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

The apparent skills shortage and lack of young people joining the construction sector continues to be a burning issue for the industry, training centres, colleges and awarding bodies alike. Construction productivity has been steadily growing over the past few months and is expected to continue in the next few years, however a significant portion of the existing workforce is set to retire and meanwhile schools seem to be actively discouraging leaving students to take up vocational careers in the industry. These things mixed together sound like a recipe for disaster, so it's no wonder that the CITB have referred to the incoming scenario as a "ticking time bomb". Something needs to be done, and the first port of call is better promotion of apprenticeships and an eventual career in the construction industry to young adults - namely 16-25 year olds. And the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Construction Training Industry Board (CITB) and City & Guilds have all been doing research into how this can be achieved.

To begin, the CIOB and CITB joined forces last month to help produce a cross-party parliamentary enquiry entitled "No more lost generations: Creating construction jobs for young people". The cover of the 23-page report sums up the problem succinctly - Britain has one million NEETs (Not in education, employment or training) aged 16-24, and there are at least 182,000 construction jobs to be filled by 2018. However only 7,280 completed a construction apprenticeship last year - prompting the bodies' to firmly say "We have to do better."

Amongst the full report, which highlights the difficult economic recession the construction industry went through and how its recovery is progressing, a number of different strategies are suggested to solve this very real problem. These include:

  • Improving understanding in schools of the wide variety of careers the construction industry offers. This includes traditional crafts, management and even computer-based modelling.
  • Making it easier for young people to find an appropriate entry route into the industry - whether it be through apprenticeships or qualifications.
  • Ensuring training programmes are better linked to the nature of jobs likely to be available
  • Using the levers available through public-sector procurement and the planning system to require realistic and effective training and employment commitments from employers.
  • Securing greater commitment and buy-in from industry leaders.

The report also put forward a selection of proposed actions to help bring about these improvements, including a training summit between the CITB and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with backing from the Construction Leadership Council. Additional measures suggested included a revitalised apprenticeship strategy, local authorities to leverage planning obligations, more leadership from social landlords and public bodies and finally a step change in the careers advice young people receive.

Meanwhile City & Guilds own research, titled "Building Futures on Shifting Foundations", looked at what skills, education and training was currently required by the construction industry. It took a sample of 344 respondents - made up of 168 senior managers from construction businesses and 176 education providers who deliver qualifications needed to break into the industry. The research was done in relation to Construction 2025, a joint strategy between the Government and Industry that sets out how Britain could be at the forefront of global construction in the future. 

The survey identified that employers do indeed recognise a skills gap when it comes to driving the construction industry forward, with the main skills they felt lacking being:

  • Trade skills - 42% recognising a gap
  • Maths and English - 39% recognising a gap
  • Problem solving - 35% recognising a gap
  • Technical skills - 31% recognising  a gap

Most importantly though the survey revealed although apprenticeships may be the key to fixing the industry's problems, employers aren't utilising this vital role. The survey found:

  • 42% of businesses said that they currently employ no apprentices
  • 40% said apprentices made up less than 1% of their workforce
  • Just over half (56%) said they don't plan to take on any apprentices in the next year
Problems cited by these employers included "funding issues" and "uncertainty around my firm's workload", however a significant proportion (70%) recognised the financial support they could receive by taking on an apprentice. They also questioned respondents on the Richard Review - an independent report issued to review the current apprenticeship system and identify how it can changed to meet the needs of the future economy. While half (49%) admitted that they had not heard of the report before, upon learning more about it 56% agreed it is important for the future of the construction industry. 

For more in-depth detail, read the full reports here:

CIOB/CITB: No More Lost Generations: Creating construction jobs for
young people (PDF)

City & Guilds: Building Futures on Shifting Foundations (PDF)

 

The outlook is currently very bright for the construction industry, however in order for things to work out successfully the path it must take is clear. Official bodies of all different origin agree that young people taking up a career in construction in the key to plugging this skills shortage and ensuring that the construction "boom" really is a boom. Careers in bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, tiling and painting/decorating are not the stereotypical jobs many media outlets portray them to be. As well as the crucial element of skill and technique required by them, these active careers are varied and exciting - with workers citing them as among the happiest of careers as well as enjoying an impressive salary. If academic education doesn't appeal to you or you want to enter a line of work where this is actually a place for you, then a construction career may be just what you're looking for and Access Training is right here to help. We offer intensive training courses in all construction trades, making us one of the most varied training centres in the UK. At our state-of-the-art training centre just on the outskirts of Cardiff city centre you'll be able to learn the vital skills from experienced professionals, earning the necessary qualifications in a fraction of the time you would with a college course - without skimping on any of the quality!

To find out more about what we can offer you here at Access to kickstart your new career in the fastest and most effective way possible, give our advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Although construction productivity is on the rise, its full potential is being held back by a worrying skills shortage across all sectors. With a significant portion of the workforce set to retire over the next few years, more needs to be done to encourage young people to take up construction training courses and join a workforce desperately in need of expansion. And a recent survey from the Edge Foundation has unearthed some rather worrying results...

It found that over a third of students are being actively discouraged from vocational education by schools, being told that they will be more successful if they choose the academic pathway. 22% were even told that they were "too clever" for vocational education. On the parent side of things, only half (51%) encouraged their child's choice to pursue a vocational career as opposed to the 74% that would much prefer to support them through an academic route.

Thankfully the survey did find out some positive results for the construction industry. Those that chose vocational careers were revealed to be just as happy with their choice as those that opted for the academic route, with earnings comparable between the two. 

In response to the survey, Edge Foundation CEO Jan Hodges was disappointed that so few parents and teachers saw vocational education as worthwhile, despite it yielding equal levels of happiness, job satisfaction and financial gain. Pointing out that a skilled workforce is essential to the British economy, she said:

"The stigma attached to vocational learning is old-fashioned and unjust."

At Access Training we agree that the negative stigma attached to joining the construction industry and other vocational careers needs to stop. The benefits of an academic pathway are not as glamorous as they are made out to be, nor are the chances of success. Think about it - if everyone is heading in that direction are there really going to be jobs to support everyone? The answer is obviously no, and this is why more and more graduates are coming out of university and heading straight into office jobs or unemployment. Meanwhile the construction industry is welcoming more new recruits than ever, but there simply aren't enough skilled labourers to fill the gap.

Construction training is not what many people make it out to be - it may rely more on physical skill than academia, but that doesn't mean there isn't an intergral element of theory to it. And this goes for all construction trades - whether it be bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, tiling or even painting and decorating. The same goes for other vocational trades such as electrics, plumbing or gas installation. A trade career can be challenging but ultimately rewarding, providing excellent job satisfaction as well as plenty of reward. Most importantly, what you learn on your trades training course is a skill for life.

Our training courses provide students with all the skills and knowledge they need for a long and prosperous career in the sector of their choosing, along with all of the relevant qualifications needed to be considered qualified by industry bodies. You will be taught in our state-of-the-art centre by industry professionals, each with a number of years' experience in their specific trade. Upon completion, you'll find a world of opportunity and career growth at your fingertips.

So does the academic route really sound that much better? Give Access a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about how a vocational career can change your life!

When it comes to gas fitting, there is nothing more important than safety. Not taking the right precautions can cost people their lives, and installers found guilty of negligence could face manslaughter charges and prison sentences. For an example of just how dangerous gas can be when not properly handled, cast your eyes on the story below.

Two houses were completely destroyed with others damaged yesterday when a gas explosion of currently unknown origin occurred in Clacton, Essex. Thankfully no one was killed in the blast but 10 were injured, with two - a man in his 70s and a woman in her 50s, badly burnt but now in "stable" condition.

Taking place around 8:30am yesterday morning, a total of 10 properties in the street (Cloes Lane) needed to be evacuated along with a further nine in the road behind. Victims were needed to be pulled from the rubble as houses were flattened, with debris blowing across to hit those nearby.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), National Grid and Essex Police/Fire Services will now carry out a full investigation into what caused such a destructive blast. A spokesperson for the National Grid has already said that it did not appear as though there were any faults in the pipes leading up to the three badly damaged houses, however more thorough tests would be carried out once demolition work has been completed. There had also been no mains replacement work done in that area recently, further adding to the mystery of what could have caused it.

Houses were cornered off as a reception centre was set up for those evacuated from their homes. A Facebook group has also been set up to offer support and donations to those who have lost their homes. Access Training wish everyone involved in the disaster a swift recovery and hope that they will be able to return to normality soon.

This is the kind of damage gas negligence can cause. ANYONE dealing with gas pipes at any level should be fully qualified, having undergone the correct gas training course, complete their ACS assessment and joined the Gas Safety register. This is a legal requirement of ALL gas installers and non-compliance is not tolerated. The life of a gas installer can be a challenging, exciting and prosperous one, also one that requires focus, dedication and conscienciousness. Would you want to be the cause of something like this?

Story via BBC News

There's more to being an electrician than simply completing your electrician training course. earning your qualifications and starting work. Another duty is to promote the safe use of electrical appliances and installations, much like the work of charity the Electrical Safety Council. Their latest campaign is calling for retailers and manufacturers to promote awareness after research found hair straighteners are being sold without additional safety devices or information on preventing burns.

Their investigation found that hair straightener burns among children have doubled in recent years, accounting for nearly one in ten burns. It also found that two thirds of parents are not taking the measures to store the appliances away safely. Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of up to 235°C, staying hot for around 15 minutes even after they have been switched off. Many incidents have been caused when toddlers touch, grab or even tread on the hot straightener plates. However it isn't just children who are at risk, as nearly half of all adults surveyed said they have received a burn from a hair appliance before.

However blame does not solely lie with the parents, as the ESC's mystery shoppers investigation also found that none of the high street and online retailers sampled encouraged customers to buy heat proof pouches alongside them. More alarmingly, while most manufactures provided basic safety information with their straighteners, only a third provided any sort of heat proof mat or pouch. Those that were tested varied greatly in quality - with some even smelting once heat was applied.

The ESC are now starting their own hard-hitting campaign to promote awareness and reduce burns among children and adults alike. The campaign, dubbed "Beauty Burns" has already created a powerful video to illustrate the effects of leaving these potentially dangerous appliances unattended around children. The charity will also be giving away free heat proof pouches in an attempt to encourage people to store their hair straighteners properly. To find out more about the campaign, visit its official page at www.esc.org.uk/beautyburns.

ESC spokesperson Emma Apter commented that it was "worrying" these products are being sold without retailers or manufacturers taking reasonable steps to promote safety. She added: "Hair straighteners can cause burns so serious that surgery is required, and children are at even more risk since their skin can be 15 times thinner than that of adults. Retailers and manufacturers must do more to protect their customers."

While most tradespeople are hardworking, honest people, there are always going to be some out there who try to spoil it for everyone else. These "cowboy builders" are the kind that don't complete a trades training course and try to get by on their own knowledge, not only breaking the law but also putting their customers in serious danger. Here's just one example of what happens to people who pretend to be a professional electrician without the relevant qualifications or electrical training course. This foolish contractor has been fined for fraudulently claiming to be registered with certification group NICEIC while at the same time carrying out dangerous electrical work.

David Taylor, trading under the name DT Property Maintenance and Electrical Contractors, was found guilty by Snaresbrook Crown Court of leaving electrical jobs unfinished - making homes unfit for human habitation. This included leaving dangerous electrical rewiring that needed to be put right as well as leaving leaking roof which needed replacing. All instances required other contractors to come in to fix the shoddy workmanship, costing residents in excess of £10,000 in addition to what they had previously paid Mr Taylor.

Action was taken by Hackney Council's Trading Standards, who worked closely with NICEIC to reveal that he was falsely using the NICEIC, Trustmark and Part P logos in his business. Mr Taylor pleaded guilty to 12 separate counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, landing him a sentence of eight months. In addition to this, in November 2013 he had also been found guilty at a trial in Isleworth Crown Court for committing fraud against an employer. This case was brought to court by the Metropolitan Police and resulted in an additional 12 month prison sentence.

NICEIC's CEO Emma Clancy said that the group take misuse of their logo "very seriously and welcome this latest prosecution". She went to on say how the NICEIC logo is associated with quality and it was their duty to protect the honest contractors associated with them. It also sends out the message that anyone found to be misusing the logo will be caught and dealt with appropriately.

After hearing Mr Taylor's story, does working as a cowboy builder and falsely using Competent Persons Scheme/qualification logos sound worth it to you? I thought not. The only way to become an electrician is to do it properly, and that's by completing an electrical training course and EARNING the qualifications properly. From here you will be able to properly join a Competent Persons Scheme and join the ranks of the honest electricians working hard across the country. Our electrician courses here at Access Training will get you well on the way to starting your new career, offering high quality teaching in an unbeatable time frame.

Just give Access Training Academies a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more.

The construction industry continues to gather momentum as surveyors forecast a significant rise in Welsh house building in 2014.

According to research direct from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), up to 79% more surveyors believe workloads are going to increase this year - the highest recorded number since numbers were first recorded 15 years ago. On top of this, 25% more surveyors said work on major building projects had grown in the last three months of last year - the most positive infrastructure figure seen in the last six years.

However it isn't all good news, as the survey also highlights concern over labour and material shortages - two factors that could very easily hold back the recovery.

In Wales alone 24% of surveyors admitted to struggling to recruit the skilled labourers they needed between October and December last year. During these months 40% also claimed that a lack of materials was also a significant problem - only this figure is representative of the whole of the UK rather than just Wales. 

RICS Wales chairman Neil Brierley remains optimistic about the situation though, as he sees this increase in building work across the country as "an excellent opportunity for future job opportunities, provided growth can be sustained". In agreement with the director of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Wales Robert Lloyd Griffiths, who said nine out of ten members in the institute anticipate the growth being stronger than it was last year.

2014 is already proving to be a more perfect time than ever to join the construction trade. Job prospects are higher than ever, and as the industry continues to flourish so will your new career as a bricklayer, carpenter, plasterer or tiler. The construction trade offers many benefits that you might not find elsewhere and/or in your current place of work - better job satisfaction, quality of life, significant earning potential and most importantly JOB SECURITY (something that's even more evident in current circumstances). 

Enrol on one of Access Training Academy's construction training courses and you'll be taught by our experienced teaching staff in a state-of-the-art centre. Our courses are all accredited by leading awarding bodies in the industry and you'll earn a professional level of skill in a fraction of the time a college course would take, along with all of the necessary qualifications.

To find out more about the construction training we have here at Access please view the course information pages on the left hand side of the website or contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

Good news for those about to complete a tiling course and move onto work, a brand new trade association has been formed to represent the interests of all manufacturers involved in the pitched roofing industry.

The Roof Tile Association (or RTA as it will also be known) brings together bodies the Clay Roof Tile Council (CRTC) and the Concrete Tile Manufacturers Association (CTMA). Before these groups had worked in parallel, but this often led to duplication in effort from companies working in both materials. Currently membership includes Dreadnought, Forticrete, Marley Eternit, Redland, Russell and Sandtoft.

Most major players in the tiling industry have agreed that the transition to a single body has been relatively seamless. Both groups had been working closely together for sometime prior to the decision to merge which was decided in early December last year.

The RTA themselves have said that they will be "providing a forum for the industry to work with unprecedented focus on promoting pitched roofs as the natural solution for domestic architecture in the UK." They beliecve that the wide range of knowledge and experience will be invaluable in representing the tiling industry's best interests on both a national and international level.

Via Building Products/Construction Index

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If you would like to join the tiling industry as it begins on this brand new chapter in its life, Access Training Academies provide intensive tiling training courses for those looking to qualify as a professional tiler quickly and effectively. Our tiling courses are devised in association with BAL - the tiling industry's leading provider of wall and floor tiling courses. This special partnership is a sign of our courses' quality - a quality that is unlikely to be beaten elsewhere. To find out more contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

Yesterday we wrote about research suggesting how much work plumbers stand to potentially lose from missed calls. However today pluming suppliers Plumbfix revealed that they are predicting a "social revolution" within the trade.

Tradespeople in general, not just plumbers and heating engineers, are all beginning to see social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a valuable and most importantly FREE way to advertise and create brand awareness. 8 out of 10 tradespeople are already using it as a way to reach more customers and two fifths believe having a page on a social media site will make them look more established. They don't even just use it for reaching customers, as a third of tradesmen even admitted to use it to check on their competitors and what services/prices they are offering.

Plumbfix's research revealed that almost half of tradespeople (48%) are already winning new business through Twitter and the like, and a larger proportion (68%) say their social media activity has increased since this time last year. 

Sandra Everett, the senior marketing manager at Plumbfix, stressed the importance of small businesses getting to grips with social media as members of the public are more likely than ever to go online in search of a tradesperson."As plumbers increase the amount of business tasks and transactions they undertake online, social media should be seriously considered as a cost-effective way to market themselves to more and more customers."

It isn't just tradespeople that are hitting up social media either - trading bodies and contractors are also extending their Twitter and Facebook presence. Even Access Training Academies have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts where any queries concerning our courses can be answered.

Via Installer Online

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