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.

NICEIC and ELECSA have expressed their concern towards parliamentary recommendations to alter the current-standing electricians' Compentent Persons Scheme system, which if granted would require all domestic electricians to have a qualifications equivalent to an NVQ level 3 within the next five years.

The current system requires simply one person at a firm to be at a Qualified Supervisor level (equivalent to that of an NVQ 3), who is responsible for the final checking of work and signing off that it has been completed in accordance with standards and regulations. However what is now being proposed is that all electricians, from firm employees to self-employed ones, should have this level of qualification. 

This, among other suggestions, have come following a report from the Communities and Local Government Committee stemming from a number of health and safety incidents from the last few years. Among these was the Emma Shaw incident from 2007, where the 22-year-old mother was electrocuted whilst mopping up water from a faulty boiler.

CEO of Certsure (operator of both NICEIC and ELECSA) Emma Shaw spoke out, saying that these measures would place "a huge onus on firms" regardless of size. It is feared costs will be pushed up as apprentices are slowly phased out, causing the electrical industry to suffer in the long term. Clancy also stated;

"The QS system, which Part P is based on, is proven to work and as the committee states in its report has actually pushed domestic electrical installation standards up in recent years."

Certsure stresses that the view that firms are sending out unqualified electricians is unfounded, with electrician firms fully aware of their responsibility and 80% of domestic work carried out by Part P qualified electricians. The question is though - is 80% enough?

However the two groups have welcomed other recommendations made by the report, which include:

  • Calls for an annual limit on the number of jobs that a single QS can review
  • Action from the government to raise public awareness of Part P – similar to that of Gas Safe
  • Proactive enforcement against those who breach Part P and those who work outside of competent person schemes
  • A single register for all Part P electricians covering all schemes

Meanwhile the Committee themselves are fully backing their proposals, with Clive Betts MP arguing that the current system "can brand the incompetent as competent" as homeowners have no guarantee that the electricians turning up at their doors are fully qualified. The commitee also calls into question whether a limited amount of supervisors are "adequately able to check work with such large caseloads".

He concludes; "Under the changes we propose people would know that the electrician working in their home is qualified. If, as scheme operators told us, standards of electricians are already high, then the added criteria will not be too onerous.  

"During the five year transition there should be an annual limit — agreed by the industry — on the maximum number of transactions that a single qualified supervisor can review. This will increase the chance that in the interim unqualified electricians will at least be having their work properly checked by a qualified supervisor."

Read more:

Installer Online

Electrical Contracting News

The apparent skills shortage and lack of young people joining the construction sector continues to be a burning issue for the industry, training centres, colleges and awarding bodies alike. Construction productivity has been steadily growing over the past few months and is expected to continue in the next few years, however a significant portion of the existing workforce is set to retire and meanwhile schools seem to be actively discouraging leaving students to take up vocational careers in the industry. These things mixed together sound like a recipe for disaster, so it's no wonder that the CITB have referred to the incoming scenario as a "ticking time bomb". Something needs to be done, and the first port of call is better promotion of apprenticeships and an eventual career in the construction industry to young adults - namely 16-25 year olds. And the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Construction Training Industry Board (CITB) and City & Guilds have all been doing research into how this can be achieved.

To begin, the CIOB and CITB joined forces last month to help produce a cross-party parliamentary enquiry entitled "No more lost generations: Creating construction jobs for young people". The cover of the 23-page report sums up the problem succinctly - Britain has one million NEETs (Not in education, employment or training) aged 16-24, and there are at least 182,000 construction jobs to be filled by 2018. However only 7,280 completed a construction apprenticeship last year - prompting the bodies' to firmly say "We have to do better."

Amongst the full report, which highlights the difficult economic recession the construction industry went through and how its recovery is progressing, a number of different strategies are suggested to solve this very real problem. These include:

  • Improving understanding in schools of the wide variety of careers the construction industry offers. This includes traditional crafts, management and even computer-based modelling.
  • Making it easier for young people to find an appropriate entry route into the industry - whether it be through apprenticeships or qualifications.
  • Ensuring training programmes are better linked to the nature of jobs likely to be available
  • Using the levers available through public-sector procurement and the planning system to require realistic and effective training and employment commitments from employers.
  • Securing greater commitment and buy-in from industry leaders.

The report also put forward a selection of proposed actions to help bring about these improvements, including a training summit between the CITB and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with backing from the Construction Leadership Council. Additional measures suggested included a revitalised apprenticeship strategy, local authorities to leverage planning obligations, more leadership from social landlords and public bodies and finally a step change in the careers advice young people receive.

Meanwhile City & Guilds own research, titled "Building Futures on Shifting Foundations", looked at what skills, education and training was currently required by the construction industry. It took a sample of 344 respondents - made up of 168 senior managers from construction businesses and 176 education providers who deliver qualifications needed to break into the industry. The research was done in relation to Construction 2025, a joint strategy between the Government and Industry that sets out how Britain could be at the forefront of global construction in the future. 

The survey identified that employers do indeed recognise a skills gap when it comes to driving the construction industry forward, with the main skills they felt lacking being:

  • Trade skills - 42% recognising a gap
  • Maths and English - 39% recognising a gap
  • Problem solving - 35% recognising a gap
  • Technical skills - 31% recognising  a gap

Most importantly though the survey revealed although apprenticeships may be the key to fixing the industry's problems, employers aren't utilising this vital role. The survey found:

  • 42% of businesses said that they currently employ no apprentices
  • 40% said apprentices made up less than 1% of their workforce
  • Just over half (56%) said they don't plan to take on any apprentices in the next year
Problems cited by these employers included "funding issues" and "uncertainty around my firm's workload", however a significant proportion (70%) recognised the financial support they could receive by taking on an apprentice. They also questioned respondents on the Richard Review - an independent report issued to review the current apprenticeship system and identify how it can changed to meet the needs of the future economy. While half (49%) admitted that they had not heard of the report before, upon learning more about it 56% agreed it is important for the future of the construction industry. 

For more in-depth detail, read the full reports here:

CIOB/CITB: No More Lost Generations: Creating construction jobs for
young people (PDF)

City & Guilds: Building Futures on Shifting Foundations (PDF)

 

The outlook is currently very bright for the construction industry, however in order for things to work out successfully the path it must take is clear. Official bodies of all different origin agree that young people taking up a career in construction in the key to plugging this skills shortage and ensuring that the construction "boom" really is a boom. Careers in bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, tiling and painting/decorating are not the stereotypical jobs many media outlets portray them to be. As well as the crucial element of skill and technique required by them, these active careers are varied and exciting - with workers citing them as among the happiest of careers as well as enjoying an impressive salary. If academic education doesn't appeal to you or you want to enter a line of work where this is actually a place for you, then a construction career may be just what you're looking for and Access Training is right here to help. We offer intensive training courses in all construction trades, making us one of the most varied training centres in the UK. At our state-of-the-art training centre just on the outskirts of Cardiff city centre you'll be able to learn the vital skills from experienced professionals, earning the necessary qualifications in a fraction of the time you would with a college course - without skimping on any of the quality!

To find out more about what we can offer you here at Access to kickstart your new career in the fastest and most effective way possible, give our advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

After a pretty abysmal first year, it's no surprise that the Green Deal - the UK Government's flagship energy saving programme -is going to be going through some much needed changes. After all, you know its bad when even Energy Secretary Ed Davey - one of the men behind the scheme, calls it "clunky", "complex" and "disappointing".

Speaking at the Ecobuild convention that's taken place in London's Excel centre over the last few days, Mr Davey launched a consultation on the changes that will be made to Green Deal sister scheme ECO (Energy Companies Obligation), while at the same time reaffirming that the DECC were about to make some vital changes to the overall programme.

He said that the Government had been looking to "streamline" the Green Deal from very early on, and that the fact changes need to be made after only one year shouldn't be that surprising given "the scale of the ambition". He also added that further incentives for people to sign up would be unveiled in the coming weeks.

The latest figures from January did report that the scheme was beginning to make a comeback, with 1,277 plans in place by the end of the month - 746 of which were completed. However Mr Davey stressed that selling finance plans was not the main aim of the scheme:

"The fact that most people currently having a Green Deal assessment are not then going on to choose Green Deal finance plans shouldn’t actually worry us.

"How people pay for energy efficiency improvements is not after all the main issue. The aim of the Green Deal isn’t to sell credit plans, but to make our homes warmer, cheaper and greener."

It's great to see that the DECC are pushing these Green Deal changes, but is there really that much new info since the last time Ed Davey announced what they would be doing. Hopefully this will be a move that brings the Green Deal into the spotlight, rather than empty promises made during a sudden rise that may not amount to anything. Only time will tell...

Via Building.co.uk

Construction activity may be on the rise, but sadly it seems the industry isn't completely free of problems just yet as the HSE alarmingly cut back on the amount of safety visits they make to sites. 

Wales in particular has been hit hard as HSE inspectors cut back visits by 35% - incidentally the same proportion by which its budget has been cut. The information was gained by BBC Radio Wales who submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the HSE. Their inquiry revealed that the number of proactive (i.e. unannounced) inspections dropped from 818 in the 2011-12 period to 529 in 2012-13. The number of prosecutions dropped from three to zero in the same timeframe.

A drop in prosecutions might sound like a good thing and could naturally go hand in hand with less inspections, but alarmingly this has all happened at the same time as a safety blitz in September 2013. During this time, the HSE found that one in three Welsh sites breached safety regulations.

Obviously the news has been of much concern to construction trade unions, with Ucatt regional secretary Nick Blundell warning that the cuts were 'truly alarming'. He added: "Inspections save lives. This fall in inspections is putting construction workers in danger."

He also remarked that with construction finally on the recovery following the long recession, a fall in inspections is naturally going to mean less sites visited. This will be putting new entrants at risk, who are more vulnerable and therefore more at risk of suffering an accident.

This is why it isn't important to know all about health & safety measures on construction sites before starting your new career in the trade. Even the most experienced worker could be at risk, but those fresh out of a construction training course should be wary of what's around them. If you think that your work area is unsafe - don't be afraid to report it.

Via The Construction Index

The good news for the construction industry just doesn't seem to be stopping, as even more increase in activity has been noted by various reports. If you're about to complete a construction training course and are wondering where your entry into professional work may be, this news in particular may be of interest to you.

The latest from construction data experts Barbour ABI has revealed that house building is proving to be a huge factor in the industry's growth, altogether accounting for over a third of UK construction projects. Another piece of great news that came from it are that construction activity as a whole rose by 59.3% in January in comparison to December 2013. With residential projects accounting for 36% of that total growth, it not only goes to show the great state the industry is in right now but also how Government initiatives such as Help to Buy are providing an additional boost.

For students finishing up their qualifications and about to get into the construction industry, housing provides a wealth of opportunity to all trades. Think about it - bricklayers, carpenters, tilers, plasterers, painter/decorators...they're all needed in order to complete a house. You can even extent it out to the other trades. After all, who's going to fix the electrics, plumbing and gas in that house?

It's easy to just write that something is booming and therefore there's plenty of job prospects, but the evidence keeps on coming in that this is really the case when it comes to construction. Starting a career in the industry now is proving to be a very clever step indeed and here at Access Training Academy we can help you earn the qualifications to make it happen. We take pride in specialising in all of the main construction trades - something not many other centres can offer. Just take a look around our website and you'll see what we have on offer at our state-of-the-art Cardiff training centre,

To find out more about our range of courses, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492.

It isn't the most ideal circumstances for tradespeople to have benefitted from, but with UK still being battered by wind, rain and flooding an increasing amount of homeowners are turning to tradespeople to help repair and/or waterproof their homes. And Government-endorsed standards group Trustmark report they've seen a 300% increase in flood protection services in comparison to this time last year).

Their records showed that the number of searches for flood recovery specialists represented more than 3% of all searches in January and, in total made up 11% of all searches for TrustMark tradesmen in the same month. Damp proofing and timber treatment specialists were the fifth most sought after master trade (out of 21) on the site, with figures also doubling since December (tripling since July!) for homeowners searching roof repairs to fix broken tiles and leaking roofs. Other highly sought-after tradespeople included tree surgeons (150% rise in the last month), fence installers (120%) and handymen (140%).

TrustMark's PR head Stuart Carter commented that it was 'clear that homeowners are really seeing the importance of preparing for the worst as seasonal extreme weather becomes the norm in the UK'. A sad truth really, which is why tradespeople should gear themselves up to be able to help homeowners in these months where they may need them the most. Access Training Academies offer intensive carpentry courses which will undoubtedly come in handy when dealing with any wood repair work a tradesperson may come across during flood season. The same goes for bricklaying courses, which we also provide from our training centre just outside Cardiff city centre.

For more information give our course advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Via HVP Mag

Back in January official Government figures showed that the Green Deal wasn't doing too well - in fact in its first year it had barely managed to achieve a fraction of its expected targets. And although the Government admitted things weren't working out quite the way they had anticipated, Climate Change minister Greg Barker still considered it an encouraging start and was confident things were going to pick up in 2014. Could he have been right?

Electrical body NICEIC are reporting that now more than 1000 companies have signed up for Green Deal installer status with them, alongside further news that consumer interest has picked up in recent months. Since the end of December, an impressive 129,842 Green Deal assessments are said to have been lodged. With only 1,612 houses recorded to have made plans overall (with a further 626 houses having plans in place), this figure alone has the potential to upset last years numbers.

NICEIC head of operations Paul Collins said, "The government is committed to ensuring that all work undertaken via Green Deal is carried out by registered firms and with interest in the initiative now ramping up we are seeing more and more firms look to get involved. We have witnessed a large number of skilled professionals such as electricians, plumbers, heating and gas engineers come to NICEIC for certification as it is a name associated with quality and assurance."

So maybe the Government's confidence in the Green Deal wasn't unfounded? That being said it still has a long way to go yet - after all if none of these put plans in place then the Green Deal is back at square one. For those still not in the know about this Government programme, the Green Deal aims to fund energy-saving upgrades to homes without any upfront costs for installation. Instead, the costs are added to your energy bills and staggered over time.

This may sound offputting, but the rule of the Green Deal is that the repayments MUST be less than the money you're saving on your energy bills - so you'll be paying less regardless of the installments. Interested customers must first have a propety assesment performed by a special Green Deal advisor, who will look at your home's current energy performance and suggest what measures are suitable for you. From there you can begin searching for quotes from Green Deal providers who will be able to tell you the overall cost of the work.

More information on the Green Deal can be found on the DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change)'s website, but expect more news in the future as it seems there's life in the programme yet!

When it comes to gas fitting, there is nothing more important than safety. Not taking the right precautions can cost people their lives, and installers found guilty of negligence could face manslaughter charges and prison sentences. For an example of just how dangerous gas can be when not properly handled, cast your eyes on the story below.

Two houses were completely destroyed with others damaged yesterday when a gas explosion of currently unknown origin occurred in Clacton, Essex. Thankfully no one was killed in the blast but 10 were injured, with two - a man in his 70s and a woman in her 50s, badly burnt but now in "stable" condition.

Taking place around 8:30am yesterday morning, a total of 10 properties in the street (Cloes Lane) needed to be evacuated along with a further nine in the road behind. Victims were needed to be pulled from the rubble as houses were flattened, with debris blowing across to hit those nearby.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), National Grid and Essex Police/Fire Services will now carry out a full investigation into what caused such a destructive blast. A spokesperson for the National Grid has already said that it did not appear as though there were any faults in the pipes leading up to the three badly damaged houses, however more thorough tests would be carried out once demolition work has been completed. There had also been no mains replacement work done in that area recently, further adding to the mystery of what could have caused it.

Houses were cornered off as a reception centre was set up for those evacuated from their homes. A Facebook group has also been set up to offer support and donations to those who have lost their homes. Access Training wish everyone involved in the disaster a swift recovery and hope that they will be able to return to normality soon.

This is the kind of damage gas negligence can cause. ANYONE dealing with gas pipes at any level should be fully qualified, having undergone the correct gas training course, complete their ACS assessment and joined the Gas Safety register. This is a legal requirement of ALL gas installers and non-compliance is not tolerated. The life of a gas installer can be a challenging, exciting and prosperous one, also one that requires focus, dedication and conscienciousness. Would you want to be the cause of something like this?

Story via BBC News

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