am i too old to learn a trade

One question we get asked a lot here at Access Training is - am I too old to learn a trade? The short answer is no! Our courses are available to people of all ages and abilities and can work around your pre-existing responsibilities. Whether you're finishing school and looking to become an electrician through a full-time course, or 40 and hoping to become a plumber through one of our part-time courses, we can accommodate you.

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There is a longstanding argument about the benefits or negatives of being self-employed over direct employment. This extends beyond the construction industry, into all facets of the world of work. There has been a significant rise in those registered as self-employed; between 2001 and 2017, self-employment in the UK rose from 3.3 million to 4.8 million. But there is no right or wrong answer – whether you become self-employed or not, depends on your personal preference, your professional situation, and what you want out of a career. 

Nevertheless, it is important to have the facts and figures when you’re preparing to get out into the world of work. The nature of your working status will change your lifestyle, your expectations and responsibilities; it will impact the taxes you pay, your paid leave, and the opportunities you have for professional development. Below we have listed some of the pros and cons of being either self-employed or employed, so that you can move forward with a clearer vision of your professional route.

 

Pros of Self-Employment

Being your own boss

The headline for those self-employed workers is that it gives you autonomy over your working life. Everything from the hours you work, how much you earn, and the kind of work you do, can be regulated by yourself. Naturally, this kind of freedom comes with its own responsibilities and challenges. But if you’re looking for flexibility above all else, without having to operate within the confines of a larger company, then this model might be for you.

 

You reap your own rewards

Everybody wants to see the benefits of their own hard work, and being self-employed means exactly this. Running your own business in the construction industry can be incredibly financially rewarding; you take out what you put in. Working hard for other people may not be as satisfying and personally motivating as earning money for yourself, and seeing your business skills go from strength to strength. Working for an employer might not offer the same potential for the same growth, though it does undoubtedly have its own benefits.

 

Professional flexibility

Nobody understands your own strengths and limitations better than you do yourself, which is why as a self-employed worker you don’t have to be restricted in your working opportunities – and that means a bigger financial reward for yourself. 

An employer might underestimate you, and even limit you to one job at a time, when you know that you could be stretching yourself. When self-employed, you can challenge yourself to achieve tasks to the best of your abilities, and have full control over your ongoing projects. You negotiate the contract you have with each individual customer, and base your progress on this – full autonomy, and maximum opportunity.

 

Personal development

Becoming self-employed is an undeniable challenge. But some of the things which make self-employment seem less appealing, like the added responsibilities, might ultimately themselves be positives. The skills you learn as an individual could be ones you’d never learn in any other capacity; things like self-motivation, self-discipline, planning, resourcefulness, and thinking on your toes. You need to generate and pursue your own opportunities – but this doesn’t need to sound daunting or high-pressured. For certain people with the capacity to do well, this could be the perfect lifestyle. 

 

Pros of Employment

 

Financial security

Despite the obvious freedoms of being self-employed, there are some inevitable downsides. The obvious benefits of working for a wider company is financial stability, and the legal perks that go with being a regular employee. You are paid a regular wage, given consistent work, and awarded a job security which is far more difficult to achieve as a self-employed worker. In addition to this, taxation is also covered by being employed. That is, you pay it automatically through PAYE, meaning you can enjoy your earnings while those who are self-employed have to stay on top of how much they owe to the taxman. 

 

Regular work

Working for an employer means that much of the responsibility for finding work rests with those above. You enjoy the reputation or influence of a larger marketed entity, meaning that your opportunities won’t fizzle out (as long as the company itself is still trading of course). You can without having to worry about marketing yourself, broadening your customer base, or networking. The big company does that work for you.For those who are self-employed, finding work is itself a huge part of the challenge; working for an employer, however, you can simply turn up, do the job, and leave your work at the doorstep. 

 

You get to enjoy employment rights

Employment rights are legal perks which come as a result of being employed, as opposed to being self-employed. That is, the right to earn a national living wage, statutory paid leave, a minimum level of paid holiday and rest breaks, and sick pay. Not only does it offer you rights which help you financially, but also legally: you have a certain amount of protection in the workplace against things like unlawful discrimination, or protection against whistleblowing. 

As a self-employed person, you would of course be entitled to health and safety and discrimination rights; but other rights are set out by terms of the contract you have with your individual clients, so it can be a lot to think about.

 

But regardless of the route you choose through the construction industry, it will still be a fulfilling and rewarding one. The forthcoming years are going to be successful years for tradespeople, and will see demand rising, opportunities increasing, and work plentiful. Whatever your career ambitions – whether you want to impress potential employers or be your own boss – Access Training can help to make them a reality. 

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen. 

‘We cannot “build back better” without the builders’ –– Oscar Watkins, head of IPPR construction sector.

 

Since 2010, 1.8 million houses have been built in England alone. In December of last year, we saw a 37-year high in the number of houses built in a single year: 243,770. This was the seventh consecutive year in which the number of houses built has risen

Now consider how this immense feat could have been possible without the construction workers who built these houses? And with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stated ambition to ‘build back better’ in the coming years, it’s looking likely to be a persistently busy time for construction workers. 

There’s no question about how important the services of tradespeople are to daily life, and this in itself will ensure that careers in trades will continue being busy. But this high demand is undoubtedly increased by the skills gap that the UK has faced for a decade or more. In 2015, one quarter of all construction job vacancies was a result of the current skills crisis. By 2018, the percentage of skills-gap vacancies had risen to 43%. And this worsening problem is caused by one simple fact: there are more jobs available in trades than there are skilled workers to fill them. And so the demand for tradespeople is especially high.

This skills shortage is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, the workforce is ageing. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) estimated that 750,000 construction workers will either retire, or have reached retirement age, within the next fifteen years. Brexit has also meant that hiring EU-born workers (who made up a big portion of the UK construction workforce) is more complicated and expensive for contractors than hiring UK-born workers. The number of EU workers halved in two years, from 115,000 to 53,000 between 2018-2020. On top of this, apprenticeship numbers are inefficient and in decline, with a 30% reduction across Britain.

These contributing factors cause concern to British industry leaders. It means that certain important quotas might fail to be met; the aim to achieve a zero-carbon economy by 2050, for instance, is highly dependent on the next generation of workers in the construction sector.

But it’s a good thing for those either already in the industry, or for those looking to get started. The opportunities for a long-term career are practically endless. The demand for most trades is consistently high. Work is well-paid and plentiful. 

A survey conducted by Rated People and Vanorama, asked 1000 people from around the UK about their demand for tradespeople during 2020. It turns out that it was pretty high, with 64% of those asked saying that they’d called out a tradesperson at least once; despite lockdowns and a pandemic, 68% of those surveyed said that they were comfortable with tradespeople in their homes. 

The survey also gave an insight into how busy life might be for tradespeople for the foreseeable future. Here are just a few statistics proving how integral construction work was to people during 2020:

 

Plumbers

  • Plumbers topped the bill, as they proved to be the most in-demand tradespeople of 2020, with 23% of those surveyed saying that it was a plumber they called out. 
  • The average wage for plumbers has risen considerably in a year, from £31,370 in 2019, to £32,356 – just shy of a £1,000 increase.

 

Electricians

  • Electricians were the second highest demand trade of 2020, with 11% of the UK’s adult population having called one out at least once.

 

  • Projected growth of job vacancies by 8% between 2019-2029. This is higher than the average growth for all occupations.

 

  • Electricians just about earn the highest average salary out of all the trades, with £33,495. This is an increase on 2019’s average of £33,176, and suggests a growing trend as the years move ahead.
  • Estimates suggest that an extra 15,000 electricians are needed across the UK in order to fill the skills gap. One of those could be you.

 

Of course, it wasn’t plumbers and electricians alone who were reaping the rewards. Carpenters and joiners are also in extremely high demand, with around 60% of construction companies noting the current shortage of workers to hire. In 2016, the employment rate for carpenters was predicted to grow by 8% over the next ten years, and the current widening of the skills gap is only increasing this likelihood. In short, the trades industry in general is experiencing a massive shortage of workers, and this is generating high demand for skilled workers. 

 

We’ve seen a natural increase of 7% more jobs being posted for tradespeople compared to last year, so there has definitely been a rise in demand for their services, despite what you might expect with a pandemic. The trade industry has fortunately been able to keep operating in line with new health and safety requirements to be on hand to help people get more enjoyment from their homes and save the day in any home emergencies’ – Adrienne Minster, Rated People CEO

 

And high demand means plenty of well-paid work. Not only are average salaries rising, but customers are still keen to spend money on tradespeople. The survey above also tells us something about the spending trends witnessed throughout 2020, and reveals that people are not afraid to spend money on tradespeople. One in five people spent over £1,000 on tradespeople during 2020, either for kitchen, bathroom or garden work alone. One in ten spent over £5,000 during the year. Interestingly, most of those surveyed spent under £100, suggesting that it’s the minor but crucial smaller jobs keeping tradespeople busy and earning over an exceptionally difficult year. 

Even better news for tradespeople is that customers base their decisions on who to book primarily on the quality of the work, rather than how much it costs. Only 12% chose a tradesperson based on how much they charge, with 70% more likely to take notice of a good reputation. That means, if you’re good at what you do, and you’re working as your own boss, you can charge what your quality work deserves.

If this isn’t proof enough that tradespeople have been in high demand, we can see it from the customers themselves: 29% of those surveyed said that they’d had to wait longer than usual to book a tradesperson, due to their busy schedules. Considering lockdowns and stories of struggling during the pandemic, you would have thought the opposite to be true. But no, customers are virtually queuing up to pay tradespeople to fix their home issues – often problems that they’ve caused themselves, as 20% admitted to having caused the problems themselves, as a result of spending too much time at home over lockdown! 

If there’s one thing that the pandemic has reminded us of, it’s that we will never stop needing tradespeople. The survey conducted  Plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers – you name it. Pandemic or not, boilers will break, appliances will need servicing and maintenance. Who else could fit our bathrooms and kitchens? Who else could ensure our central heating didn’t conk out throughout the winter? The answer is, well, nobody. 

Take this chance to join an industry of opportunity. The timing couldn’t be better.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

If there’s one thing that 2020 has shown us, it’s that construction jobs are not going anywhere soon. Demand has surged during the pandemic for a multitude of reasons; people spending more time at home and finding the time to carry out home improvements, as well as the usual maintenance and servicing reasons which won’t go away. The developments of Brexit have meant that the construction sector desperately needs to rely on its homegrown UK-born workforce. Not to mention the enormous backlog of construction projects that were stalled in the initial months of lockdown, causing an enormous demand which has spilled over into 2021. 

All construction jobs are very much valued, and all contribute to the overall bigger picture. The construction industry is currently experiencing a large skills shortage, and has done for years. A major factor of this skills shortage is that the current working population is ageing. A recent study, conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), that only 20% of construction workers are under 30 years old.

The IPPR has also estimated that 750,000 construction workers will retire, or will be on the verge of retiring, in the next 15 years

 

But this is very good news for those looking to get into the construction world, as it means that there are more jobs available than there are skilled workers to fill them. So, in short, whichever career path you take within the construction industry, it’ll bring you fulfilling, well-paid work, and a secure professional future.

Having said that, there are particular construction roles within the industry which have a particular demand. The surge in construction projects has meant that plumbers, electricians, carpenters and many other kinds of skilled laborers are particularly sought after. 

These kind of workers are essential in our everyday lives, and so the services they provide us are simply always going to be valuable. Boilers need servicing, electrical appliances need maintenance, the plumbing in our homes needs fixing from time to time. And in every single new building which is built, these fundamental things need to be fitted correctly, safely, and professionally. They then need to be maintained from time to time, to make sure that they are still safe for years to come. It might be stating the obvious, but construction workers are invaluable for all of these reasons. 

Joining the construction industry has never been a better idea. The timing is perfect. Make the most of your time, and become a qualified tradesperson in a matter of weeks.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

The light at the end of the Covid tunnel is now perhaps within sight. A year of lockdowns, redundancies, economic struggle and suffering is possibly about to come to an end, with June 21st as our ticket out. But there is one, potentially long-lasting, victim: today’s youth.

Young people, along with women and those in the hospitality industry, have been among the hardest hit by the redundancies and unemployment crisis that this country has faced over the past year. It is predicted that, by the middle of 2021, the unemployment rate will be a dire 7.5%, with 4.7 million people furloughed. Three months before the end of 2020, when things were bad enough, the unemployment rate was only 5.1%. 

Even at the best of times, young people are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to the job market, and finding a secure career in this steadily worsening climate will be nigh-on impossible. Young people are typically the first to be fired, and last to be hired. They are often considered dispensable baggage, usually the ones with least experience, and as a result, most at risk of finding it difficult to gain employment. Crucial opportunities for work experience, which normally lead to growth in both experience and confidence, are now practically non-existent. We might find ourselves facing a generation of unprepared, uninspired young people, who rightfully feel hard done by: the unlucky Class of 2020.

But our youth need protection, and this potentially disastrous situation is avoidable. It is still possible to secure your future as a young person, and to do it with self-belief and pride in your profession. Fulfilling and honest work is not a thing of the past, and taking control of your future is still on the cards, even if it might currently seem like a mammoth task. You might be surprised to hear that, in fact, the ticket to the future is right on your doorstep.

Private training academies like Access Training offer the best possible route into the trade industry, and a prosperous career path. For young people who want to take control of their lives, provide themselves with a healthy and consistent income for decades to come, the next step should be a no-brainer. The trade industry is calling out for the next generation to offer their practical, problem-solving skills, and to serve the country for the forthcoming years of development. Boris Johnson calls for Britain to ‘Build Back Better’ – but without young people to ensure we get the job done, that might be a tall ask.

With a year of schools mostly closed, teaching severely limited, and opportunities to establish their future careers greatly suppressed, the impact on young people is likely to be wide-reaching, and indiscernible while we’re still in the eye of the storm. Not only has it impacted their future prospects, but no doubt their psychological state; it’s quite difficult to entertain optimistic plans for the future in the current situation, and ambitious dreams rarely bloom under the conditions of a pandemic. 

But with the right education, the right guidance, and awareness of the options available to young people, we can instill pride in the art of plying a trade, to promote the values and benefits of being your own boss, and of developing valuable practical skills that will serve young people, and their communities, for the rest of their lives. Let’s do our duty to the upcoming generation, and give them the opportunity for success and stability that could be so cruelly taken from them. Let’s consider it our responsibility to our young people, our communities, and the prosperity of our country. 





Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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