Office construction

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 That remote working would become the dominant culture of employment, and that office spaces would become an outdated, impractical, unnecessary distraction.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.

Access Training open day visit from Dyno Plumbing


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

Skilled tradespeople

“We have come off a cliff edge’’, proclaims Jerry Swain, the national officer for construction at Unite the Union. He is talking about the UK’s current skills shortage, an issue which has been brewing for at least as long as the last decade, and intensified by the recent impacts of Brexit and Covid. With Boris Johnson’s dictum that we must ‘build back better’ ringing across media channels, industry leaders are beginning to question whether this ambition will be possible without a surge in new skilled tradespeople. 

“The industry has relied on foreign labour”, Swain continues. “It takes at least two years to make a decent bricklayer or carpenter. So now there is a limited pool to draw from”. It is an issue which has plagued industry leaders for over five years now – with a considerable dependence on EU workers making up the construction industry taskforce, what will happen when they eventually return to the EU? Without relaxing migrant visas to make the employment process more viable, it looks as though we have to depend upon homegrown skilled tradespeople. But is there enough being done to encourage this?

Well, considering the significant wage rise seen all across the board for tradespeople, it’s surprising that more people haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, though many have taken up the mantle and upskilled during the pandemic. Wages are skyrocketing for tradespeople. As an example, the Financial Times reported that the typical bricklayer is raking in around £220 per day, and often more. Before the pandemic, this figure was around £150-180, and this considerable growth is true of all trades across the board. Tradespeople are in such demand that they are able to command their salaries to an unprecedented level. Things have never looked more promising for those with the right skills – so why aren’t more people joining the workforce? 

Building companies are similarly baffled at the lack of available skilled tradespeople. A recent survey conducted by the Federation of Master Builders found that ‘more than half of its members were struggling to find the workers they need. The Financial Times also reported the case of Phil Wish, a builder and architect from Brighton, whose construction project was at serious risk of facing a long delay had he not had to muck in with the work himself, even convincing family members to help him out in order to get the job done. 


‘I couldn’t find an electrician for love nor money’, he says. The strain on the construction industry is taking its toll on smaller domestic projects, like Phil’s, as well as larger scale nationwide projects. All come under the umbrella of the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘build back better’, and Phil’s experience has left him less than hopeful: ‘you can’t build back better without enough builders’. 


Phil offers his opinion as to why more people aren’t joining the ranks of thriving tradespeople, putting it down to an “ingrained snobbery towards the trades”. He suggests that the perception of the trade industry is still serving as a huge obstacle to attracting bigger numbers of young skilled workers, despite attempts to change the image of construction. Trade jobs are, in Phil’s opinion, “seen as a last resort for kids who’ve failed to get into university". The enormous value, dignity and high-skilled nature of these jobs is not being sold to the masses, and it is of great importance that this message is communicated loud, clear – and quickly.

‘Build back better’ is beginning to absorb an essence of irony about it, as Boris Johnson’s promise is clearly under-delivering. Those within the trade industry are beginning to see it as something of a joke, as they continue to struggle with a dramatically limited workforce; projects are facing delays, and on top of this, material shortages are proving difficult to overcome. 

A survey by Homebuilders Federation found the following concerning statistics, to give a stark indication of just how much work there is to be done. For every 10,000 new houses built, 30,000 new recruits are needed; this includes 2,500 bricklayers, 1,000 carpenters, and 300 electricians. Considering that the UK Government has aimed for 300,000 new houses to be built every year, there is clearly a gargantuan task ahead of us.

But what is the solution? Further education colleges have been seen to be failing in their attempts to provide the country with the next generation of tradespeople. Jenny Herdman, director of the home building skills partnership at the Homebuilders Federation, has noted how potential young tradespeople are slipping through the cracks of these institutions, and suggests that as many as 60-70,000 young people who ‘could come into construction every year’ do not end up doing so. And even if those people are signing up for apprenticeships, this option takes too long to provide the UK with a supply of tradespeople in the necessary time.

Private training colleges such as Access Training are the way forward. Offering direct, dynamic training with the sole intention of setting you up for business, teaching you the skills you need, perfecting your craft and getting you onsite. It just takes one call for you to be a part of something bigger – a valued member of the trade industry. 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

Climate emergency

With the Cop26 Climate Meeting having come to an end in Glasgow, the pressing nature of the Climate Emergency is on everyone’s mind. Sustainable and environmentally conscious practices are of obvious importance and concern to the construction industry, and much is being done to advance the efficiency and carbon neutrality of building methods. But engagement with the ongoing crisis could also transform the construction industry in ways than one – it could help to close the skills gap.

One glaring obstacle faced by recruitment experts in the construction industry is the lack of people, specifically in the younger generation, training to become skilled tradespeople. Meanwhile, the current workforce is getting older, and EU workers are leaving the UK following the impacts of Brexit. At a time when the UK construction industry needs to be recruiting workers in their tens of thousands, the opposite trends are all too clear to see. Fewer young people are being drawn to the prospect of a career in construction than previous generations, and as a result, the future success of important infrastructure projects – like the promise of building an extra 300,000 houses per year, for example – hangs in the balance.

But one suggested approach towards attracting the next generation has been to engage more actively, more overtly, and with more urgency, to the ongoing Climate Emergency. Raj Somal, Director of Dice, a civil and structural engineering consultancy, has recently published an article addressing the ‘sustainable values’ shared by the younger ‘Gen-Z’ demographic, and suggests that ‘aligning’ with these values and ‘promoting an inclusive culture’ could dramatically aid attempts to close the skills gap, and attract future generations towards working in construction. At the same time, the industry could finally rid itself of outdated and inaccurate preconceptions which many have seen as the reason for a drop off in younger trainees. 

A recent report has found that 62% of ‘Gen-Z’ are ‘aware and engaged with climate emergency issues’, but only ⅓ members of that generation see the construction industry as a place where they can meaningfully tackle these issues. It is surely a wise call, then, to ensure that the construction industry is seen to be fully addressing climate issues, not only to close the skills gap, but to ensure better environmental practice for its own sake, and go some way in realising net-zero targets by 2050.

Technology is key to this change, Somal writes. Perceptions of the industry are already changing with the introduction of advanced modern technologies, particularly in building methods and practices. REVIT, for example, is a tool used by Dice to generate 3D models of buildings, and technical mark-ups are increasingly used on iPads and other devices in order to ensure paperless practice. Using devices in the workplace has been viewed as a way to cater for a generation of highly technologically-literate individuals, who have essentially grown up using devices such as these.

But this development is not far enough by any means, and this much is acknowledged. Not only should building methods be environmentally conscious, but the projects themselves should adopt the same ambitions of carbon neutrality, especially considering that the built environment contributes towards 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint. It is not hard to understand why environmentally conscious, concerned young people are not feeling as comfortable as would be desired in pursuing careers within the construction industry – opportunities to avert climate disaster may not yet seem plentiful in the sector.

But the construction industry is changing, and there is much evidence of this. Modern methods of construction (MMC) are being constantly promoted by industry leaders, and more sustainable practices are seen more and more as a ‘win-win’ for businesses and developers – they save time and money for both parties. Businesses increasingly have an incentive to adopt the most environmentally friendly methods. And this is crucial, as noted above, not only to alleviate the concerns of the younger generation but to address the environmental issues which concern everybody on the planet. 

If the construction industry can demonstrate its intentions to make a meaningful impact on issues surrounding climate, we could see a complete transformation in the number of young people who see the industry as a place of opportunity, to manifest environmental concerns and use those concerns to instigate change. The construction industry can place itself at the forefront of technological developments which aid our common progress towards net-zero targets. 

After the momentous fortnight witnessed at Cop26 in Glasgow, and amid concerning reports that the planet is heating even beyond worst fears, it is more imperative than ever that change is enacted on the ground – that every new build, every piece of maintenance, every individual tradesperson, enacts the positive environmentally-conscious change that is needed. With everyone on board, who knows what the construction industry can achieve. 

If you want to be a part of the changing face of the construction industry, there is no need to wait, and no time to lose. Become a skilled tradesperson today to join a workforce growing in environmental awareness. Use construction to create your meaningful impact. 


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

Photo from

Recovery graph

Now one and a half years on since the Covid-19 pandemic effectively shut down the world, the dust appears to be settling on the construction industry’s state of affairs. There have been numerous obstacles, triumphs, setbacks, and delays of all kinds over this period. Material shortages, fears of redundancy, social distancing measures to be overcome, and the threat of site closures. At a time where such significant construction projects as HS2 are already behind schedule and costing ever greater amounts of money, this is the last thing we need. 

For the last year and a half, industry leaders have waited with baited breath, casting hopeful speculation and quiet apprehension on the future of the construction industry. Will there be opportunities for growth on the other side? Will there be careers for skilled tradespeople? Will we have the means to provide the country with the services it so desperately needs? 

But the industry has bounced back. Thanks to perseverance, discipline and brute determination to overcome these unprecedented challenges, we have powered through lockdown after lockdown, adjusting to the circumstances and ensuring that we get the job done. 

The construction industry has served as a crucial lifeboat for those whose careers were unfortunately left untenable by the pandemic’s ruthlessness. Redundancies across a range of sectors, such as hospitality and entertainment, meant that thousands of people across the country left their jobs, either voluntarily or otherwise. 

Thankfully, many of these people decided to retrain in trade and never looked back. A few months into the pandemic, it was evident that the services of tradespeople were going to remain in full demand – and someone had to provide those services.

It takes little digging to discover some striking evidence for the construction industry’s incredible performance and recovery over the last year or so. Not only have levels of productivity and profit returned to where they left off in March 2020, but quite often they have sky-rocketed past them. 

The construction firm Clancy Group, for example, reported that their profits actually tripled during this great year of disruptions in the midst of the pandemic. Their pre-tax profit came in at £11.1m as of 28 March 2021, up from £3.5m the previous year – a figure which beggars belief considering the circumstances. 

As the pandemic took its early toll in April and May of 2020, the company’s revenue dropped by 20%, and 500 of its 2,200 staff were forced into furlough. Things were not looking good, and the future was as uncertain as it seemed for the rest of the world. They had it as tough as anybody, but benefited greatly from the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which meant they were able to avoid making redundancies. 

Kevin Clancy, Chairman of Clancy Group, said with noted optimism that ‘the vast majority [of the Clancy workforce] have returned to work successfully’, thanks to the support offered by the CJRS. He continues: 


‘The pandemic has had a significant impact, but it has also highlighted the fundamental strength of our business. Within a few weeks of the onset of the pandemic, our team was predominantly classified as key workers and played an essential role in maintaining the country’s infrastructure throughout the pandemic’


These comments demonstrate the industry’s ability to get back on its feet with determination and dignity, and to ensure that last year’s delays are erased and made up for. They highlight the industry’s fundamental purpose in our society and in our daily lives, and it injects enormous value into the role of tradespeople. ‘Key workers’, ‘essential roles’, and ‘fundamental strength’ are not phrases to be taken lightly, and it is greatly inspiring to see that highly skilled tradespeople are being given the opportunities, protection, and security they deserve.

If you are considering becoming a skilled tradesperson, then now is the time to do so. There is no doubt whatsoever that the construction industry is picking itself up and moving the country forward. It is offering employment to a vast range of skilled and hardworking people, across a huge range of roles. It could be the career you never knew you needed – it could be yours for life. 

Access Training can give you the step up that you need to become trained, become confident in your skills, and to set out on your career. It’s only a call away. 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

The easing of lockdown has brought with it countless developments within the world of construction and beyond. Our outlook on the world, our personal freedoms, and many elements of our behaviour have changed perhaps permanently. 

As we go on to explain in this article, some of our attitudes towards DIY construction projects have seemed to change over the course of the pandemic, with an increase in the amount of homeowners, especially in the younger generation, who are willing to undertake certain minor tasks across a range of vocations, whether it’s electrical, plumbing or carpentry work. 

A recent study conducted by the Plastic Sheets Shop showed that 40% of UK homeowners attempted their own DIY home improvement projects over lockdown, and that 35% are more confident in this area as a result. 

This enthusiasm and increased level of interest in being able to tackle DIY projects is very encouraging in terms of reaching our goal of supplying the construction industry with the next generation of tradespeople. If there’s a desire and enjoyment in being able to complete home improvements yourself, then why not make that your job?

DIY disasters

Some things, however, never change, and this includes our ultimate dependency on tradespeople to complete minor and major DIY work to a high and safe standard. One most notable development in the easing of lockdown has been the upsurge in the number of tradespeople who continue to be called out to people’s homes to complete a huge range of services. 

While these numbers remained consistent throughout previous lockdowns, with tradespeople in high demand and being able to safely carry out work despite restrictions, the recent surge is extremely promising, and shows that we need trained skilled tradespeople if we want serious work carried out to a high standard. 

The same study also revealed that, fortunately, the vast majority of people are still much more likely to call in a tradesperson to carry out the required work themselves. This is great news for those working in the trade – it demonstrates the consistent high demand and high rates that have been promised over the last year, and offers a bright light at the end of the tunnel for thousands of those working in the industry. 


Generating trust in your customers is crucial to forming a steady client base, and the figures revealed by this study suggest that the general public do have a very high level of confidence in tradespeople and the quality of work that they carry out. For example, 80.2% of those 45+, and 43.4% of those 18-45, would always bring in a tradesperson to complete work at home. 


Plumbing was the most in-demand trade for those who answered the survey, as it was seen as being more complex and requiring a high level of expertise. 70% of people surveyed answered that they would always call in a professional for any plumbing work. 34% answered that they would not know where to begin while performing the most minor of plumbing tasks, such as fixing leaky taps or unblocking drains, while 53% said that they would not be confident enough to attempt more major work themselves, especially complex tasks like installing plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, or dishwashers.

The most revealing statistic, however, was that 40% of respondents actually regretted attempting the work themselves instead of hiring a professional! This is not a particularly good indicator of the quality of the work performed, and it goes without saying that hiring a professional – or becoming a qualified professional yourself – is only going to give you a better, and in the long term, more cost effective, outcome. 

Some trade work can be more forgiving to the DIY amateur – putting up a wonky shelf or changing a bulb isn’t going to result in disastrous consequences. But if there’s one thing the pandemic has shown, it’s that despite increased DIY efforts, people are still devoted to the services of the tradesperson, and that there truly is no adequate replacement for high-skilled, disciplined, professional work. 

Over the course of the pandemic, thousands of people have made the leap from their struggling professions to become skilled tradespeople, often after realising that they can save – and eventually make – money doing the work themselves. The opportunities for work are abundant, as is widely reported – wherever you look, there are indications that a career in the construction industry is well paid and in high demand. The trade industry has been and always will be a highly respected and essential industry with opportunities for everyone who wants to contribute their skills. 

Access Training is the place to develop and nurture these skills, and turn them into a viable and fulfilling career. It only takes one call, and we can take it from there.

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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