This year, the United Kingdom has been facing its biggest skills shortage for a generation. There are huge talent gaps across a number of professions, including bricklaying and plumbing.

The scarcity of plumbers is now having large repercussions as we enter the winter months; not only are a number of construction firms having to cancel or delay new projects, a number of private firms are finding themselves unable to cope with the increased demand for plumbing maintenance and repair this winter. The country’s shortage of plumbers (combined with the increase in sick leave that’s to be expected at this time of year) is leaving older/vulnerable people without heating and hot water for extended periods of time.

In Sunderland this week, a diabetic pensioner went for 40 hours without heating or hot water because an emergency repair team was unable to cope with demand. It is reported that they had 10 emergency plumbers that were supposed to be working over the weekend; however, seven of the ten plumbers were off because of illness. This is not an isolated case, nor is it a regional shortage. This scenario is common throughout the whole of the United Kingdom.

The current skills shortage means that people who are willing to gain the skills to become a qualified plumber are getting heavily rewarded for their work. Fully qualified plumbers can earn between £1,200 and £1,800 a week, and because of the skills shortage, there is no shortage of work available. In short: there has never been a better time to enrol on a plumbing training course and gain the qualifications needed to become a professional plumber.

We at Access Training offer a large variety of trade training courses, from plumbing courses for people who have no or limited plumbing experience through to courses designed for professional plumbers looking to refresh their knowledge or to gain extra skills.

So, no matter where you live, what your circumstances are, or what your experience level is, we are confident that we have the perfect course for you.

Click here to view our plumbing training courses.

Now that we've entered August it's fair to say that the summer holidays have properly started, and school children aren't going to have to even think about school for another month. But what about those 18 year olds who are just coming out of sixth form/college? It's not so easy for them as they won't be going back in September - it's time for them to think about the next step in their lives.

For many university will be the most obvious route, engaging in another 3+ years of education with a qualification and a heap of debt at the end of it. And what job is that qualification likely to get you? With most graduates struggling to get jobs relevant to their degrees, they are now beginning to fill lower-level positions that would usually be taken by those who haven't gone to uni and want to work their way up into a career via experience. So where does that leave them? As you can guess, its a pretty big problem and calls into question just how useful some degrees are in landing you your 'dream' job.

But there are other reasons one might not want to go to university. After over a decade of timetables and school work, some people might want to put that behind them and move onto something different. Instead of more sitting at a desk and writing, there are practical options out there that will keep your working life active and varied. And of course, there is that matter of student loan/tuition fee debt that I briefly mentioned earlier...

With the demand for skilled tradespeople at an all-time high thanks to a construction boom and renewed interest in housebuilding, those looking for a direction outside of university may be perfectly suited to becoming a plumber, gas engineer, electrician, carpenter, plasterer, tiler, bricklayer or decorator. Or even a number of the above! But once again, there are a few ways to go about it.

One option is to take up a college course in your chosen trade. Not a bad option, but there are a few things to think about. These courses can take around two years to complete, which means once again resigning yourself to a strict regime of timetables. There's also the fact that colleges have to budget  their wide variety of courses, which means there's every possibility you could find yourself with facilities not quite as ideal as you might have hoped for.

The alternative? Completing an intensive training course with a private trainer, where you'll be able to earn your skills and qualifications in a matter of weeks. This probably sounds impossible to many of you, but with the right tutelage from experienced tradesmen in a state-of-the-art facility the combines the very best practical and theory training it's more than possible. And with a private trainer their ONLY focus is on the facilities and the training they provide, so you know that your chosen trade is a key subject for them.

Sound like the path you want to take? Then get in touch with Access Training Academies and book your training course today. We specialise in a wide variety of trades training courses, each manned by tutors with many years' experience in the business. All of our courses are accredited by leading awarding bodies such as City & Guilds, Logic and more, and designed to take you from a beginner level all the way to that of a trained professional. Not only that, but we keep our classes to a minimal size to allow the most one-to-one student/tutor time possible, so that you know you're getting the care and attention you paid for. Following completion of your course, you'll be ready to start your brand new career and even have the abilities to go self-employed should you so wish. Its your choice what path you choose but one thing is definitely for sure - you'll have earned yourself skills for life that are constantly in demand, and as such enjoy constant work with impressive wages.

This August, have a think about where you want your life to head next. And if you like the sound of this, give Access a call on 0800 345 7492.

It's always been said that plumbers are constantly in demand, but did you know that said demand is so high that many existing plumbers are working well over 48 hours a week? It isn't just the customers that need more fully-trained professional plumbers, it looks like the plumbers themselves could use a bit of help too!

A new survey carried out by plumbing assurance scheme WaterSafe found that over half of UK plumbers are working over the maximum working hours with the Working Time Directive. Along with the 54% working over 48 hours, 26% are working between 40-48 hours - with only 13% working between 35-40 hours. What does this mean? Well, 94% of the plumbers spoken to thought that their long hours are having a negative impact on their family and social life.

So what's causing these unhealthy work shifts? 61% said that they've had to extend their working hours over the last ten years, and when asked 77% thought that the recession had impacted their business. Aditionally, 41% commented that customers think that cost is the most important factor when hiring a plumber, rather than who is suitably qualified for the job.

CIPHE CEO and WaterSafe board member Kevin Wellman said it was "concerning" to see such a large proportion of plumbers having to work such long hours in order to meet consumer demand.

He added: "It's important that the industry steps up to addresses this issue because overworked, tired plumbers could potentially result in unsafe installations and have a negative impact on their home life. Moreover, if we want to encourage young people into the industry we need to ensure hours are realistic and the industry is a well-regulated, safe place to work."

With more work available than what the current load of plumbers to handle, becoming a qualified plumber doesn't sound like a bad idea. And if you choose to take those skills and become self-employed, you'll be able to choose the hours you work. Overwork may be a problem for plumbers, but with self-employment you'll always have that option of stopping when you know you need to stop. Physical, varied, rewarding work with good pay and an opportunity for self-employment. Sounds perfect, but where do you start?

You start at the beginning of course, and that's with an intensive plumbing course with us here at Access Training. Working alongside our professional team of tutors, you'll work your way from a beginner all the way up to a trained professional, not only learning the practical skills needed but also the required theory and qualifications. Despite taking a fraction of the time it takes to complete a plumbing course in college, there's absolutely no skimping on quality as you work alongside tutors who've spent years in the plumbing industry. Not only will they be teaching you the relevant plumbing theory, but also offer their wisdom when it comes to working in the industry.

To find out more about our plumbing courses as well as all the other trades training we supply at Access, give our advice team a call on 0800 3457492 or fill in the online form found here on this website. The team are ready to answer all of your questions and explain things in more detail.

Last week we blogged about how Sky News came down to our centre to looking for women entering trade professions such as plumbing, electrics, painting/decorating, carpentry and more. In the morning they spent filming, Sky not only had a good look around our centre but also spoke to a few of our female trainees - and of course our carpentry tutor!

The filming was for a piece they've titled White Van Woman 'Held Back By Sexism', which suggests that the recent claim that women make up around 6% of all tradespeople might not be as accurate as people are claiming. In fact, they spoke to Women and Manual Trades and found that figure to be more like 1%. Despite trade careers not being pushed hard enough to school leavers, women account for one in ten of those signing up for training here at Access and hopefully that figure will continue to grow as the gender barriers are slowly broken down.

Following an interview with Stopcock's Hattie Hasan, the report takes a look at the training environment we have here at Access and speaks to trainee plumber Mary Henderson. Following that carpentry tutor Gary gives his input on why women should be encouraged more to take up trade careers.

The full video can be viewed below:

Link to full Sky News feature

UK weather isn't always the kindest of things and, after some especially bad wind and rain earlier this year, it seems Spring is finally settling in nicely. This good turn in the weather seems to be especially good for skilled tradespeople, with their demand reaching record numbers as homeowners use this time to repair, maintain and even improve their properties.

This information comes from Trustmark, the Government-endorsed quality mark and online search database for qualified plumbers, electricians, carpenters, plasterers and more. In just the last four months, the number of searches across all trades has increased by 79% compared to that of last year - putting the total figure for the year on track to double that of 2013.

Among the trades which saw the highest improvements were ones that would be needed to fix properties after the Winter's spell of bad weather, including expert roofers (up an incredible 915%), flood recovery specialists (198%), garden landscapers (94%) and tree surgeons (91%). While this seems like a huge proportion of the searches, it was in fact only around 24% for these months as homeowners were on the lookout for many other handymen and women to improve their homes. Here are just a few of the trades that have seen a sharp rise in searches this year, many of which we teach here at Access:

  • Plasterers and renderers (88%)
  • Plumbing and heating engineers (83%)
  • Air conditioning specialists (79%)
  • Painters and decorators (77%)
  • Handymen (77%)
  • Electricians (52%)

So if you've ever wondered how "in demand" these trades are, the figures should speak for themselves. If you've been considering a change of a career and qualifying in a construction trade then now is the perfect time to do so. And you can forget about college courses and apprenticeships that would take up to three years to complete - at Access Training we can get you fully trained and qualified to a professional standard in a matter of weeks.

And to make this idea all the more enticing, we're holding a special offer on all of our courses throughout May in celebration of our birthday. We're offering up to 50% off of all of our courses this month when the deposit is paid in full, however the course itself does not have to be sat in May - you can complete and complete it when you're ready to! For more information and to speak to one of our course advice team, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

Social media site for plumbers

Many of the plumbers reading this blog post will already be using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to promote their businesses. But did you know that there's now a dedicated social media network exclusively for the plumbing trade? Say hello to Connect.

Launched by leading shower/taps brand Bristan, Connect is an online platform that aims to provide installers with a dedicated area for them to get in touch with one another to share information or ask questions. Joining is completely free, and users will be able to upload images and videos of their work or products they think are worth recommending to others. In turn, the community will also provide news and information on the latest products, how-to tutorials, industry news and first access to promotional offers and discounts on Bristan's shower and tap products. It's the ultimate social media platform for plumbers!

Connect's creation was spurred on by Bristan's largest survey to date, which was conducted earlier this year. They found that many installers felt that there were few opportunities online for them to share information with each other. Signing up has been made as hassle-free as possible; you don't even need to create an all-new account! Instead, you can just sign up with an existing Facebook or Twitter profile. 

For more information you can visit the site at www.bristanconnect.com

Via HPM Magazine

Meanwhile, you can also keep up with Access Training on Facebook (link here) and Twitter (@accesstraining1). For more information on our range of trades training courses, which include plumbing, electrics, gas engineering, bricklaying, carpentry, tiling, plastering, painting/decorating and more - give our advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Plumbers are an incredibly important part of our society and most homeowners would be stuck without them. However if seems many are not getting the thanks and appreciation they deserve, with research revealing that UK plumbers are not only getting paid late but are often finding themselves chasing up said payments.

The survey from Worldpay looked at over 1000 tradespeople from across the country, and found plumbers have to chase their earnings up for around 27 weeks - almost twice as long as the average wait time of 15 weeks. More specific data found included that tradespeople are typically paid late once a month, with the annual total late payments owed coming to around £799. Worse still, most of this debt (£770) gets wiped off completely. Meanwhile the average figure for plumbers is significantly larger rising to upwards of £,948 a year. This resulted in over half of respondents admitting to have problems with their cash flow, in additional to worrying about damaging customer relationships and time wasted on chasing payments.

In an attempt to combat this, Worldpay have offered plumbers a few suggestions to help ensure they always get paid on time;

  • Offer customers a wider variety of payment methods. Out of the plumbers spoken to that were paid late in the last 12 months, 73% said that automated (ie card) payments are important for maintaining a regular cash flow.
  • When in doubt, check your customers' credit history. It costs a small fee, but could provide further information.
  • Ensure you have the name and details of the person(s) responsible for paying.
  • Make sure you have properly agreed contract terms. Getting proper legal advice from the get-go may seem like a hassle but could save a lot of time and money in the long run.
  • Consider charging interest on late payments. Making your customers immediately aware of this should hopefully put them off paying late.

With this advice in mind, attaining that dream of becoming a professional plumber should be one step easier. However before you can even think about businesses and payment options, you're going to need the necessery plumbing skills and the qualifications to prove it. Give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about our range of intensive plumbing courses.

With the UK becoming more and more aware of dodgy tradespeople thanks to the horror stories reported all over the media (and often on this very blog too!), more has to be done for consumers to be reassured that the people are hiring are honest and fully qualified. The gas industry has the Gas Safe Register, and electricians have any number of competent person schemes - what is there for plumbers?

In previous blog posts last year we introduced WaterSafe - the first plumbing body of its kind. Set up back in October 2013, this national assurance scheme is designed to recognise competent plumbers as well as protect homeowners and plumbing businesses alike. WaterSafe has the backing of all UK water suppliers and water quality regulators, having been developed by all seven existing Approved Contractors' Schemes. Although it hasn't been around long WaterSafe seems to be making a huge impression on the plumbing world, exceeding expectations and targets when it comes to membership figures.

Now WaterSafe have teamed up with BPEC to create a course that ensures plumbers receive all the qualifications required to join the scheme. The specially designed qualification is equivalent to the NVQ Level 2 and Water Regulations certificates - both of which are qualifications we offer here at Access Training Academies. So while the specialised course itself is still rolling out across the country (to date only three training centres in the UK have been given the go-ahead to run it), aspiring plumbers elsewhere should know that we can still offer them the means to eventually become part of this great (and FREE) scheme. 

To find out more about our intensive plumbing courses and the qualifications you'll need to be viewed as an experienced, competent and QUALIFIED plumber, give our course advice team a call on 0800 345 7492. Stamping out rouge tradespeople is something we all need to be a part of, and the first step toward doing that is properly setting them apart from the honest ones in the country such as yourself.

 

National Apprenticeship Week is fast approaching, and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is just one of the many groups drawing attention to just how important that are to the trade industry.

With university degrees proving to be less helpful in the job market, its not surprising that so many young people are turning towards different career paths when leaving school. Stable jobs are getting tougher and tougher to get into as Britain slowly climbs out of the recession, and when an employer has to make cuts new graduates are usually the ones that suffer. By learning a trade such as plumbing, electrics or any sub-sector of the construction industry, young people are providing themselves with skills for life that are often in demand for more than the skills most degrees yield.

According to the Office of National Statistics, over a quarter of university graduates are earning less than school leavers on apprenticeships. Not only this, but a survey by BAE Systems and the Royal Academy of Engineering also highlighted just how beneficial trades training courses can be. Almost a third of respondants (29%) said that they now see training schemes as a viable option for their children. They also admitted that five years ago it was something they would have never even considered.

CIPHE CEO Kevin Wellmen stressed just how important apprenticeships, specifically calling them the "lifeblood of the industry" and saying that they should be given the respect they deserve. He added: "For too long they have been seen as a second-class route to a career. I believe that attitude is now changing."

However, he also commented that the plumbing and heating industry needs its apprentices to be of the highest standard, which they should aim toward by achieving an NVQ diploma. This will "ensure they have the right skills to tackle the challenges they will meet in the workplace".

And where can you achieve an NVQ qualification? Access Training Academies of course! Our intensive training courses provide all the skill and quality you'd find in a college course, but in a fraction of that time. The tutors are all experiences tradesmen themselves, all with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with you in classes of no more than eight students to a tutor. With accredititation from the likes of City & Guilds, Logic, BPEC, NICEIC, the Gas Safe Register and more, you can rest assured that we put nothing short of 100% quality into all of our trade courses. To find out more, give our team a call on 0800 345 7492.

National Apprentice Week 2014 will take place from the 3rd to the 7th March. Stay tuned to this blog for more stories during that time!

As we've previously mentioned, Access Training have made a few changes to the way we run the Unvented Cylinders plumbing course recently. With the new City & Guilds syllabus our course follows, students are now required physically commission and maintain a cylinder in order to achieve the qualification. This is important as it will make sure candidates are physically familiar with unvented cylinders rather than just having a theoretical knowledge of how to handle them. Knowing in theory is all well and good, but this is one area inparticularly that can go wrong without the right skills and know-how.

An Unvented Cylinder is a hot water storage system that relies on storage cylinders fed directly from cold water mains and do not incorporate a vent pipe to relieve excess build-up pressure to atmosphere. The pressure for the hot water system is then derived from the mains pressure supply rather than a cold water storage tank. The advantages of using such a system include:

  • Balanced pressure in both hot and cold taps for showers
  • Higher water pressures available for hot taps
  • No storage cistern, eliminating any risk of contamination
  • Can be fitted anywhere in the house, making them suitable for one-storey dwellings
  • Quicker to install with less pipework and no cold storage tanks needed in the loft
  • Can possibly be used with smaller diameter pipework
  • Gives architects and service designers greater flexibility of design

Unvented cylinders are also the only systems currently used with renewable energy supplies such as ground & air heat pumps and underfloor heating, due to their nature of being almost 100% energy efficient. This makes them even more of an important thing as households strive to become greener and save energy (as well as money!).

However despite these numerous advantages installers should still show great caution and care when dealing with unvented cylinders, as failing to properly install them is extremely dangerous. Unvented hot water systems usually operate above atmospheric pressure and unless the right measures are taken to prevent overheating, the results can be quite explosive to say the least. Just have a look at this video of what can happen if adequate checks and protection haven't been made:

VIEW ON YOUTUBE

But don't let this video put you off them. As long as they are installed correctly with all of the proper safety precautions in place unvented cylinders are perfectly safe. All plumbers handling unvented cylinders are required to be qualified in accordance with Part G of the Building Regulations, which can be achieved through the Access Training Academies Unvented Hot Water Cylinders course.

For more information on our Unvented course or our wider range of intensive plumbing courses, please take a look at the plumbing section linked on the left hand side of the page. Alternatively, you can speak to our course advice team to have any questions you may have answered personally - simply call 0800 345 7492 or fill in the information form provided on this website.

2014 is already shaping up to be a big year for Access Training Academies, and today (the 13th January) marks the first steps we'll be taking to make your training experience here even better. This year ACS gas assessments will be returning to our Cardiff training centre.

Now students that complete their gas training at Access will be able to complete their Logic ACS (Accredited Certification Scheme) gas assessments here. ACS is the industry recognised and accepted route for students to enter into the gas industry, earning their gas certificate which is needed to become a member of the Gas Safe Register. This itself is a legal requirement to be able to work on all gas installations and appliances in the UK. These assessments will not only be available to those who have completed an extensive gas course here, but is also open to others who may have completed a gas course elsewhere.

Students will be able to complete both the written and practical assessments required to qualify, covering the CCN1 Core Domestic Gas Safety module and then any of the additional appliance assessments relevant to your area of work. This includes the CENWAT (Central Heating Boilers & Water Heaters) qualification, CKR1 (Cookers), HTR1 (Gas Fires) and more. For a full list of what we can offer you here at Access, please get in contact.

To find out more about ACS gas assessments, our plumbing training or any of the many other trades training courses we provide here at Access please get in contact with our course advice team on 0800 345 7492 or via the form provided on this website. They'll be more than happy to answer any further questions you might have, as well as arrange of a tour of our facilities so you can get a first-hand look at what we do.

Yesterday we wrote about research suggesting how much work plumbers stand to potentially lose from missed calls. However today pluming suppliers Plumbfix revealed that they are predicting a "social revolution" within the trade.

Tradespeople in general, not just plumbers and heating engineers, are all beginning to see social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a valuable and most importantly FREE way to advertise and create brand awareness. 8 out of 10 tradespeople are already using it as a way to reach more customers and two fifths believe having a page on a social media site will make them look more established. They don't even just use it for reaching customers, as a third of tradesmen even admitted to use it to check on their competitors and what services/prices they are offering.

Plumbfix's research revealed that almost half of tradespeople (48%) are already winning new business through Twitter and the like, and a larger proportion (68%) say their social media activity has increased since this time last year. 

Sandra Everett, the senior marketing manager at Plumbfix, stressed the importance of small businesses getting to grips with social media as members of the public are more likely than ever to go online in search of a tradesperson."As plumbers increase the amount of business tasks and transactions they undertake online, social media should be seriously considered as a cost-effective way to market themselves to more and more customers."

It isn't just tradespeople that are hitting up social media either - trading bodies and contractors are also extending their Twitter and Facebook presence. Even Access Training Academies have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts where any queries concerning our courses can be answered.

Via Installer Online