December may not seem like the most suitable time to be studying on a trades training course to become a professional tradesman, but the truth is these winter months are actually when plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, bricklayers and roofers are needed more than ever. With the end of the year just around the corner and the cold weather homing in on Britain, government-endorsed standards group Trustmark is warning owners to ensure that their homes are fully prepared before the harsh season hits.

Trustmark have already noted a rise in tradesperson viewings on their online database during October, which saw an a 36% increase in comparison to 2012. Across the trades roofers (32%), plumbers/heating engineers (35%) and electricians (20%) were the ones to see the biggest rise, and with heavy snow forecast until May 2014, these professionals are going to be needed more than ever.

Below is a list of quick spot checks Trustmark recommend doing to help reduce the risk of the winter weather causing damage to your home:

  • Most importantly, you should get your boiler and central heating checked/serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer. By making sure your boiler is in peak condition, it will burn far more efficiently - meaning it'll use less fuel AND be warmer. Checking your boiler/central heating also means that if there is any serious problems, you'll be avoiding any tragedy that could happen.
  • Make sure your insulation is in good quality. Not just your loft, but also look into lag pipes, water tanks and draught excluders.
  • Clean out gutters and outlets of any leaves and debris, followed by checking for any leaks or damage.
  • Look out for any damaged or loose tiles on your roof (from ground level to ensure your safety). Leep an eye out for any leaks or condensation appearing on the ceiling.
  • Make sure no exterior walls have any cracked, loose or missing pointing. If they do, be sure to get it fixed before water can get into it.

They also highly recommend keeping a useful list of phonenumbers of tradepeople in your area just incase of an emergency - plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, roofers, carpenters...whoever you might need if a problem should arise.

So if you're a tradesperson yourself, be prepared for your work to be more crucial to homeowners than ever - you never know when you're going to be needed. Alternatively, if you're looking to start a new career as a fully-qualified tradesperson now could be the perfect time to start. An intensive course from Access Training Academies can have you up and qualified in a matter of weeks - just in time to help those in need. To find out more about our range of courses, including plumbing, gas, electric and various construction trades, please give our advisers a call on 0800 345 7492.

With the construction trade experiencing significant growth over the last financial quarter, economists are forecasting a huge boom for the industry over the next four years. Obviously that makes it the perfect time to locate a suitable construction training course, get qualified and start a new career ready for this influx of work. But is this recession-worn Britain ready for the boom? Do we have enough quality construction training courses ready, or even enough interest generated for new recruits?

The construction industry has only just gotten itself out of a worker shortage, and the plastering and bricklaying trades are still struggling with recruitment. This also ties in with another problem the industry have, which is that a majority of the construction workforce is due to retire within the next 5-10 years. So we have a forecasted growth in output, a bulk of the workforce set to retire and trouble with recruiting new workers...no wonder the situation has been referred to as a "ticking time bomb" by some!

The first thing the UK needs to do is generate interest amongst young people. We've all heard the stories about university degrees not getting people very far in life so maybe it's time to give construction training a chance. Younger people need to be encouraged to take up a more physical career in the industry, and sold upon its strong points rather than put off by some of the stereotypes that go with it. Better pushing of the skills you learn, the variety of work and the rewards that come with it are sure to interest people, beginning them on their new career path and solving the problem of the retiring workforce.

That's the time bomb problem solved in the long run, but the industry is also working to a pretty strict deadline. People are retiring every day and construction demand is continuously rising - so we need skilled workers fast. There's plenty of construction training offered by college courses across the country, but two to three years is a long time to wait and their facilities are often lacking because resources are spread thinly across so many different areas. Intensive construction courses are the answer to this problem, offering the same level of skill and expertise (if not better), in only a fraction of the time. With centres entirely dedicated to construction training, students will also know that the focus is always on exactly what they're getting.

Take Access Training for example. Bricklaying, plastering, tiling, carpentry and painting/decorating all under one roof, with each one taught by an experienced professional. You can train in one trade, or even try your hand at them all with our tailor-made multiskills courses. And if you get the qualifications in your chosen trade and want to come back for more, we make it simply to continue on your training experience and build up your skillset even further.

So there we have it, some very crucial problems the construction industry faces before its big boom can get going properly, and some very obvious solutions to them. To find out more about Access' range of construction training and to book your place, please get in contact with one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492 today.

As a former All Black and Cardiff Blues rugby team captain, 36-year old Xavier Rush is someone sports fans have probably heard of. But after a successful sporting career at both domestic and international levels he’s finally hanging his boots up and moving on to the next stage of his life. Choosing to retrain to become a fully-fledged property developer, he approached Access Training Academies and recently completed our kitchen fitting course. Now he’s moving on toward even more qualifications to expand his trade resume and take on even more work.

We sat down with his to discuss his plans for the future and how he’s finding the change from a ball to a toolkit...

Now that you’ve retired, what’s next for Xavier Rush?

Now that I’ve finished my rugby career I knew I obviously needed to retrain in something. I’ve always enjoyed properties and doing them up so I’ve come here to get as many strings to my bow as possible. The more I can do the less people I’d need to get in for jobs and the less I’d need to pay out.

I first did carpentry when I was 18 and had just left school, but it’s great to have a facility so close to me and the speed at which you can build your skills up. I originally came to do kitchen fitting which I’ve completed, but there’s the Part P electrical component to it too which I’m doing now for the next two and a half weeks. After that I plan to crack on and do six weeks of plumbing as well!

How has the course been so far?

I’ve been really enjoying it and the tutors have been excellent. There’s always some things that you’re better at than others – some of the bends in the plumbing took some time to get my head around. But the more practice you have the better you get at it. You aren’t going to sail through every day – some days are worse than others but you often find once you’ve slept on it, you come back the next day and get it. It’s great to be learning new skills and really refreshing to have a change of career. A lot of people get a bit scared but I’m really looking forward to it – it’s life after rugby for me.

Will you miss the rugby life?

Of course there’s always aspects you will miss – the getting up for a big game like a Heineken Cup match, playing in front of a big crowd. I’ll miss those moments but there’s enough of them in the memory bank to call on every now and then. It’s nice to be on the other side of it now and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my career. I feel quite fortunate – it was a fairly long career and now I’m more excited about getting things started with my own business. It’s just time to move forward with life.

Look forward to more updates from Xavier Rush, who will be sharing his training experiences with us each week as he works towards his new qualifications. In the meantime if you have any questions you'd like to ask him about turning towards a brand new career, let us know on Twitter or Facebook and we'll pass the best ones onto him.

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