We could go on and on about why we feel Access Training is the best place to come for your trade qualifications, but our words don't mean anything unless the students we train can attest to the quality we aim to deliver. That's why we're going to start showcasing some of the positive feedback we've received about our range of intensive training courses, so that any of you reading that are on the fence can see that we really are dedicated to giving our candidates the best qualifications and practical trades training available. You can read more of the testimonials we've received in the past here.

After spending several years abroad, Mark Todd came home to kick start his new career on our Intensive Carpentry training course…

After leaving the Royal Marines around four years ago I got into working on maritime security on ships in East Africa. However after about 3 years I wanted to get a career back home, and I’ve always had an interest in carpentry. I’ve done a few little jobs here and there in the past but wanted to take it a bit further and get qualified.

I was originally going to go back to college but obviously that would have taken around two years to do. With Access Academies I’ve been able to come here and do the course in two months which has been so much better. I’ve come out of the course finishing on a Friday, then gone straight into a job the following Monday.

The eight weeks I’ve spent here have been excellent and I’ve really enjoyed my time. The tutors have been absolutely brilliant – I’ve learnt so much from them and they are always ready to give any advice you need. Not just with the work we do here, but if we’ve got anything else going on outside they’ll do the best they can to help which is really good of them to do off of their own backs. It really gets you raring to go – it got to the point in the last week where I just wanted to get out there and start working.

I’m about to start work with two carpenters doing some refurbishment in a nursing home. The work is ongoing, it’s local and I’ll be picking up experience from people who have been in the trade for 20 years each. Right now I still feel the need to carry on my learning. I plan to self-employed eventually but for the next six months to a year I’m just going to try and pick up as much experience as I can so I’ll be fully prepared.

- Mark Todd, Swansea

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Training Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

Government proposals for tougher sentencing on rogue traders has been welcomed by TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality mark for reputable tradesmen.

Following the Sentencing Council's consultation on fraud, bribery and money laundering, a revised framework has been put forward that will affect trades who falsify registeration marks, commit fraud and in some instances even bribe the public.

"The Sentencing Council’s new proposals will hopefully act as a deterrent to those cowboys who give tens of thousands of great law-abiding tradesmen a bad name," explains Liz Male, chair of TrustMark. "These criminals put their victims at risk and rip them off. The new guidelines are tougher on those who commit multiple offences, especially when the victims are particularly vulnerable."

In addition to this TrustMark is also pushing for even tough penalties on rouge traders fraudulently winning work involving electricity, gas and other potentially fatal substances such as asbestos.

"Tougher, simpler, sentencing guidelines will help us get the message across to rogues that their activities are unacceptable and have no place in our industry," she continues. "Ripping off the vulnerable and putting safety at risk must be deterred and we believe the Sentencing Council’s guidelines go some way to help doing that."

To coincide with this news, TrustMark has introduced a new logo download system this month in an attempt to reduce the risk of fraudulent misrepresentation. Each of its 14,500 registered firms will now be required to use their personalised logo in all of their website and marketing activing, detailing the trades that they have been inspected and licensed for by TrustMark. 

"The new TrustMark logo will provide a more transparent environment of trust for consumers as they will now be able to immediately see if a TrustMark firm has been inspected and is licensed for a particular trade. And tradesmen will be able to give themselves a competitive edge by demonstrating to customers that their work has been inspected and they offer warranties." said Liz.

This year alone TrustMark has had to take action against almost 100 firms that have been found to be misusing its logo, and regularly liaises with Trading Standards and the police when rogue traders are found. It then details each succesful legal action taken on its "Fakes and Forgeries" webpage, in an attempt to warn other homeowners about which business names to avoid.

You can keep up to date with the developments at TrustMark by visiting their official website.

Via Installer Online

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

So you've got your qualifications and are ready to start your new life as a self-employed tradesperson. Being your own boss can mean great things like having full control over what jobs you do, what hours you work and when you can take your holidays - but there are some things you'll need to put some serious consideration toward. It's time for you to consider just how much you plan to charge for your services.

Many people will work it out from a simple calculation of hourly rate multiplied by 35 hour week multiplied by 52. However how do you come up with a reasonable hourly rate in the first place? Installer Online have come up with a list of 10 things you'll need to factor in to come up with the best price tag:

  1. Invoicing: Ask any self-employed person and they'll tell you this is a far more important part of the job than you might realise. Time spent invoicing or chasing up cash is definitely something to consider.
  2. Marketing: Word of mouth is only going to get you so far, you're going to need to come up with some sort of marketing plan. How extravagant you choose to be is entirely up to you, but either way it's going to cost money.
  3. Your skillset: So you've got the qualifications, but is that it? Will these need updating every so often? You might be alright as not many qualifications need regular top ups, but be sure to research this when starting up the business.
  4. Accounting & Tax: When you become self-employed you become responsible for paying your own tax. If book-keeping isn't your strong suit, have you thought about employing an accountant? This can prove quite costly, but there are also accounting services available which are tailored specifically to the contractor, freelancer and sole trader. They have low costs and simple online interfaces to allow you to process your own accounts. Many of these are available from a low monthly fee and not only save you time and money they can also relieve you of the stress of scribbling around to do your accounts at the last minute.
  5. Holidays: The downside of having the freedom to choose your own holidays is that you're no longer paid for that time. Including bank holidays most full time employees get around 6 weeks paid leave per year. This is the equivalent to a 12% increase in your hourly or daily rate.
  6. Insurance: Every business needs insurance. Not just that, but there's many different types you may need - public liability, business car insurance, contents insurances etc. Make sure you know exactly what you need and scout around for the best prices.
  7. Your toolkit: Again, these are going to cost money and inevitably need replacing somewhere down the line.
  8. Travel: Petrol costs are another thing you're going to have to keep in mind.
  9. Quotes: You will have to pitch and quote for work in order to generate new business. These take time and often a lot of effort and often you won’t get paid a penny unless you win the business. Although you can offset the cost of providing quotes by upping your hourly rate this will be one of the biggest areas that you will find you work on with no pay whatsoever.
  10. Premises: As your business grows, you may find that working in a spare room or out of your van simply doesn't cut it. Whether its for admin or storage purposes, any excess space you need may end up incurring additional costs.

So with those things in mind, does your initial estimate seem a little low? Installer Online advise raising it by around 30%, but you also need to be aware of just how much your customers are prepared to pay. But don't get discouraged! Although it's a lot to think about its true that tradespeople earn an impressive annual wage, and 70% of the self-employed workforce now earn over the national average of £26,093!

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

Via British Builder and Developer

Remember when a van was simply a place that got you from A to B? Well, new research published by Direct Line of Business has revealed that those days may be long gone, with tradespeople using their vehicles for all sorts of different purposes.

Plumbers, electricians, gas engineers and various other forms of tradesperson are practically living out of their vans now - if not using them for sleeping then as mobile officies or even entertainment centres. Unsurprisingly nearly half (45%) are using them as a dining room to eat meals while on the job, and a lower 31% using it as a mobile office to manage their business.

One in ten (14%) are also using their vans as a place to smoke, which can cause additional dangers to their health. Smoking in an enclosed area poses additional health risks, as research from the British Lung Foundation found the levels of toxins in a vehicale can be up to 23 times higher than in a smokey bar.

Perhaps the most fun statistic of the results was that one in ten are using it as somewhere to keep themselves entertained with video games. While most of these might be doing so with their mobile phones, some (2%) are even going as far as to install consoles such as X-Boxes and Playstation 3s. As many as one in 20 (4%) have televisions in their vehicles.

Melissa Hunt, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business, said: "With tradespeople working long hours on the job, it is no wonder they often end up eating, managing paperwork and even sleeping in their vehicles. However, customising their van with the latest gadgets and installing entertainment centres may not only be a distraction and compromise their safety but it is unlikely to be covered if stolen."

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

It wouldn't be right to support Gas Safety Week without taking some time to talk about who set up the campaign - The Gas Safe Register. If you've been reading our posts you'll already know that joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of all gas engineers if they want to work on gas installations and appliances in the UK, but what else do you know about them?

The Gas Safe Register is the official gas registration body for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey and was appointed by the relevant Health and Safety Authority for each area. It replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in Great Britain and Isle of Man on the 1st April 2009 and Northern Ireland and Guernsey on the same date the following year.

The main focus of the Gas Safe Register is improving and maintaining gas safety to the highest standards, however its utmost priority is keeping you and your family safe. Their team make sure all gas engineers on the Register (totalling over 125,000) are fully qualified to work with gas. It works to protect the public from unsafe gas work through a number of different means, including;

  • A dedicated national investigations team tracking down individuals working illegally
  • Regular inspections of Gas Safe registered engineers
  • Educating consumers and raising awareness of gas safety
  • Investigating reports of unsafe gas work 

The Gas Safe Register highly advise that you always find an engineer that is part of the register. You can check this by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card, which will contain a unique license number. The front of the card will also display these important details:

  • The engineer's photo
  • The start and expiry dates
  • A security hologram
  • That engineer is from the business you employed

Meanwhile, the back of the card will also have printed on it whether that engineer is qualified to do the work you've hired him for and whether these qualifications are up to date. Should that fail, you can also check online or phone the Register on 0800 408 5500. This number is also the one to call if you suspect a fraudulent gas engineer.

How do I apply for a Gas Safe ID card?

First, you need to submit the name, address, phone number and trading title of your business to the Gas Safe Register. Then, you'll need to provide your National Insurance number and the National Insurance numbers of any engineers working for you. Once you've paid for your Gas Safe Id card, and the necessary checks have been done, it will be sent out to you.

What are the Gas Safe ID card categories?

Depending on what level of qualification you have, your Gas Safe Id card will show one of two categories, domestic or commercial work. This indicates the type of work that you're qualified to do. If you've got a gas engineer attending your property, but you're not sure if they're qualified for the domestic or commercial work at hand, you can ask to see their Gas Safe ID card to check this.

Can the gas safe register review gas work?

If you feel that gas work carried out at your home is unsafe, you can raise your concerns with the Gas Safe Register directly. They will record the problem and can even arrange an investigation of the problem. Once the investigation has been done, a report can be sent to you and your gas engineer so that any problems can be dealt with appropriately.

If you're unsure how to find a Gas Safe Registered engineer in your area, you can also contact the Gas Safe Register for their recommendations. They can highlight gas engineers and professionals in your local area that may be able to carry out a service for you.

So there you have it, a little bit more about the Gas Safe Register and what it does. If you need gas work done always be sure to check your engineer is registered, and if you're a register remember that being part of it is a legal requirement!

To mark Gas Safety Week, Access Training are offering 20% off our professional gas course from now until the end of September. To take advantage of this offer all you need to do is quote "GASWEEK" when speaking to one of our course advisors. You can contact them on 0800 345 7492.

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