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.

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.

Average weekly earnings for self-employed construction workers are continuing to skyrocket beyond pre-pandemic levels, as Hudson Contract’s last month’s payroll data has recently been made public. 

According to Hudson Contract, the UK’s largest supplier of tax status and employment contract services in the construction industry, last month saw the average weekly earnings for self-employed tradespeople rise to £904, giving skilled workers an extra £124 per month. And this is just the average, and varies from region to region within England and Wales. In the East Midlands, for example, labour costs have hit an all-time high at £1,014 a week.

 

Self-employed tradespeople

 

This is following a continuous surge in demand as the construction industry, and indeed other projects around the UK, get back on their feet. The construction sector, along with the country, has been injected with a surge of energy, following the introduction of regeneration, housing and infrastructural projects which are already underway. The opportunities and necessity for skilled workers is breath taking, and is being reflected by these figures of rocketing wages. 

The cost of skilled labour rose by 3.6% in July of this year, a rise which arrived at a fortuitous time for the industry: Hudson Contract reported in June that the construction sector saw the most substantial rise in earnings out of any UK sector since the beginning of the pandemic, at an enormous 14% increase. Earnings have been steadily rising throughout this year too, with evident growth from March through to the present time. In May, average weekly earnings were up 20% on pre-pandemic levels.

This substantial increase in weekly average pay is generating a very hopeful and vibrant feeling within the construction industry. Hudson Contract, the largest UK supplier of tax status and employment contract services for those working in the construction industry, have given indicators over the past year and a half of the superb health of the construction industry. 

 

Managing Director of Hudson Contract, Ian Anfield, exudes this optimism, and gives the healthy state of the housing market as one of the reasons for this continued surge in high productivity for the industry and high pay for workers: 

 

‘The housing market is booming with the price of the average UK home increasing by nearly £25,000 over the last year’, he says, and predicts that this advantageous state of affairs will be likely ‘to continue for the foreseeable future’. 

 

He puts this down to ‘big infrastructure investments’, backed by the government ‘as part of its “leveling up” agenda, which is adding to confidence in the sector’. 

Hopeful and confident times indeed for the construction industry, though there are, as ever, notable challenges ahead. Anfield notes that ‘shortages in building materials and skilled labour’ is one such obstacle, compounded by the global pandemic, after-effects of Brexit and the like. 

But one way of solving this issue is to ensure that potential skilled workers are aware of the multifarious opportunities for professional and personal growth within the construction industry at present – judging by the statistics and expert opinions, these conditions are only set to improve, with higher wages and higher demand ever on the horizon. 

Now is the perfect time to become trained as a tradesperson – this is indisputable. Train as a tradesperson now in order to reap the benefits of a healthy sector – the healthiest in the UK – which is repaying the price of training ten times over. Becoming a tradesperson is a lifelong investment, a quick way into a rewarding, fulfilling, and financially secure career. It will equip you with the skills, employability, self-confidence and discipline you’ve been looking for, and will give you work to be proud of. 

That £1000 a week could be yours in no time – all it takes is a call to Access Training. 


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

We are approaching a time where the lives of thousands of young people are at a crossroads. Significant life decisions are due to be made: whether to continue with further education in university, or go down the vocational trade route

Despite having their own perceptions and stereotypes, these two routes are not so different from each other; you can achieve great levels of success travelling along both paths. However, it might surprise you to discover that our typical impressions of the trade industry are different to what we are brought up to expect. 

Alternatives to University 

 

1. Apprenticeships & Traineeships

If you’d prefer not to pay the thousands of pounds for tuition fees at university, but still need to acquire valuable skills and qualifications, then an apprenticeship or traineeship might be the best route for you. Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to experience the world of employment whilst earning a decent wage; you’ll also gain a qualification on completion.

In essence, it’s like paid work experience in your chosen field, and one which will greatly increase your employability. Combining valuable work experience and training will give you the necessary skills to start your chosen career path. Today, apprenticeships and traineeships are not restricted to the traditional trade routes alone - they include a vast range of careers, from engineering to accountancy, publishing to veterinary science.

2. Gap Year

If you’re still undecided about which direction you want to take by the time you finish school, there is no need to despair. People don’t always know for sure what it is they want to do, perhaps not until years later. Gap years are an increasingly popular choice for people in this situation. Taking time to consider all your available options, give yourself a break from education, and perhaps get some life experience working or travelling, can certainly be beneficial.

It might also be an opportunity to gain new qualifications in your spare time and enhance your personal statement or CV to improve your employability.

3. Get a Job

Not everybody is destined for an academic route. And it’s perfectly acceptable to hop off the education train after your GCSEs or A Levels and head straight into the working world. If you aren’t interested in an academic future, but would much rather get your hands stuck in, the last thing that’ll appeal to you after finally leaving school is... well, more school A good option for you could be to cash in on the qualifications you’ve earnt at your time in school and begin your working life at 16 or 18 years old. If you have the right attitude and are hard working, you could find yourself moving from rung to rung on the career ladder in no time.

4. A Career in the Trade Industry

Tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians and gas engineers are thriving off the skills shortage that's currently plaguing the industry. As a result, the trade industry is set to boom. In addition to this, with a rapidly rising UK population and huge housing and road developments proposed for the future, tradespeople are virtually guaranteed a healthy, stable and rewarding career.

With a huge workforce needed to make these developments happen, as well as the maintenance and installation of appliances for years to come, a career as a tradesperson could be the perfect for you.

Trades vs University 

Outdated stereotypes and preconceived notions have caused the trade industry to be disregarded as a plausible alternative to university. Below, we observe the results of a recent study commissioned by Selco, which surveyed 500 manual skilled workers to see how they are faring in the trade industry. Here we consider the real benefits of all career options.

 

trades vs univeristy - best path for school leavers

 

Trades vs University: Financial Security

The most startling figures uncovered by Selco determine that tradespeople are, on average, far more financially stable than students after their education is complete. While the average student debt is around £45,000, the typical tradesperson’s debt is at only £5,600

This can be explained by the fact that tradespeople are able to earn a salary much earlier on in their careers; vocational training courses also tend to be shorter and more inexpensive than university courses. Students will typically have to wait beyond their graduation until they can find employment, and are then playing catch-up to pay back their fees. 

Having fewer debts allows for greater financial flexibility and even opportunities for investment. 70% of tradespeople asked have savings, and ⅓ said they invested their earnings in ventures such as property, stocks and shares, or crypto currency, allowing them to grow their wealth and continue to remain financially stable. Such opportunities seldom lend themselves to students who have to scrimp and save throughout their degrees. 

Not only are tradespeople earning earlier in their lives, but they are typically earning more, sooner. A living wage can be expected to be earnt by age 22 as a tradesperson, and while this is also a possible achievement for a university graduate, it can take as long as age 29 before they can earn the same.

 

Trades vs University: Lifestyle

73% of tradespeople asked in the survey said that they were happy with their jobs, which is considerably higher than the average figure of UK job satisfaction, between 41-65%. 

But why is this figure significantly higher than the rest of UK workers? The primary reason is undoubtedly about a sense of pride. 72% of the tradespeople in the survey said that pride was the single most fulfilling element of their job happiness. 67% answered that the satisfaction of hard work was the reason, 54% gave a sense of responsibility, 49% suggested that it was the confidence generated by trade work, 37% noted the work’s required dedication, while 34% put it down to the demand for focus. 

It goes without saying that work in the trade industry requires all of these characteristics, as of course do other academic vocations. However, it’s far easier to enjoy and to feel pride in your work while you’re earning and feel yourself progressing, rather than slipping into an ever steeper pit of debt.

 

Trades vs University: Home Ownership

Statistically, you are more likely to be a homeowner at a younger age as a tradesperson than as a student – three years younger, to be exact – and are typically leaving home one year sooner than your student equivalents. 

Tradespeople are generally homeowners by the time they are 27, whereas the rest of the UK are on average aged 30 before they are given the keys to their own place. Not only this, but 44% of tradespeople are likely to have owned multiple properties than average workers, and 1 in 6 tradespeople will have statistically owned more than one property at the same time.

 

Trades vs University: Settling Down

The decisions you take after leaving school can impact things further down the line, and according to the results of this survey, these can be as significant as how soon you get married and have children. 

Along with home ownership, tradespeople are typically married and settled, and will even have had their first child, at an earlier age than their student counterparts. The average male tradesperson’s marriage happens on average five years earlier than other men, and for women this is three years earlier. 

Tradespeople will statistically have had their first child by the age of 26 – this is two years before the female average (28), and a whopping seven years before the male average (33). 

 

Trades vs University: Success

Success in life is ultimately subjective, and can be measured in a number of ways. By no means is it true that the life of a tradesperson is necessarily any more successful than that of a university student, and it goes without saying that, you can make the most of any decision you make. 

It’s worth emphasising that the trade industry can be an option for a highly successful career, perhaps more so than is typically expected. 1 in 4 tradespeople have gone on to start their own businesses, and have taken their futures into their own hands. It’s a career which offers promise, growth, self-discovery, and autonomy. 

Unfortunately, a debt-free life is no longer a guarantee for anyone, but university graduates are particularly vulnerable in today’s job market. Job security is increasingly hard to find in the wider world, but the trade industry is providing this secure option for thousands of people. 

The trade industry could be the safety net – and even saving grace – for you and your future. Access Training is one of the UK’s biggest training companies, and can provide you with the skills and direction you need to invest in your future and establish your career.

Become a Fully-Qualified Tradesperson with Access Training

If a career in the trade appeals to you more than going university, take a look at the courses available at Access Training today.


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

READ MORE: The Benefits of Retraining in the Trades Industry

 

The moment we have all kept in the back of our minds has now arrived. As of July 1st, the shift has begun towards the end of the furlough scheme.

553,000 people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, and the furlough scheme has undoubtedly been responsible for this number being as relatively low as it is. At its peak, 10 million people were benefiting from furlough, while the overall cost to the government has been a knee-shaking £66bn. 

As of April 2021, 3.4 million people were still on furlough, a fall from 5.1 million in January. This number is still declining – by the end of May it was at around 2.4 million, according to HMRC figures, and current estimates for June are between 1.3-1.9 million. 

This tapering of furlough means that, from July 1st onwards, employers must contribute 10% of their employees’ wages for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, while the government contributes 70% where it previously covered 80%.

Between August and September, employers will then have to raise their portion to 20% of employees’ wages, while the government’s input drops to 60%. As of September 30th, the scheme will end entirely, and employers will pay the full amount once again. 

This is causing anxiety to both employers and employees alike, for obvious reasons, and numerous questions are being raised. Will the economy be back on its feet enough to sustain paying full wages again? Is September 30th yet another arbitrary deadline which will inevitably be extended? Or is this the real deal? 

It seems pretty set in stone. PM Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are determined to make this the final chapter of furlough support, with Johnson commenting that, ‘on the basis of what we can see now in the data … we don’t think we’ll need to change’. After the previous four extensions, the government will be highly reluctant to venture for a fifth furlough. Unless something drastic happens, with a large rise in infections and further restrictions necessary, it seems that September 30th is the final full stop to furlough.

September 30th is, in the government’s eyes, sufficient time to give businesses a chance to reopen and get back on their feet, and to prevent the need for another extension. From then on, they’re by themselves – employers will have to decide whether to take full time employees, or to make them redundant, unless another extension is decided. But for how long can this game of cat and mouse continue? 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng adds to this sense of furlough finality, though tries to offer reassurance: 

‘The furlough isn’t simply being switched off. All we’re saying is that the employer should contribute something to the payroll, and then over time, over the next three months, the furlough will be taken away. It’s a difficult balanced decision to make, the furlough wasn’t going to last forever’. 

 

We knew this all too well, but the shock is still going to be heavy for a large number of people. Many business leaders believe that September 30th is an insufficient amount of time to be able to take on employees full time, and so the likelihood is leaning towards redundancy. Redundancy is becoming an inevitability for potentially hundreds of thousands of people.

Terry George, who owns the Mission night club in Leeds, as well as other hospitality venues, is fully anticipating having to make many of his staff redundant by the time September 30th arrives. ‘We can’t afford to pay people out of a pot that has no money coming in. We’re going to have to lose some staff’. 

What’s worse, is that we may have less time than it seems. September 30th might be the cutoff, but it’s perfectly clear to employers where things are headed. Every month between now and September is going to cost employers more money in wages – money that they don’t have. 

Redundancies will likely begin sooner rather than later, though perhaps not immediately. Hargreaves Lansdown personal finance analyst Sarah Coles has suggested that, although ‘they might not make anyone redundant on day one, their jobs will be under increasing threat as time goes on and government help is withdrawn further’. 

It might not be an instant change, then, but that’s not necessarily cause for hope. The possibility of a later redundancy is strong. The Institute for Fiscal Studies backs this speculation in their recent statement: ‘With the cost of keeping employees on furlough rising, we therefore expect to see rising redundancies over the summer even before the final end of the scheme.’ 

Realistically, there is only one way out of this. It is to embrace a change of career, to invest in your future and protect yourself from a crumbling job market. If you are still on furlough after all this time, and have not been able to resume work, the chances of facing redundancies are not slim. The next few months could see you out of work, and bereft of crucial government support.

But one sector of security, as proved by the stability of the last year, is the construction industry. Swathes of people have left their old jobs to begin afresh as a tradesperson, or have balanced retraining with their old job to supplement their falling wages. People have taken this time to upskill, to add to their employability, so that when things are back to normal, there is a career there waiting for you. 

The construction industry has survived first, second, third waves of lockdown. Trade work has still been able to continue despite restrictions, thanks to the efficiency and professionalism of its workers. The flexibility and adaptability of the industry has meant that crucial work has been able to go ahead. 

But what is clear is that construction work simply cannot be put on pause for long. Whether it’s large scale infrastructural work or domestic projects, people need tradespeople to keep working, to keep pushing through. Demand has not dwindled for a second, and has in fact continued to rise. Wages have not fallen, they have risen. Job vacancies have not been swallowed up, they continue to offer opportunities to workers. 

We need skilled, qualified tradespeople more than ever. And in the next three months, a career in construction might be the thing that makes the nightmare of the past year go away. All it takes is that burst of self belief, to take your future into your own hands, and not fall victim to furlough’s end.


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

The proposed furlough phase out over the next three months is causing trepidation and concern for workers and employers alike. September 30th will see all government furlough support come to an end, preceded by a three month process whereby employers are increasingly responsible for paying their workers’ wages. 

From September 30th onwards, employers will have to decide between taking on their previously furloughed workers full time, or making them redundant. It is becoming increasingly evident that the impact of this decision is going to fall heavier on a certain portion of the working population. 

People aged between 55 and 64 are currently the highest portion of the workforce who are still being furloughed. More than 1 in 4 of workers in this age bracket (26%) have had to remain on furlough for the duration of lockdown. And so in the latter half of this year, where redundancies are not only likely but inevitable, this group of workers will most likely feel the brunt of the impact. 

This situation has come about as the result of certain industries, such as hospitality and leisure, opening up sooner than others. These industries in particular have a large portion of young people working in them, and so most furloughed workers are in the older age brackets, and are now more financially vulnerable. Only 6% of currently furloughed workers are aged between 35-44, and 16% are aged between 18-34. The Resolution Foundation, who are responsible for conducting this study, explains: 

 

‘The rapid fall in furlough rates driven by the reopening of sectors like hospitality and leisure, which disproportionately employ younger workers, the age profile of over 1.5 million employees still on furlough is changing.’

 

Not only are older people likely to be unfairly impacted by changes to furlough, but even those still in work will have their wages cut significantly as redundancies take place. The Institute for Fiscal Studies anticipates that

 

 ‘Tens of thousands of workers will suffer a steep fall in income as employers react by making redundancies. It will mean big income losses for many of those who end up unemployed unless they are swiftly able to find alternative employment’.

 

The only other safety net beyond furlough is the universal credit scheme. But the government is conveniently planning a £20-a-week reduction in universal credit support in September, coinciding with the end of furlough. This double blow might leave even more people in jeopardy, without jobs or safety net. 

Of course, swiftly found alternative employment is not common at the best of times. Changing career at the drop of a hat is not something many people are forced to go through, and it can be a daunting prospect to say the least. But circumstances are looking likely to force perhaps tens of thousands of people in this direction. 



The construction industry, however, has been the lifeline that thousands of people have needed. It is perfectly suited to those people who are looking to make a fresh start, and as working prospects are squeezed once again, embarking on a career as a tradesperson has never been a better option. 

Access Training has seen a large number of people retraining and upskilling in order to continue working and have professional prospects beyond furlough. We have been retraining professionals for decades, since long before Covid, and know how to prepare people for long-term, fulfilling employment in the construction industry.

Among our previous students looking to embark on a new career path, we have had teachers, chefs, taxi drivers, lawyers, entertainers – a great range of backgrounds, professions, and ages. The reason for this appeal is quite simple: tradespeople have been able to continue working throughout the last year, despite lockdowns and all other kinds of obstructions. A great many construction projects have been able to go ahead, meaning that work has been able to continue whilst navigating restrictions. 

Demand for tradespeople has been consistently high, and so are wages. Again, the reasons are simple. Before the pandemic, the construction industry was already experiencing a skills shortage, meaning that work for tradespeople has long been plentiful and well paid. Brexit has meant that a considerable amount of the workforce from the EU have become unavailable, again opening up the opportunities and strong need for more tradespeople from the UK. 

Covid has only continued this high demand for skilled tradespeople, and the construction industry has since become a beacon of hope for those out of work, or whose prospects on furlough are not looking promising. It is not looking to change anytime soon, either, with large-scale building projects scheduled for the next decade all across the UK. It is widely documented that wages and working opportunities are rising. 

In short, now could not be a better time to retrain in the construction industry. If you have a head on your shoulders, are good with your hands and problem solving, then a trade might be the career you’ve been looking for all your life. 

If the warning signs ahead are anything to go by, then furlough is not going to provide a happy ending, and may leave you in a vulnerable position. Use the remaining time ahead to prepare yourself for the worst, and invest in a new professional direction. You’ll never look back.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen. 

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. 

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