funding in order for the HSE to carry out more site inspections.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The HSE's spot checks throughout September are proof that the Executive needs more capacity and funding.

"The extent of the breaches uncovered also shows why trade union health and safety committees are so important in the construction industry and why we need more.

"The ending of the spot checks will be manna from heaven for the worst employers and unfair to employers who work with unions to get it right. The government’s attack on health and safety must be reversed."

Below is the latest batch of pictures released by the HSE:

Wheeled scaffolding precariously balanced at this site.

This site seems to have absolutely no regard for electrical safety.

Would you use this ladder at the top of a four lift scaffold?

I would hardly call this support adequate.

A new survey from the Chartered Institute of Building has suggested that many construction professionals feel that corruption is commonplace in the industry, with many being offered bribes or incentives during their time.

The survey used a sample of 700 construction professionals and aimed to investigate whether corruption is considered to be a problem in the UK, exactly what practices were considered "corrupt" and which areas were particularly susceptible to them. The sample included over 300 senior managers and directors, with more than one in three (35%) admitted to have being offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion. Nearly 38% had come across cartel activity at least once and of those, 29% have witnessed it within the last 12 months.

They placed the blame on squeezed tender margins and reduced workloads, which were resulting in pressuring professionals into corrupt practices in order to stay afloat.

The rest of the main statistics from the survey have been listed below:

  • 49% of respondents believe corruption is common within the UK construction industry, just 2% fewer than the first survey published in 2006.
  • Cultural (27%) and economic (23%) are cited as the main reasons for corruption.
  • Cover pricing is seen to not be corrupt by 20% of respondents. Although, predominantly other adverse practices linked to the construction industry are seen to be corrupt (billing for unperformed work, collusion and cartel activity).
  • 67% indicate that the use of gifts and corporate hospitality can be treated as bribery.
  • 43% suggest that all the stages of the ‘construction process’ are susceptible to corruption. 35% specify that the pre-qualification and tendering phase is the most at risk.
  • Over a third said they have encountered cartel activity in the UK construction industry. Of those, 29% said it was in the last 12 months.
  • 35% of respondents have been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.
  • 40% do not know if their company has a whistle-blowing policy. 54% indicated that they are aware and only 7% said that they have used it.
  • Respondents acknowledge that the UK construction industry (50%) and the UK Government (55%) are not doing enough to prevent and tackle corruption.

Graham Hand, Coordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Forum, said "This valuable report shows that despite the introduction of a tough new Bribery Act in 2010, corruption is still common in the construction business in this country.

"That is unacceptable. The law enforcement agencies need to work with the professional and business organisations to educate companies about their responsibilities, and they must act against companies that break the law."

CIOB Deputy Chief Executive Michael Brown added that measures such as the Bribery Act had a limited effect, with no prosecutions against businesses taking place. "If the UK is going to live up to its rhetoric of being tough on corruption, both the Government and industry must do more to show proof of progress," he remarked.

Via Construction Enquirer

Via Tilezine

The Tile Association have warned retailers to stay alert of a credit card scam that last affected tilers back in 2010.

Like before, the scammer will phone up as a customer to place an order for Quartz tiles worth around £3,000. They will say that they do not live locally and are unable to visit the store, and therefore pay for the tiles using a credit card. The payment will be successfully processed and the tiles themselves will either be collected by a courier or delivered to a local address.

Weeks later, the card issuer recalls the payment after being told by the holder that it is an unauthorised/fraudulent payment. The retailer will then discover when they try to retrieve them that the tiles are gone, leaving them with a larger cost to cover.

Phil Reid, Association Executive for The Tile Association, warns retailers "Please be wary of taking large value credit card payments over the phone, this method of payment is not considered secure by the banks and you face the risk of not being insured against the loss, especially if the delivery address is different to the registered address of the card. Insisting that the customer visits the store to pay for the goods via the 'chip and pin' system or via a BACS transfer, if they are unable to visit your store, gives you protection from the banks recovering the payment without your knowledge or consent."

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If you're a keen DIY tiler thinking of turning professional or would like to begin your tradesperson journey with this avenue of the construction industry, an Access Training course will provide you with everything you need for a happy and properous career. With a state-of-the-art training centre, experienced staff and a course providing you with all the necessary qualifications for employment, you're unlikely to find a better alternative elsewhere. To find out more about our tiling courses or any of the other trades training courses we offer, have a chat with one of our course advisers by calling 0800 345 7492.

The Construction Industry Training Board has issued a serious warning to the UK constructor sector, reminding them that it faces a skills "time bomb" if it fails to find new workers before potentially 400,000 people retire in the next five to ten years.

The new labour market research, published by the Office of National Statistics, breaks the information collected down into the following main points:

  • 19% of UK construction workers aged 55+ (equivalent of 406,000 people) are set to retire in the next five to ten years
  • 24% of workers aged 45-54 (518,000) will then subsequently be retiring in the next ten to twenty years
  • 37% of the UK construction workforce is self-employed, and 23% (182,800) of those are also set to retire in five to ten years

With these huge numbers in mind, the research also noted which areas would be affected more than others. The East Midlands and South West would particularly suffer, with 22% of workers (that's 31,900 and 39,500 for each place respectively) set to leave. On the other hand Greater London, which holds the largest number of construction workers in the UK at 318,000 people, is estimated to not take the hit quite so hard. There only 12% (38,500) are expected to leave. Meanwhile in Scotland and Wales, the number is set to be similar to the total number of people retiring in the North East and South West of England - which is round about 56,000 people.

When you consider all of this, its unsurprising that UK construction was found to have a higher age profile than many other UK industries (19% are set to retire in comparison to the rest's 17%). To combat this, the CITB is encouraging employers to look at recruiting more and more young people, many of whom will have only just received their GCSE or A-Level results and be considering their next steps.

CITB Interim Chief Executive William Burton said: "Almost one in five workers are set to retire from the construction industry over the next five to ten years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry or invest in the training to up-skill our existing workforce, is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for growth and, to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now."

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If you've just finished school and looking for a more physical alternative to office work or college/university, have you considered a career in the construction industry? With demand constantly growing for young skilled workers, you're unlikely to find yourself short of work and doing a job with plenty of variety. But first you'll need the right qualifications, which you can find on an Access Academies professional training course. At our state-of-the-art Cardiff training centre you can find bricklaying, plastering, carpentry and tiling training all under one roof, complete with experienced tutors and the qualifications you need to make it in the industry. To find out more and book your place just give our advisers a call on 0800 345 7492.

Construction sites across the UK will be open to the public for viewing this weekend as part of the UK Contractor's Group (UKCG)'s second Open Doors Weekend.

So far more than 3,000 people have signed up for the event, which takes place on Friday and Saturday. At the sites they will be given a closer look at what takes place on a building site, as well as learn of the things that go on behind the scenes. A wide range of different projects are open, including Hotel Football at Old Trafford, a Technology Centre where new contruction techniques are tested and one creating new lanes on the M25.

UKCG Director Stephen Ratcliffe said: "With Open Doors just a few days away we are pleased so many people are taking part.

"In particular, construction needs more young people entering our industry, and the weekend is an opportunity to tell the story of what a career in a modern and vibrant construction industry looks like.

"It is not about 'dirt and bricks', but an industry that is at the forefront of innovation, new technologies and creating iconic projects."

To find out more about the Open Doors Weekend and book your place, visit the official website at www.opendoorsweekend.co.uk.

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Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Academies training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.

Via Construction Enquirer

We mentioned earlier this month that the Health & Safety executive would be taking a tour of building sites across the UK to catch out any that had "less than adequate" facilities. No more than a few weeks later, their inspections have produced some rather shocking results.

So far their tour, which runs from the 2nd September until the 27th, has revealed that nearly half the sites they have visited have some sort of safety failings. Out of a total of 1000 sites, that's a very high number. Many of them had also been issued with enforcement notices.

 UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians) General Secretary Steve Murphy said: "These figures demonstrate the dangers faced by construction workers on a daily basis.

"While these initiatives by the HSE are very welcome, inspectors are only visiting a small percentage of all the construction sites in the country.

"These findings demonstrate why the HSE needs more resources to conduct this type of inspection in all parts of the country throughout the year."

Below you can see some pictures of some of the sites they visited:

A prohibition noticed was served on this extension work after exposed scaffolding was found, putting workers at risk from falling through on to the building works.

 

An improvement notice was served here as site management fell below safe standards.

 

Unsafe excavation work here led to a Prohibition notice.

 

Is this the kind of hygiene facilities you should be finding on a construction site?

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Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Academies training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.

 

Back in the beginning of August we wrote a post about the forthcoming Gas Safety week, which was set to kick off between the 16th and 22nd of September. Well time has flown since then, and its now only three more days until the week-long awareness campaign gets underway!

Set up by the Gas Safe Register, this week will see all areas of the gas industry - manufacturers, retailers, training companies, consumer bodies and even the public, make a special effort to inform about the importance of proper gas safety and the dangers from not taking proper care. So far of 2500 different people (including Access Training) have pledged their support toward the cause, and there's still plenty of time for you to do the same! Simply visit the website and sign up to pledge your support, and following that you'll be sent a supporter's kit to give you some ideas of what you can do in your area.

 

What is the Gas Safe Register?

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. It replaced CORGI.

Registering with Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out gas work in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey. For more information and to register email register@gassaferegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5577.

 

How to find an engineer

To make sure that gas appliances such as boilers, fires, ovens and hobs are fitted, fixed and serviced safely, only a Gas Safe registered engineer should carry out the work. If someone other than a Gas Safe registered engineer undertakes gas work, they are breaking the law and could put lives at risk.

To prove they are legally permitted to work on gas, all Gas Safe registered engineers have an ID card with their own unique licence number and a photograph. Those in the building industry must always check that engineers contracted to undertake gas work are on the Gas Safe Register.

To find or check an engineer go to www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.

 

Access Training will begin a week long look at gas safety in our blogs, and may even throw in a few special offers for all budding gas engineers too. Gas Safety is an extremely important concern to us, and it is not something that should be taken lightly. Download your supporter's kit today and help spread the word of Gas Safety! 

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