"When I started, I had nothing. I put down my last £200 as a deposit, and I made that decision. You can never go wrong investing in yourself."

- Former plumbing student Leah Carney

Leah training for her new career as a plumber

Starting a new career - retraining and setting up your own business for the first time - is undoubtedly difficult. Not knowing the future can be stressful: will it work out? Am I making the right choice? Is now the right time to be doing this? Many unanswered questions, no firm solutions.

And as much as we might try to convince you that, yes, now is the right time, you might be more inclined to listen to those who have gone through the training process as students. To those who have come out the other side with a sparkling career ahead of them.

Leah Carney is a designer and former delivery driver who enrolled on one of our plumbing courses during the COVID-19 pandemic and never looked back. Our tutor Jamie caught up with Leah to find out how her new career was going.

 

Q: Hi Leah! Thanks for taking the time to speak today, I know you must be busy. How did your decision to retrain first come about?

Well, I was doing some delivery driving just to earn a bit of money, and to get myself through the COVID situation. But before that, I was doing design work - that's what my degree is in. And then I just decided to retrain; in the past, people have told me that I'd be really good at plumbing or gas, just because I'm good with my hands, I'm logical, a good problem solver, that sort of thing.

 

Q: And why Access Training in particular?

I just started googling and doing my research, and came across Access Training that way. I did ring a few places actually, but when I spoke to the team at Access Training, we just kind of got on. I then got invited to come and have a look at the centre and see the training in action, before actually putting any money down.

 

Q: What were your first impressions when you came?

Everything looked really good, everyone was working, and I was really impressed with the plumbing workshop that you've got there. And yeah, that's what made my decision. I signed up that day, there and then, and I think I started about a month and a half later.

 

Q: And the enrolment process was smooth?

Yeah it was, absolutely. Can't fault it.

 

Q: So obviously now you've moved on, and you're getting on with the online learning as well, so you're now able to redo the theory as many times as you want. How are you getting on with that? What sort of flexibility does that give you?

Do you know what? I think the online training is like a godsend. You're in a more relaxed environment, you're at home nine times out of ten, so you've got the time to sit down and fully concentrate. You can take breaks when you need to, you can go over and recap. I like to watch things; seeing things in action helps me to remember them, so if I'm reading something and I don't quite understand or I'm not quite getting it, I like to find a video of someone explaining it, and then I'll understand. So there's that benefit of it as well, because you can stop and start whenever you want.

 

Q: So it hasn't negatively impacted you, doing most of your training online?

No, not at all. You can do mock exams and different papers, and continue to do them until you get it right. Whereas when you're in a class, you only learn it once and then you leave. So again, I really like home-based learning; you still have to put the time in, but it definitely sticks in your mind more. I've enjoyed it.

 

Q: Do you think that helps you, when you come in for your practical training, the fact that your theory base is so much better?

Yes, because I reckon if you were to start with practical - or to sit your practical before your theory - you might get lost, trying to learn everything at once. So I think it's done the right way around. Then, when someone starts to explain more in depth, or uses a word you remember, you're able to ask questions there and then. So it definitely has a benefit.

 

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your training so far? I know you've already done additional training courses to add more strings to your bow. How have you found starting out in the industry, despite everything that's going on?

Fortunately for me, I have got a degree and other skills that I can always use - skills that actually do come in handy with my plumbing, because it is still based around homes and construction. But because I have been upskilling in areas I know will benefit me in the future, it looks good on the CV as well. And I may now be ahead of other people who've been doing it for ten years, because I've actually put my head down and said 'right, I need XYZ kind of trades behind me'. I'm doing my plumbing, and my Level 2 electrics, so that's really come in handy. Now I can apply for jobs that are based more around the Part P side, so I can get a bit more money from that, and I get a bit more hands-on in a different sense.

 

Q: With your new plumbing career, how are you finding it out there at the moment? There's obviously a lot of work around at the moment. Is that the case for you?

Definitely. There's a lot of work. Applying for a job isn't always straightforward, but the plumbing training definitely looks good on my CV. I have found that being a woman also gives me an edge, because I know there aren't many females in plumbing companies. I've found that with all my certificates and qualifications so far, employers are definitely interested. And it's given me the confidence to go out and do my own jobs privately as well.

 

Q: As I understand it, you're currently starting up a business on your own and having the best of both worlds, right? Do you feel like you've made the right decision by retraining and starting a new career?

Yeah, one hundred per cent. Retraining was definitely the best thing I ever did, and it was money well spent. At the time it probably doesn't feel like that, but if you put your head down and have a goal - a vision for where you want to be, and why you're doing it - then there'll be no stopping you. Because of the qualifications and the kind of practice you get with Access Training, you can absolutely go out there and be confident that you know what you're doing. I think especially as the government is pumping money into the trade industry, it looks like there's a long future in upskilling from where I am at the moment.

 

Q: So what's the next step in your career? You said you're moving into electrical work - where do you see that leading?

At the moment, I'm working on my brand, my logo and my website, and designing all of that. Because I have the skills to do it, I'm relying on myself to do all that. So that's the next step, plus maybe doing some emergency and weekend work.

 

Q: That's got to be quite exciting for you - to be developing all that stuff for yourself?

Yeah, it is. I mean, I've never opened a business, and for anyone to start out doing that, it's quite daunting. But I like to do my research and know what I'm doing, and kind of get my feet in there. So it's exciting, and I'm hoping that will kick off in the next couple of months, because I don't think there's a better time to do it than while we're in lockdown. There are more people staying at home, and they're doing more things to their houses, or they've got more time to have someone in to do work. And a lot of people I speak to have struggled to keep a good plumber or find someone they trust. I'd like to think that I have that kind of rapport with people; even if I don't know you, I'm always thinking of the customer and wanting to give the best possible service. I always explain what I'm doing, and that always pays off and works really well.

 

Q: And obviously, there are lots of resources on the Access Training portal to help you do all of that. You have contacts at the centre that you can still use, and your tutors can still help you once you've left.

Yeah, absolutely. I cannot fault anyone from the college at all - any time I've had a question or an email, they've always responded, even if it's a day or two later. They've always been so helpful. All the tutors, including yourself of course Jamie; I speak to Emma and the girls in the office; everyone's been helpful, and everything is transparent. There's nothing you don't know.

 

Q: I suppose the fact that we're still in touch proves your point!

Of course! And the great thing about that is that, if I explain my situation and tell you I need X, Y and Z, you can find a way to help that suits me. That's really been the forefront of it for me, to be honest: the fact that you really get to know the guys at the college. I imagine you go to other training centres, and once you've left, they think they don't need to know you. But with you guys, it's been a long time since I finished, and we're still in contact, as you say. I've come back now to do my electrical training and things like that - that's thanks to you guys.

 

Q: Finally, what kind of advice would you give to someone else looking to change careers right now - someone who's stuck in a rut? They might be on furlough or something, so how would they go about retraining?

I know there are people out there facing a really bad situation, and when I was looking to retrain, I was too. But I took the risk. I knew what I needed to do, and when I went with you guys, I used the last money I had to do it - and it was so worth it. All of you were so accommodating; if there were ever any issues, you guys helped. So my advice for anyone out there who's thinking about it is this: you just need to take that leap and do it. It's investing in yourself. You can never go wrong investing in yourself. Before you know it, if you put your head down, you could be ready to start before you realise.

 

Q: Thank you so much for your time, Leah, and best of luck for the future!

Thank you for everything!

* * *

And there you have it. You don't need to take our word for it - just look at Leah as an example of how retraining can change your life.

Browse Plumbing Courses

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

According to PHAM News, plumbers pay has stabilised in 2020 with Hudson Contract reporting that plumber earnings are currently at £47,000 per year.

 

Self-employed plumbers have earned an average of £976 a week last month – the equivalent of a £47,000 annual salary – according to Hudson Contracts, the construction industry’s biggest payer of subcontractors. Plus they also said that earnings in October 2020 were above levels achieved between April and June this year.

The levels earned by plumbers contracting in Wales saw the strongest growth in October with an increase of 9.4%. Plumbers earnings in the north of England, namely Yorkshire and Humber, neared 12.5% and in the East Midlands earrings rose by 5.3%.  

 PHAM News quoted Ian Anfield, MD of Hudson, commenting on earnings for plumbers, 

 

“Our clients are telling us they have full order books and that demand for skilled trades continues to outstrip supply. Our clients say it will be business as usual up to Christmas…’

 

This is obviously good news given the gloomy scenario many are facing in other sectors right now as the economy falters in many areas. As a career changer with the possibility of becoming an independent contractor, the future could be bright if you choose plumbing as a career. At Access Training, we are always striving to provide you with the professional level of training, knowledge and skills needed to become a skilled plumber allowing you the opportunity to take advantage of this growth in earrings.

To find out how to become professionally certified in a trade such as plumbing or to simply discuss the career options available to you, call us today.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

City & Guilds and EAL logos

NVQ Level 2 (called an SVQ 2 in Scotland) is the qualification every plumber ultimately needs. Because it is assessed in the workplace and not in the classroom, it proves your competence and is based on your practical skills.

In order to gain this qualification, you will first need to achieve the Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing, as some fundamental practical skills and a basic prior knowledge of plumbing systems are required. Completing the Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing demonstrates that you have learned and retained the core skills required to become a plumber (you will receive a certificate as proof of this).

You will then need to go out into the workplace, where you will be assessed on various jobs that meet the specific criteria needed to gain your NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing.

So there are two qualifications you'll need to become a plumber...

 

Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing

  • Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing Studies (City & Guilds 6035-02)

Level 2 will equip you with the relevant plumbing and heating knowledge and skills. Once you've got this qualification under your belt, you can carry out plumbing tasks - but you may have to be supervised depending on the task.

 

NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing

There are two choices for your NVQ:

  • NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing and Heating
  • NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Installing and Maintaining Domestic Heating Systems

Both of these options comprise mandatory units, including:

  • Understand and carry out safe working practices in building services engineering
  • Understand and apply domestic hot water system installation and maintenance
  • Understand and apply domestic above-ground drainage system installation and maintenance techniques
  • Install and maintain domestic heating systems

 

Are City & Guilds plumbing qualifications the best ones to have?

1878: City of London Corporation and 16 livery companies - the trade guilds - established The City and Guilds of London Institute to develop a national system of technical education. They were granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in 1900.

City & Guilds plumbing qualifications have always been the traditional route for plumbers to become qualified, and to this day, they are still recognised internationally. NVQ qualifications were introduced after this, so the qualifications that plumbers attain nowadays are NVQs - which can be provided by awarding organisations other than City & Guilds (such as EAL, who offer plumbing courses at the same level).

Browse Plumbing Courses

These courses come under the title of BSE (Business Services Engineering) and therefore include an understanding and application of:

  • Safe working practices
  • Communicating with others
  • Environmental protection measures
  • Scientific principles
  • Site preparation and pipework fabrication techniques
  • Cold and hot domestic water system installation and maintenance techniques
  • Central heating system installation and maintenance techniques

The assessments for NVQ Level 2 form part of the programme, along with practical and theory exams. These take place in a training centre as part of the plumbing course.

You will also have to submit a portfolio of work and pass performance assessments in your workplace to demonstrate your skills.

Call 0800 345 7492 and talk to us today to find out more about our plumbing courses.

Recommended Course: Professional Plumbing Course

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

After an intensive three-day practical, promising young plumber, Connor Cruden, has been named the SkillPLUMB champion for 2019 at the WorldSkills UK LIVE event in Birmingham.

Runners up included 21-year-old Kyle McGeoghie of Perth College UHI and 22-year-old Anthony Iacovazzo of City College Norwich, who achieved second and third place respectively.

 

trophies, skillplumb champion

 

Boiling Point

While the plumbing trade probably isn’t the first industry that springs to mind when you think of awards, honours and prizes, it’s that fact that makes the SkillPLUMB gong all the more prestigious in the world of professional plumbing.

Primarily aimed at apprentices and young tradespeople, finalists were tasked with completing a number of tricky practical assessments in order to test their skills and separate the best from the rest.

As part of the final trial, contestants were asked to install a sealed domestic central heating system with expansion vessel, pump and ancillary equipment. This included a radiator, unvented hot water cylinder and a boiler, along with the relevant copper pipework.

To further add to the intense pressure of this demanding task, all of this was to be completed under strict time constraints and ultimately scrutinised by expert judges against a challenging criterion.

Beating out competition from other regional finalists, Cruden will now be given the opportunity to compete in the Grundfos Installer Championship in Milan in March of next year.

 

Role Models

In addition to booking his place in the 2020 Grundfos Installer Championship in Italy, Cruden’s win also puts him into contention to be part of Team UK at the global WorldSkills 2021 competition in Shanghai, China.

Following the triumph, Cruden had these words to say:

“The competition has been brilliant and I am really proud to be leaving with the gold medal. It was really challenging working under pressure but I just did my best.”

Chairman of the British Plumbing Employers Council also spoke of the victory:

“The standard of work this year has been exceptional. The finalists are all excellent ambassadors for the industry and brilliant role models for other young people who are considering a plumbing career.”

 

Become a World-Class Plumber with Access Training UK

While such an achievement may seem out of reach for anyone thinking of entering the world of plumbing, it’s important to remember that every journey begins with that single first step.

At Access Training UK, we can help you achieve that first step and help you come on leaps and bounds with our wide variety of plumbing courses.

Whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced pro looking to add to your repertoire of skills, Access Training UK has the plumbing course for you.

Read on for a quick rundown of the various plumbing courses we have on offer at ATUK:

 

Essential Plumbing Course

Learn the basics needed to become a domestic plumber (no experience required).

 

Professional Plumbing Course

A comprehensive course to become a fully-qualified plumber (no experience required).

 

Premier Plumbing Course

Combined course allowing you to earn plumbing and gas qualifications simultaneously (no experience required).

 

Bathroom Fitting Course

This course will equip you with all the skills and knowledge needed to install bathrooms (no experience required).

 

Unvented Hot Water Storage Systems

If you’re already a plumber or heating engineer, this course teaches you how to install and maintain unvented hot water storage systems

 

WRAS - Water Regulations Advisory Scheme

Completion of this course provides you with ‘approved contractor’ status by your local water authority- a pre-requisite for many employers.

 

NVQ Level 2 Certification – For Experienced Site Plumbers

This fast-track NVQ programme is designed for experienced plumbers looking to gain NVQ Level 2 Diploma quickly with minimal fuss.

 

For more information on any of the plumbing training courses available at Access Training UK, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 0800 345 7492 or click the button below to get in touch online.

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Research conducted by the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme has uncovered some startling statistics that could land the UK in deep water.

 

leaking tap, water wastage 

 

Leaking Information

According to the WRAS survey, over a quarter of Brits would wait over a week to fix a dripping tap, equating to almost 170 litres of water.

Meanwhile, over a fifth of all Brits would wait more than four days to address a leaking toilet, with the collective potential to waste between 215 and 400 litres a day, with a median of 72 litres per toilet a day.

Not only can this unnecessary water wastage see your water bills creep up needlessly, it can also have a potentially damaging effect on the population and the environment.

 

Down the Pan

It’s estimated that the UK wastes approximately 400 million litres of water every day as a result of leaking toilets. To put that into context, that’s enough to cover Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool combined.

Naturally, the sheer scale of this wastage is a concerning issue, made all the more concerning following Defra’s recent findings on population density.

 

Environmental Impact

According to Defra, the population density in the UK means that there is less available water per person than in many Mediterranean countries. As a result, effectively managing the water supply is all the more vital.

WRAS Managing Director, Julie Spinks, had this to say:

“We all have a duty to use water more wisely and consider the impact we have on the environment. When a plumbing problem first arises, a quick call to a local approved plumber can not only give you peace of mind but also help ease the burden on the environment.”

 

A Quick Fix

According to Waterwise, around 70% of leaking toilets can be fixed by a plumber on the very first visit, saving a considerable amount of water if caught early on.

Waterwise has made their stance on water wastage and unfixed leaks well-documented, once again highlighting the importance of plumbing maintenance in the home.

With a national campaign planned to raise awareness of water wastage, the already high value of plumbing professionals only looks to get stronger as the years progress, making it a safe and lucrative trade to become a part of.

 

Plumbing Training

If you’re looking to enter the plumbing trade, Access Training UK has a whole host of courses available to help you get started.

Meanwhile, we also have a range of courses specifically designed for existing plumbers to help more experienced tradesmen and women grow and progress on their professional journeys.

Check out the plumbing courses below to see the full list of what we have on offer at Access Training UK:

 

For more information on plumber courses and plumbing training at Access Training UK, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 0800 345 7492 or get in touch online by clicking the link below.

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