While we try to give you as much practical and theoretical knowledge as we can on your plumbing training course, there are some things that plumbing courses can't teach. You could have all the skills you need for a successful business, but something as little as missing a few phonecalls can cost you.

In fact, research from new business-orientated phone service everreach has estimated that plumbers are potentially losing around £500's worth of business a week due to missed phone calls. The survey, entitled "Running Your Small Business Better", looked at all the issues missed calls could cause - from loss of revenue to more personal elements such as what extent out of hours work calls might impact on time with the family.

Looking at cost, the survey found that more often than not tradespeople didn't have a dedicated landline business number. With the trade being one that gets you out and about a lot, 87% of respondents use a mobile as their main business number. The survery itself wasn't specifically aimed at plumbers, however they were top when it comes to receiving the hightest number of calls for new work. It also revealed that with plumbers losing around £500 worth of business every week, the yearly total of lost income is a shocking £26,000.

Moving onto how calls affect working time, over a quarter of tradesmen surveyed said they can't switch their phones off at home as they frequently have to take work calls. 60% said either their partner/children have accidentally answered their work calls in the past, while 21% admitted to accidentally deleting a voicemail themselves before listening to it or taking the number down. A final element looked into was the risks some trademen will take when answering calls, with four out of five admitting that they would be tempted to answer the phone while in an "unsafe situation". Examples of this included while working up a ladder or lifting heavy objects.

"Missed calls mean missed revenue opportunities," said Nick Mullen, chief executive officer of everreach. "The figures equate to hundreds of thousands of pounds in potentially lost revenue just in relation to the plumbers covered by our survey." So once you've finished your plumbing training and are about to start your new life as a self-employed plumber, remember to keep those words in mind. While no tradesperson should be expected to be readily available for phonecalls are every waking hour, working out the best compromise to ensure the minimal amount of business lost is essential to making the most of your new career.

Via HVP Mag

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.

An ex All-Black and Cardiff Blues captain, former rugby player Xavier Rush is currently training here at Access Training after retiring from sports and deciding to earn the qualifications to start a new career in property development. After completing an intenstive kitchen fitting course, he has decided to continue his training and earn additional qualifications in electrics and plumbing. We caught up with him again as he progressed through the professional electrician's course to see how he's getting on with starting his new life...

Xavier Rush hard at workSo how has your electrical training been going so far?

Busy, very busy! But good – I’ve been doing my Part P and 17th Edition, had an exam yesterday which I passed so I’m very happy about that. I wasn’t looking forward to doing a resit on Friday so I’m glad I’ve managed to avoid that. But it’s an intense course this one, and you don’t have much time to muck around. It’s intense, but its short and you get a lot of information which is great.

How have you found the balance between theory and practical learning?

You’re getting a good mix of both here. I think Martin [One of the electrical tutors] teaches it very well. I’ve enjoyed his style and the environment of working with all the other students as well. We come from all walks of life and backgrounds, but we’ve all got that one common goal of getting our qualifications. And we’re all here to learn, it’s very different to school – everyone’s here because they want to be here.

How has the electrical course compared to the kitchen fitting you were doing previously?

Kitchen fitting and carpentry is a lot more hands-on, which I’m more used to. The electrics is where you have to get the old brain working in gear. It’s been a while since I’ve had to sit in a classroom but again as I said Martin makes it interesting and mixes it up. And that’s helped us all.

Did you find you were fully prepared for the exams?

Well it’s a two and a half/three week course, so you’ve just got to make sure that you keep yourself pretty quiet over these weeks so at the end of it you get the pass mark. The first exam wasn’t bad at all but this one...it was an open book exam with the regs but it can be tricky. Its multiple choice (or multiple guess in some situations!) but I feel we covered it well in our teachings and you’ve just got to know your way around the book really.

We all passed in our class so we must have been fairly well prepared, especially when you never know what they’re going to chuck out at you. Every exam is different from everyone else’s.

So what will you be moving onto next?

I’m doing my PAT testing now, then have a nice week’s break and come back and nail my plumbing. I’m over the moon that I’m now a qualified domestic installer than can self-certify my own work. If you look at apprenticeships when I was finishing school that would have been a seven year course and even at the end you might not know as much as you’re given here. You’d have a fair bit of experience on the job but you’re in a good position to move on now and either do your own work if you feel confident enough or work for someone for a while before that.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone thinking of doing an electrical course or even completely changing careers like you have?

They need to remember that the courses are intense – you learn a lot of information so you want to make sure you go home, you get your sleep, your rest and your revision. Because you are slamming a lot of information into a small amount of time so you want to make sure you take in as much of it as possible. It’s a fun, enjoyable environment to learn in and the tutors. You’re learning from top guys so it’s been well worth the experience.

If you’ve wanted a career and want more of a hands-on trade and a change from what you’ve been doing I definitely recommend it. I certainly wouldn’t be here if I thought it was a waste of time. This is a great environment to come in and start.

We'll be catching up with Xavier Rush again after his week off, so if you have any questions you'd like to ask him please let us know via Twitter or Facebook. If you would like more information on taking the steps to change your career and become a professional tradesperson, please get in contact with one of our course advisers. Access Training offer courses in plumbing, electric, gas and construction (plastering, tiling, carpentry and painting & decoration) and they'd be happy to answer any questions. You can contact them on 088 345 7492.

The last few days have been a reminder that winter is well and truly here, with the temperature dropping and the country getting its first innings of both frost and snow. Even with energy bills on the rise, it's important to keep warm during this time of the year and make sure that your heating system is working properly. According to Government statistics, the 2012-13 winter period saw the largest excess mortality rate since 2008-09, with deaths coinciding with influenza, RSV and the cold weather.

The run-up to Christmas can be a busy time for plumbers and gas engineers, with consumers coming with all kinds of problems including broken down boilers and frozen pipes. For the tradespeople reading this it'll be good for business, but for the rest of us here is a few pieces of advice to keep away any unwanted costs as well as making sure your home stays warm.

The UK had a pretty good summer this year so it's likely that you haven't turned the heating on for a while, so it'll be good practice to check it regularly to make sure it's all in working order. Suddenly starting it up in a cold snap could result in it freezing up and potentially breaking down. Regular boiler checks by a professional plumber and gas engineer are important and should be done once a year, including servicing according to the manufacturer's instructions. Not doing so not only puts you at risk of forking out for repair costs, but in the case of gas boilers also puts you and your family at risk of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another handy tip is to bleed your radiators. If you can feel cold patches on them it may be due to some air trapped inside that's blocking the system. It's easy to do and won't require the help of a plumber, but should that fail it might be blocked with something else. In this case the radiator might need a chemical flush and you will require a Gas Safe engineer to get the job done.

Most importantly, and this really goes for any sort of DIY maintenance work - KNOW YOUR LIMITS! If there's something you know that you can't do, don't try and do a botched job of it anyway as you'll end up having to pay even more to get it repaired properly.

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With plumbers and gas engineers needed more than ever during these winter months, now if the perfect time to qualify as a plumber and/or gas engineer with an intensive Access Training course. We not only offer comprehensive training for beginners, but also ACS reassessment to those needing to give their qualifications an update. To find out more contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

Although the general public are becoming more aware of the benefits of using LED lighting in their homes, adoption is still notably slow says a recent survey from Lamp Shop Online.

LED lighting has already proven itself to be a money saver, saving homeowners as little as £13.63 on their annual lighting bill. With the average household energy bill around £1,420 a year and 8% of that going on lighting every little helps. Even the business world can get a significant saving! A small office with only a handful of fluorescent tubes can save around £85.50 a year by switching to LED tubes, and this figure only goes up as the building gets larger.

However these reductions still don't seem like enough to get homeowners to see the light. Lamp Shop Online's survey found that although 72% of consumers know that LED lighting can be used in the home and 67% know they will reduce their energy bills, many still don’t know how to take the first step to install LED lighting as they are confused over what to search for online. Getting more information on what they need to do to make the switchover is clearly still the biggest obstacle, with 39% of respondents not sure what to put into a search engine to get the relevant results.

28% didn't even know that LED lighting could be used in the home at all, so a lack of information is also a large factor at work.

Neil Kennedy from Lamp Shop Online said he was "surprised" that consumers didn't know where to begin looking for the information available. "This survey shows there is a definite lack of practical information on purchase and installation and concrete statistics on the savings LEDs can offer. Simply put, the lighting industry is not making it easy for consumers to make the switch to LEDs," he said.

He went on to say that creating the survey was a demonstration of their committment to LED lighting, and would now use these results to help encourage more people to read up on and eventually adopt LED products.

More information can be found at www.lampshoponline.com

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 take the steps to become a professional electrician, our electrical training courses are the fastest and most effective way to build up the skills you need and gain the necessary qualifications for a prosperous career in the industry. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

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.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness week will be happening between the 18th and 24th of November and industry regulation OFTEC has joined in to urge homeowners to get their boilers checked by a registed technician before the cold winter months arrive in full.

While most associate carbon monoxide poisoning with faulty gas appliances (which received their own focus at the end of September as part of Gas Safety Week), the truth is all fossil fuels can give off the gas. According to statistics from the Department of Health, carbon monoxide poisoning is responible for more than 50 death and 4,000 people being admitted to A7E in the UK every year.

Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, comments: "The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is significantly lower with oil-fired central heating but consumers should not be complacent. The key message is that in order to save lives, consumers should have their boilers checked annually by an OFTEC registered technician to make sure they are working properly. We also recommend homeowners install a carbon monoxide detector in their home.

"This is an important issue which we stress to our customers all year round. We want to do all we can to support national Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and view a carbon monoxide detector as just as important to people’s safety as a smoke alarm – they really do save lives."

More information on carbon monoxide poisoning can be found at www.oilsave.co.uk or by phoning OFTEC on 0845 65 85 080.

Via Installer Magazine

According to new research commissioned by ADEY Professional Heating Solutions, installers and heating engineers might have a huge opportunity at their fingertips.

It seems that millions of homeowners across the UK are failing to maintain their central heating systems properly, resulting in not only a loss of efficiency but a reduced lifespan and an increase in the amount of energy needed to heat homes. Their research looked at more than 1300 homeowners across the UK, with only 55% of them confirming that they have their boiler serviced annually. One in 20 even said that they considered it an unneccesary expense!

ADEY also found that 45% of homeowners claim to have a boiler between 10 and 15 years old, with 25% who have lived in their current home for more than 15 years saying that they have never once had their boiler serviced. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) of homeowners have a problem with their central heating system, with one in 20 suffering from low heat levels. One in 10 people put up with noisy pipework in their homes – a common indicator of debris in the heating system – and 15% of people admitted they turn the thermostat up to try to fix their boiler, burning more fuel than necessary on a healthy heating system.

Consumer/environmental broadcaster Lucy Siegle said: "Boilers are the 'forgotten workhorses' of our homes. We expect them to carry on pumping away without any TLC, but homeowners need to understand that a well-maintained system costs less to run. This is where installers have a great opportunity to use their insider knowledge and help their customers counter rising energy bills by ensuring their heating systems work safely and efficiently."

ADEY’s commercial director Rebekah Howard added: "The results of our research suggest that many people don’t understand the benefits that having an annual boiler service will bring, and worryingly, just let their good old boiler in the corner keep chugging away without giving it any attention.

"The current climate presents installers with a timely opportunity to be telling customers how a well-maintained and efficient boiler can help save money on heating bills, reduce the risk of it breaking down when it’s cranked up to keep them warm, and ensure it’s safe to use. Installers can be assured that many of their customers will welcome this advice, as three quarters of homeowners surveyed wanted to know about the simple changes they can make to the central heating to reduce energy bills."

More findings from the search can be seen in the infographic below:

Via HVP Magazine

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By becoming a qualified heating engineer, you too will be able to seize this opportunity for work. Not only that, but the life of a qualified plumber/engineer is varied, challenging and pays extremely well. You'll find yourself not only with a skill you'll have for the rest of your life, but a career that's never short of new work. But before any of this can happen, you'll need that right training and qualifications. Offering plumbing and gas engineer courses as both separate and combined packages, Access Training Academies is dedicated to helping students attain their goal of becoming professionally qualified, taking those first steps toward a brand new career. To find out more about how our courses can help you, contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492 and book your place today!

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.

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