‘Plumbing has sat at the heart of tackling the pandemic’ – Kevin Wellman, CEO of Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering

It’s World Plumbing Day on the 11th March. A day that, since 2010, has represented a celebration of the successes of an ever-thriving industry, where we consider how important plumbing is in today’s society, and why the plumbing industry is essential to us in our daily lives.

But World Plumbing Day in 2021 is, as we might expect, a different story to our previous celebrations over the last decade. This last year has seen plumbers face challenges like no other; they have been on the frontline of a worldwide pandemic, ensuring that our homes are safe and warm. And on this day, we should consider the importance of plumbers as we all battle through an ongoing global crisis.

But why exactly is plumbing so important to us? Why, for instance, have plumbers been awarded a ‘critical worker status’ over the course of the pandemic, awarding them particular benefits and protections as workers, and meaning that they are still able to work and continue to perform the vital services they always have done.

As Kevin Wellman, CEO of Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), notes, plumbers take care of the most fundamental elements of our day-to-day lives, inside and outside our homes: ‘from the clean water, tapes and sinks we use to wash our hands, to the sanitation systems we use to help stop the spread of viruses and bacteria.

‘In this latest lockdown, PPE clad engineers have been the local heroes, fixing cold weather emergencies such as broken-down boilers and burst pipes, in very tough situations’. 

Plumbers, like many other frontline workers, have faced unprecedented challenges, and yet still have had to perform their jobs, use their skills to their utmost abilities, and persevere through the worst of it. Plumbers deserve to be called local heroes, because their sacrifices and successes have been unsung. Well, World Plumbing Day is the day to sing their praises.

Not only are we indebted to plumbers for keeping us warm and comfortable, but in keeping us safe and without injury. Our homes can become dangerous if not properly maintained, and Wellman informs us that ‘the number of hot water scalds and heating system related contact burns has grown at an alarming rate over the past year, due in a large part to the fact we are all spending a lot more time at home.’

We have more to thank plumbers for than we realise – and considering the obstacles that they have had to face over the last year, like many of us, it is all the more admirable that they have continued to work tirelessly to do their jobs. Facing financial and employment stress, issues with supply chains, needing to source PPE, and the risk of being made vulnerable to a deadly disease, plumbers have faced the challenges ahead with a brave face. 

Their roles are invaluable not only for homeowners, but thousands of businesses and all kinds of establishments throughout the country. And for that reason, the question of why plumbing is important has an obvious answer.

‘Our industry will have a huge role to play in supporting homeowners and businesses through a recovery, and those hero capes will be staying firmly in place for the foreseeable future’.

 

If you want to join the celebrations, there’s no better way to do so than in becoming a plumber yourself. Join the cause, and enquire about a training course today. 


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

"When I started, I had nothing. I put down my last £200 as a deposit, and I made that decision. You can never go wrong investing in yourself."

- Former plumbing student Leah Carney

Leah training for her new career as a plumber

Starting a new career - retraining and setting up your own business for the first time - is undoubtedly difficult. Not knowing the future can be stressful: will it work out? Am I making the right choice? Is now the right time to be doing this? Many unanswered questions, no firm solutions.

And as much as we might try to convince you that, yes, now is the right time, you might be more inclined to listen to those who have gone through the training process as students. To those who have come out the other side with a sparkling career ahead of them.

Leah Carney is a designer and former delivery driver who enrolled on one of our plumbing courses during the COVID-19 pandemic and never looked back. Our tutor Jamie caught up with Leah to find out how her new career was going.

 

Q: Hi Leah! Thanks for taking the time to speak today, I know you must be busy. How did your decision to retrain first come about?

Well, I was doing some delivery driving just to earn a bit of money, and to get myself through the COVID situation. But before that, I was doing design work - that's what my degree is in. And then I just decided to retrain; in the past, people have told me that I'd be really good at plumbing or gas, just because I'm good with my hands, I'm logical, a good problem solver, that sort of thing.

 

Q: And why Access Training in particular?

I just started googling and doing my research, and came across Access Training that way. I did ring a few places actually, but when I spoke to the team at Access Training, we just kind of got on. I then got invited to come and have a look at the centre and see the training in action, before actually putting any money down.

 

Q: What were your first impressions when you came?

Everything looked really good, everyone was working, and I was really impressed with the plumbing workshop that you've got there. And yeah, that's what made my decision. I signed up that day, there and then, and I think I started about a month and a half later.

 

Q: And the enrolment process was smooth?

Yeah it was, absolutely. Can't fault it.

 

Q: So obviously now you've moved on, and you're getting on with the online learning as well, so you're now able to redo the theory as many times as you want. How are you getting on with that? What sort of flexibility does that give you?

Do you know what? I think the online training is like a godsend. You're in a more relaxed environment, you're at home nine times out of ten, so you've got the time to sit down and fully concentrate. You can take breaks when you need to, you can go over and recap. I like to watch things; seeing things in action helps me to remember them, so if I'm reading something and I don't quite understand or I'm not quite getting it, I like to find a video of someone explaining it, and then I'll understand. So there's that benefit of it as well, because you can stop and start whenever you want.

 

Q: So it hasn't negatively impacted you, doing most of your training online?

No, not at all. You can do mock exams and different papers, and continue to do them until you get it right. Whereas when you're in a class, you only learn it once and then you leave. So again, I really like home-based learning; you still have to put the time in, but it definitely sticks in your mind more. I've enjoyed it.

 

Q: Do you think that helps you, when you come in for your practical training, the fact that your theory base is so much better?

Yes, because I reckon if you were to start with practical - or to sit your practical before your theory - you might get lost, trying to learn everything at once. So I think it's done the right way around. Then, when someone starts to explain more in depth, or uses a word you remember, you're able to ask questions there and then. So it definitely has a benefit.

 

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your training so far? I know you've already done additional training courses to add more strings to your bow. How have you found starting out in the industry, despite everything that's going on?

Fortunately for me, I have got a degree and other skills that I can always use - skills that actually do come in handy with my plumbing, because it is still based around homes and construction. But because I have been upskilling in areas I know will benefit me in the future, it looks good on the CV as well. And I may now be ahead of other people who've been doing it for ten years, because I've actually put my head down and said 'right, I need XYZ kind of trades behind me'. I'm doing my plumbing, and my Level 2 electrics, so that's really come in handy. Now I can apply for jobs that are based more around the Part P side, so I can get a bit more money from that, and I get a bit more hands-on in a different sense.

 

Q: With your new plumbing career, how are you finding it out there at the moment? There's obviously a lot of work around at the moment. Is that the case for you?

Definitely. There's a lot of work. Applying for a job isn't always straightforward, but the plumbing training definitely looks good on my CV. I have found that being a woman also gives me an edge, because I know there aren't many females in plumbing companies. I've found that with all my certificates and qualifications so far, employers are definitely interested. And it's given me the confidence to go out and do my own jobs privately as well.

 

Q: As I understand it, you're currently starting up a business on your own and having the best of both worlds, right? Do you feel like you've made the right decision by retraining and starting a new career?

Yeah, one hundred per cent. Retraining was definitely the best thing I ever did, and it was money well spent. At the time it probably doesn't feel like that, but if you put your head down and have a goal - a vision for where you want to be, and why you're doing it - then there'll be no stopping you. Because of the qualifications and the kind of practice you get with Access Training, you can absolutely go out there and be confident that you know what you're doing. I think especially as the government is pumping money into the trade industry, it looks like there's a long future in upskilling from where I am at the moment.

 

Q: So what's the next step in your career? You said you're moving into electrical work - where do you see that leading?

At the moment, I'm working on my brand, my logo and my website, and designing all of that. Because I have the skills to do it, I'm relying on myself to do all that. So that's the next step, plus maybe doing some emergency and weekend work.

 

Q: That's got to be quite exciting for you - to be developing all that stuff for yourself?

Yeah, it is. I mean, I've never opened a business, and for anyone to start out doing that, it's quite daunting. But I like to do my research and know what I'm doing, and kind of get my feet in there. So it's exciting, and I'm hoping that will kick off in the next couple of months, because I don't think there's a better time to do it than while we're in lockdown. There are more people staying at home, and they're doing more things to their houses, or they've got more time to have someone in to do work. And a lot of people I speak to have struggled to keep a good plumber or find someone they trust. I'd like to think that I have that kind of rapport with people; even if I don't know you, I'm always thinking of the customer and wanting to give the best possible service. I always explain what I'm doing, and that always pays off and works really well.

 

Q: And obviously, there are lots of resources on the Access Training portal to help you do all of that. You have contacts at the centre that you can still use, and your tutors can still help you once you've left.

Yeah, absolutely. I cannot fault anyone from the college at all - any time I've had a question or an email, they've always responded, even if it's a day or two later. They've always been so helpful. All the tutors, including yourself of course Jamie; I speak to Emma and the girls in the office; everyone's been helpful, and everything is transparent. There's nothing you don't know.

 

Q: I suppose the fact that we're still in touch proves your point!

Of course! And the great thing about that is that, if I explain my situation and tell you I need X, Y and Z, you can find a way to help that suits me. That's really been the forefront of it for me, to be honest: the fact that you really get to know the guys at the college. I imagine you go to other training centres, and once you've left, they think they don't need to know you. But with you guys, it's been a long time since I finished, and we're still in contact, as you say. I've come back now to do my electrical training and things like that - that's thanks to you guys.

 

Q: Finally, what kind of advice would you give to someone else looking to change careers right now - someone who's stuck in a rut? They might be on furlough or something, so how would they go about retraining?

I know there are people out there facing a really bad situation, and when I was looking to retrain, I was too. But I took the risk. I knew what I needed to do, and when I went with you guys, I used the last money I had to do it - and it was so worth it. All of you were so accommodating; if there were ever any issues, you guys helped. So my advice for anyone out there who's thinking about it is this: you just need to take that leap and do it. It's investing in yourself. You can never go wrong investing in yourself. Before you know it, if you put your head down, you could be ready to start before you realise.

 

Q: Thank you so much for your time, Leah, and best of luck for the future!

Thank you for everything!

* * *

And there you have it. You don't need to take our word for it - just look at Leah as an example of how retraining can change your life.

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Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

‘Infrastructural output is expected to lift the whole [construction] industry over 2021 and 2022’ – Professor Noble Francis, CPA economics director.

 

 

 

 

2021 is already promising to be a surging year of growth and productivity for the construction industry, as forecasted by the Construction Products Association (CPA). 

Economic experts at the company are predicting what they call a ‘W-shaped’ economic recession and recovery, and a rise of 14% output as the year progresses. This number is incredibly significant, as construction industry output initially fell by 14% as lockdowns were first imposed on the UK back in March 2020. A 14% rise will return output levels to pre-pandemic levels, putting the construction industry back on its feet.

And that’s not all. CPA’s economic advisors also predict a further 5% increase into 2022. As vaccines are rolled out across the country, opportunities for continued productivity are only going to increase. 

A strong recovery in the latter half of 2020, with construction sites reopening sooner than expected and demand at an all-time high, means that the construction industry is set to be among the trailblazing industries which will greatly support the UK through troubling economic times ahead. 

But what does this mean for workers in the trade industry? It means that, after all the difficulties faced in the past, the years ahead will be an incredibly busy and highly productive era for construction. It means that trade workers will be very highly sought after, well paid and not short of work. 

Most importantly, it means that now is an excellent time to be in the trade industry.

 

‘Projects have been able to effectively enact safe operating procedures [...]. Main works on HS2, Europe’s largest construction project, along with offshore wind and nuclear projects, are expected to be the main drivers of activity’ – Professor Francis.

 

Not only are the larger-scale projects thriving, but domestic work is also on the increase, as figures show a public confidence in tradespeople entering their homes and working safely. The demand for home improvement projects has soared after time spent in lockdown, and self-employed tradespeople are particularly reaping the rewards as the public need their services more than ever. 

Broken boilers, electrical faults, heating issues, are not problems which go away under lockdowns – they are highly important for safety and domestic comfort, and prove just how essential tradespeople are in the lives of millions.

And so for those who are not currently trained but are thinking about changing careers, there is simply no time to waste. You don’t want to look back at this period, perhaps still stuck in an unrewarding and uncertain job, and regret not becoming qualified as a tradesperson. You don’t want to wait for hindsight to tell you what you should have done. You need to assess what’s best for you moving forward, and take a leap that could potentially change your life.  

Economic projections, percentage figures and lofty statements, might seem distant and unimportant to the everyday worker stuck in lockdown after lockdown. But what they do tell us, is that tradespeople will play a crucial part in the years ahead. 

Work will be abundant, pay will be good, and healthy and rewarding careers will be possible. All you need are the qualifications, the determination, and the foresight to invest in yourself, and invest in your career. 

Give Access Training a call and enquire about a course – they can take it from there.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re now already making headway into 2021, and our new year’s resolutions have likely already fallen by the wayside. But this is one resolution that is worth sticking to: getting your career and future on track. 

At the turn of 2021, Access Training was featured in a ‘Top Ten’ list by The Sun newspaper, naming it as one of ten companies in the UK that can significantly change your life around for the better. 

 

It touches on the difficulty of 2020 for thousands, stating that ‘many industries have been hit hard’, the downfall of this ‘resulting in mass redundancies’ – and they are not wrong. 1.7 million people have been made redundant since the outset of the pandemic, and this is unfortunately predicted to rise to 2.6 million by the middle of this year

If you’re in an uncertain career, trapped in an endless furlough limbo, then this must be taking its toll on your mental health and your ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s no life to live, being constantly in the dark about what’s to come, or where the next payment will come from, and what life will be like beyond furlough and the pandemic. Will there still be a career left for you at the end?

Thankfully, the construction industry is still on its feet, to say the least. It has been named among the two highest industries in the UK which has more job vacancies than it did pre-pandemic. Tradespeople have been kept in such high demand, with work and productivity sky high, and worker’s rates have gone through the roof and look likely to rise as 2021 progresses. That’s more work and more money in your pockets for it. It truly is now or never to become trained in construction. 

The Sun identified Access Training’s importance in getting the show back on the road, as it describes the ‘bespoke, industry-leading, fast-track training’ which we provide. For thousands of people, we have already transformed careers and futures by giving them new opportunities, new skills, and new qualifications. Employers have snapped them up, or they’ve gone out for themselves and started businesses. It’s an exciting and fulfilling career, and it’s one that you need to be a part of. 


So, listen to The Sun, and give Access Training a call to make your year one worth remembering. Make 2021 the year that you bounced back after a tumultuous 2020; make it the year that you made your future happen. If you’re good with your hands, good with your head, and willing to work hard at learning a new skill – then what are you really waiting for?

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

With the arrival of a new year comes the beginning of a new era; a chance to reflect on what has been, and speculate on what is to come. 

We can now see with some clarity how the construction industry fared under two lockdowns, heavy restrictions, and an unprecedented global crisis. Most importantly, we can see where it might be heading next. And judging by the promising words of industry leaders and new statistics, it did pretty well considering the circumstances.

The take-home message is that 2021 will be a year of ‘gradual and sustained recovery’ for the construction industry, according to industry experts. And this growth is not limited to 2021, but at least to the next two years beyond that. In other words, the next three years will be a time of high productivity, high employment, and general positivity for the construction industry. But how did construction get so lucky?

The critical factor undoubtedly lies in the ability of construction workers, industry leaders, and organisations, to open up their sites quicker than expected when restrictions were loosened in the summer of 2020. By the time the second lockdown came about in November, it became clear that the construction industry did not need to shut down entirely. Sites could still operate safely, following social distancing measures, and so Boris Johnson officially gave permission for sites to remain open under a lockdown.

But things could have been so different. In the second quarter of 2020, following the pandemic, construction productivity fell by 36%. We avoided a full construction closure only because the industry is so important to the country’s economy; in 2016 it accounted for 9% of the entire economy, adding £138 billion to its value. We just can’t do without it.

And that’s why industry leaders are fighting to ensure that, even in such dire circumstances as we still face at the beginning of 2021, the construction industry remains open and functioning. So much depends upon it, that the new Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, wrote an open letter to make the case for the construction industry remaining open again: 

 

‘It is vital that construction continues through these unsettling times, and I want to reassure you that the government values the crucial contribution your sector is making. [...] I want to make it clear that where it is essential to travel or to stay in accommodation, whether to get to work or for the purposes of carrying out your work, those in the [construction] industry are able to do so’.

 

This ringing endorsement of the construction industry just goes to show that, if the prospect of becoming an electrician, gas engineer, carpenter, plumber, or any role within construction appeals to you – then you will have the government’s support and the freedom to work at a time when thousands of people are out of a job

The proof is truly in the numbers. A survey conducted by the CHAS found that 56% of construction businesses they questioned have all their staff now back in work, and of the 44% that don’t, 43% said staff are on furlough. 

The security of construction jobs comes as no surprise when you look at the industry’s performance in the second half of 2020. Output grew by 41.7% in September, the biggest quarterly growth since records began in 1997. Work on new housing grew by 88.7%, driven by a 102.9% growth in public housing. Private housing and infrastructure grew above their pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. 

It’s mouth-watering stuff for those in the industry, and should be highly appealing for those outside it who are looking for job security. Now is your chance to get your foot in the door of construction and give yourself a career. If your job is looking increasingly like a lost cause, stopping and starting when rules allow, with redundancy a likely exit, then look no further. 

You can become anything you set your sights to, with a call and some commitment. We can take it from there.

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

 

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