Have we anticipated the death of the office too soon? 

As far as workspaces go, we might tend to think of construction sites and offices as chalk and cheese. But their future effects on modern ways of working are perhaps more important to each other than we might think. A productive construction industry has boosted office building projects for 2022 – and in the process, may have secured the long-term function of offices in modern working culture.

Despite a dip in the number of office-builds over the last three years – the number of new office builds in the 6 months to March is a third lower than the previous winter – the summer ahead is looking to give the construction industry a huge boost, with predictions for office builds climbing. 250,000 square metres of planned office buildings are in the demolition phase, and scheduled to start by September of this year. And this is good news for the construction industry. 

One of the overriding narratives which surfaced during the Covid-19 pandemic was that the office would become a thing of the past. That remote working would become the dominant culture of employment, and that office spaces would become an outdated, impractical, unnecessary distraction. Little did we know that the respective futures of both the office and the construction industry would become integral to one another.

Not only does the office remain an integral part of modern working culture, but a significant amount of employers, employees, and investors consider improvements to offices to be responsible for making recruitment and working life easier and more appealing. A study by ISG showed that seven in ten businesses “experienced an increase in productivity following workplace investment”, suggesting that predictions of the office’s demise have been “misplaced”.

This isn’t to say that the function of the office won’t change – it will, and it has. But as our relationship with the office has changed from being a permanent fixture of work throughout the week, to becoming a more flexible, part-time space for more effective work, our perception of what makes offices useful has also changed. According to a survey of over 1,300 employers, employees and investors, recruitment has actually improved as investment in offices has grown. The survey said that over half of those employees who answered “did not want to work remotely on a permanent basis”. Perhaps, then, rather than killing the office, the pandemic has in fact ensured its future survival. 

Investing in offices will bring great rewards for the construction industry, and so this rediscovered appreciation for the place of the office in our working culture is a big thumbs up for productivity levels in the coming year. The pandemic, despite all its challenges and setbacks, might have given the construction industry this added boost in demand and projects in this unexpected expansion of office space. 

This development follows an unprecedented rise in council house building, mostly in the London area. The highest volume of new council homes in 40 years is currently underway, with 5,000 new homes built between April 2021-22, according to the Greater London Authority. 

Does this not look like an industry which is thriving, back on its feet, and ready to go after the setback of the last two years? It might offer a symbol of inspiration to those of you who are similarly trying to get back on your feet and feel fulfilled in your work. If you’re even considering the possibility of retraining in construction, and escaping your current mode of employment, then now is the time to take advantage of an increasing high demand for construction workers – not only in the capital, but spread equally across the country. 

No matter where you are based, we have training centres which can serve your needs, get you trained and qualified, and out working on site before you know it. Offices might be on the rise again, but that doesn’t mean you want to be stuck in one yourself. 


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

In September, the number of job vacancies for skilled tradespeople was above 40,000 for the first time since records began. Construction firms are now experiencing a large absence of available qualified tradespeople to fill positions. Battling material shortages and delays, as well as a dwindling workforce, firms are putting out the call for more skilled workers to carry out the rising demand for construction work. But despite rising salaries, higher rates, and plenty of work opportunities, it’s still a difficult feat to meet their needs. In the first week of November, 221,000 adverts were posted across all sectors, taking the number of advertised roles up to a record high of 2.68 million, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which tracks the number of job vacancy adverts.

 

With vacancies already at a notable high, Ian Anfield, the managing director of payroll firm Hudson Contract, suggests that the numbers are going to continue to rise. Although the end of lockdown support schemes helped get a number of people back into work, ‘there is still stiff competition for skilled labour and plenty of work for those who want it’,

 

If the strain on the trade workforce has shown any positives, it has highlighted the opportunities available to people looking to join the sector. The industry needs more workers, and, once qualified, the job possibilities are there waiting for you. To get involved, get working, and get earning, call Access Training today.

The price cap around energy is increasing by 54% in April this year. As such, many consumers are concerned that their energy bills are about to increase significantly – it’s believed that that bills will soar to more than £2000 a year for the average consumer. Research has shown that nearly nine in ten (89%) people think it is important that the government acts to combat the rise in energy bills, with 91% feeling that the government should be introducing new support schemes for consumers if the price cap increases again in October. Our professionals have some top tips to save on electricity consumption, and battle the rise in living costs. 

 

  1. Smart Meters: installing smart meters in your home can be a great way of monitoring your spending each month. It is estimated that homes with smart meters could save up to 49% on their annual energy bills.
  2. Energy Efficient Appliances: When purchasing new appliances, it’s always worth checking the energy efficiency rating. The ratings span from A down to G, and labels will even tell you the energy consumption of the appliance to allow accurate comparisons. Transitioning from a 100 Watt bulb to a 10 Watt not only helps the environment, but can have a massive impact on your electricity consumption when implemented throughout a home.
  3. Turn Your Appliances Off: The desire to have tech at our fingertips has meant that it has become common to leave appliances on standby. However, every appliance left on standby continues to use energy when not in use, the average UK home wastes £55 a year on appliances left on standby. Smart plugs can be a great way to cut energy costs for appliances typically left on standby and can save you £86 per year. 
  4. Turning unused lights off: walking out of a room and leaving the light on is a classic way we all waste energy. Passive Infrared sensors do the work for you, turning lights on and off based on motion detected within a space. These can save up to 50% on a home’s lighting energy costs. 
  5. Renewable Energy: In the long term, there are of course more drastic solutions to the price increases. Renewable energy, although daunting to some, can be worth the while when you factor in the overall savings and impact on the environment. The recent announcement of cutting the 5% VAT from April for homeowners with solar panels, heat pumps and insulation installed means that the next 5 years are the optimal time to invest in the switch to renewable energy within the home.

 

 

Although we can’t avoid the rise in energy costs, hope is not lost. There are options out there for the average homeowner to maintain a manageable monthly spend and, incidentally, make positive contributions to the battle against climate change.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is an initiative by the Government to fund qualifications in sectors such as engineering, construction and social care to any adult who has not already achieved a qualification at Level 3. There have been consistent warnings about the government’s approach to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee from politicians across the political divide while the bill was passing through the House of Commons.

 

The current offering falls short in three major areas, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability. The Government needs to provide clearer criteria and a broader selection of qualifications for people looking to begin a career in the industry. By voting against amendments to strengthen the Bill, it is clear that encouraging the trade sector is not currently a priority. We need more support for potential students to find out exactly what qualifications they need and how to use them to build a career. Although the lifetime skills initiative provides funding for level 3 qualifications, students still need options for funding their level 1 and 2. Initiatives such as Access' Earn While You Learn, coupled with the prolonged career support offering, provide students with realistic means to create a sustainable career in the industry.

 

During the lockdowns in 2020-2021, the Government's priorities became clearer than ever as they selected the sectors worthy of the term "essential workers". Despite trade acting as a lynchpin to keep the UK economy running throughout this time, tradespeople were given no recognition of their utility. The fallout from this is still being felt across the sector. There is no need to predict the consequences of a lack of action as these consequences are already a reality. A dwindling workforce in trade impacts the infrastructure, facilities, and utilities available to everyone - including the Government itself - for new projects. This, in turn, impacts company productivity and creates a drop in service which would hit the already fragile economic environment. Despite having vowed to help the country "Build Back Better", the Government seems to have forgotten that you can't build anything without a well grounded workforce of tradespeople.

 

On 8th April, we hosted our Access Training Open Day showcasing our Edenbridge centre with affiliates offering recruitment opportunities and demonstrating new tools. Current students were invited to come along and meet with businesses such as Dyno Plumbing to interview for industry roles and to discuss self employment opportunities with our associates Rezigo and Sort It. Our Earn While You Learn initiative, in partnership with our companies such as CitySite, provides potential students with the ability to get into employment before gaining their qualifications. 

 

Many visitors took advantage of CitySite’s attendance, combining talks on our Earn While You Learn initiative with walkaround tours from our Course Advisors to ensure that they chose the best suited training and employment programme. Products were displayed from providers such as Anton by Crowcon, ViperGas, Condensate Pro, CK Tools, Nerrad, and Uponor. These providers, spanning across all trades, highlighted the importance of starting your career with the right kit, as well as providing explanations on what you need to be successful in the industry.

 

Our next Open Day on the 6th May is a great opportunity for aspiring Gas Engineers and Electricians to visit the centre and speak to industry professionals about potential career paths. Get in touch today to find out more

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