Monthly Archives: January 2011

Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Amanda talks Twitter, practice boards and why all T4TS students need to embrace social media

Amanda Shaw is training to be an electrician with Train4TradeSkills and is one of our Bright Sparks bloggers. Here’s her latest blog:

A quick update to how I’m getting on. I recently completed the study for module 06 and the assignment. I have also completed the second scenario on the virtual reality software and have again been reading back over previous modules to try and keep things fresh in my mind.

As yet, I am no further along with the practice boards, but hoping to soon move forward on this. I am eager to get some practice in wiring Ring and Radial circuits and especially looking forward to get the practice wiring intermediate switches, and a Consumer unit. All of course on the boards!

I recently managed to diagnose 2 washing machine faults, though the opportunity to fix them eluded me as both machines were old and the cost of parts would not have been worth paying out. It’s a shame really, as I would have liked to have had the chance to fix them. Not that fixing white goods is something I’d really think of going into, but just something to build up my confidence and practical skills on.

I have decided to prepare a CV and someone has kindly offered to help me with this, and soon hope to send a copy to a few people in the industry, with a view to them giving me a critique on it. A few people have said they will be happy to do this. Just to give me an idea of areas that may need improving. The feedback will be useful for when the time comes to start applying to prospective employers. My basic aim is to see if they would be willing to invite the subject to an interview, based on what is in front of them in the CV.

I am now studying module 07, and hope to dedicate a little more time to finding my way around the BS7671:2008 also. As daunting as the book is I think it’s important to really start getting a good grounding in navigating through it. Especially since I recently read that in exam conditions bookmarking it isn’t an option, so time spent fumbling through it trying to find relevant areas could well hinder the time spent reading and answering questions! I therefore plan to turn the scary looking BRB into my best friend as soon as possible. Then no doubt the shiny new green edition will be out in the near future and it will be hopefully a little easier to tame.

Since starting my study towards becoming an electrician, I have had the fortune to meet a lot of people in the industry who are more than willing to offer help and support, through mediums such as the Electricians forums and Twitter. Both of which have also provided the chance to meet other people studying with Train4TradeSkills.

It’s also great to see more and more students are blogging their experiences, thus making it possible for people thinking about taking up a course to get some feedback, as well as us being able to help each other along with a good bit of moral support. The help of people through these mediums is of such great value and I hope in some part to contribute to that where I can. It’s really a good point of the social networking sites.

A lot of these people giving their help are out there working all day on-site, coming home to a mountain of paperwork, and still doing all they can to contribute to those of us coming up into the industry. So to you guys, who are literally too many to mention! A GREAT BIG THANK YOU!!!! Your help is invaluable and deserving of much more acknowledgement than I can give it in my blog.

Wherever anything is confusing, there is no end of people out there happy to shine a light, and help in what way they can. Their time is given freely, and they wish nothing in return only to see the industry grow and improve. Something I hope we can all be a part of and contribute towards.

Train4TradeSkills recently spoke to Amanda to find out what she thinks about the new NICEIC “Jobs for the Girls” campaign. Read it here.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter and read her blog at


Stephen talks T4TS, new laptops and work experience in latest blog

In his last blog about his Train4TradeSkills course, Stephen Marlor was talking his upcoming TMA, business plans and how his tutors at T4TS are helping him. Here’s Stephen’s next blog:

Hi everyone, just to let you know that I’m doing fine this week and I even bought myself a new Acer laptop this to help with my studies. I got a good deal as it went down in the sales. I’ve been doing some coursework and had some help from my Tutors and I’m well on my way to submitting my TMA which will hopefully be at the weekend.

The course is great at the moment, even though it is getting a bit hard with the financial details. I feel as though I am doing really well and I had some great help from my Tutor Corrina when I phoned her. She advised me to take it slowly to help me digest it better.

I went to Careers Wales yesterday and they are looking at finding me some work experience as a plumber, so I’m just waiting to hear from them. They’re even going to try and get me some help with my dyslexia. My business plan is going really well and they gave me some help with the figures. I’ve updated it and it looks a lot better.

Until next week…

You can read other entries from Stephen’s Blog here and you can also follow Stephen on Twitter.

Construction companies join forces to tackle low-carbon debate

Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, says the government will meet its zero-carbon targets

When the coalition government came to power last year they promised a greener future and to cut carbon emissions significantly in the next few years. They promised that all new homes would be zero-carbon by 2016 and Grant Shapps, the Housing minister, reaffirmed last month the government’s desire that all non-domestic properties will be zero-carbon by 2019.

Now Construction Enquirer reports that all sides of the construction industry have agreed to join forces and help the government achieve their targets of a low-carbon future. Numerous key contractors, professionals, specialists and unions from the construction industry signed a deal at the Strategic Forum for Construction to back the government and their Low Carbon report on new construction projects, which is expected this year.

As part of the agreement, they filed a report to the government containing 65 recommendations on housing, major projects and non-domestic buildings, to help the government reduce carbon emissions and fulfil its promise of becoming the “greenest government ever.”

The chairman of the Strategic Forum, Peter Wooliscroft says they are ideally placed to lead the charge for a low carbon future, saying in a statement:

“The work of the forum has always been important however as the body that embraces all parts of the sector we are ideally positioned to take a significant role in helping government turn the report into action”

This is good news for the government and the construction industry, as previously the low-carbon campaign wasn’t looking promising to say the least. Hopefully this deal between the government and the construction industry and hope to revitalise the plans to make all new homes in the UK energy efficient and zero-carbon.

What do you think of the government’s plans for zero-carbon new homes?

T4TS Radio: the best bits so far

T4TS Radio has had a week off, and will be back next week for more interviews with Train4TradeSkills students about how they are finding their course. Here are the best bits from the four interviews from the last two weeks (we’ve had plumbing students Andy and Lisa, to go with trainee electrician’s Chris and John).

Here are the best bits from when we spoke to each of them about their course.

Why did you choose to study with Train4TradeSkills?

Lisa: Well I wanted to learn a trade and my family has got every other trade apart from plumbing. So I looked it up on the Internet and found Train4TradeSkills.

Chris: I was actually working as a chef and it wasn’t really where I wanted to go, so I saw the adverts on the TV, I picked up the phone and since I got all my books through it’s been going pretty well. I’m really enjoying it and learning all the new aspects of the course.

How are you finding the studying at home part of the course?

John: For myself it’s not too much of a problem. I can fit it around my schedule. I can find I can do as much or as little when I want, and that’s very useful to me.

Andy: Being an older person, the computer bit is a bit more nerve wracking as I was not brought up with computers. I’ve probably struggled a bit more with that, because I was never ever brought up with computers. I tend not to work with computers much, but the other people, the younger generation would have no problem with the computer side.

Tell us about your practical training – how is that going?

John: Absolutely wonderful. I’m in my second week now. The first week was brilliant. The tutors put it into practical terms and say this is how you do it and why and this is the end result

Andy: In Southampton they are actually brilliant. You work at your speed but you’re keeping up with everyone else and if you’re going wrong a little bit they show you again how to do it properly.

Chris: The tutors here are absolutely fabulous, if there’s anything you don’t know, or your stuck on, or you want to get that completely clear in your head before you move on, then they are happy to help you and give assistance.

Lisa: It’s brilliant, I love it. The day goes so quick. I’m more of a visual learner actually, rather than writing and stuff like that, so anything I see I can basically copy it if I’ve seen it once.

If you had to sum up your whole experience with Train4TradeSkills so far, what would you say?

Chris: I’m extremely happy with it. The practical centres are absolutely fabulous, everyone knows exactly what they are talking about, the help and the assistant from the tutors is brilliant.

John: Overall it’s been brilliant.


To listen to T4TS Radio and John, Chris, Lisa and Andy’s stories via AudioBoo at or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook page.

Check out our brand new T4TS Radio blog as well at

CSkills campaign to get more teens to “Experience Construction”

A new campaign to get teenagers interested in the construction industry is being piloted.

The initiative, which is being run by CITB-Construction Skills, is called “Experience Construction” and will give 16-18 year olds the opportunity to enrol on a two to four week work experience placement, to see if the construction industry is for them.

Experience Construction will give young people a taster of what the construction industry is about, in the hope that they will then consider a career in the construction or built environment sector.

Construction Skills, who are the Industry training board for the construction industry, are hoping to encourage construction companies to sign up to the scheme and support 1,000 work placements across the UK.

The scheme will give employees the chance to assess potential trainees and apprentices in a live working environment, and to encourage talented youngsters to take up a career in construction.

It’s all about getting more young people to enter the industry, says Construction Skills’ CEO Mark Farrar, who said in a statement:

“I now urge construction companies to come forward and offer young people in their area this vital chance to experience just what our industry has to offer.”

This is a great campaign to get more teenagers involved in construction and help an industry which is struggling at the moment due to the recession. More talented youngsters in construction would boost the skills shortage that we have at the moment, and set the industry up for the future.

What do you think about the “Experience Construction” campaign?

Kier swoop for £45m deal to build new green offices in London Victoria

The Kier Group have won a £45 million contract to build new eco-friendly offices in London Victoria, which is the latest in a series of new contracts acquired by the construction firm.

Construction Enquirer reports that Kier, alongside developers Terrace Hill Group and Doughty Hanson, are set to build new offices and flats in London Victoria. The work will begin next month and is due to be completed in Autumn 2012.

The plans comprise of building high-quality offices, 33 new apartments and retail space at the 280,000sq ft site at One Howick Place in London.

At a time when construction jobs are being cut due to the poor state of the economy, this is a bonus for the industry, as the project will create new construction jobs in the capital.

The unique part of this project is that the offices will use “green” energy and help contribute to the government’s zero-carbon targets. The project will feature several energy saving features such as solar panels on the roof and a combined cooling and heating plant, so the building creates its own renewable energy. This means the building will be awarded an “Excellent” BREEAM rating when completed (which is the highest measurement for green buildings in the UK).

As well as the new green offices in London Victoria, Kier have been awarded a £16 million contract to deliver the first phase of a major housing development in Gloucestershire. The work, which will see 600 new homes built in the town of Lydney, most of which will be affordable homes. The project is expected to create around 150 new construction jobs.

What do you think of Kier’s new acquisitions? Let us know in the comments section below or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Daniel’s first ever blog

We’ve got Amanda, Nick and Stephen, and now Train4TradeSkills would like to introduce Daniel Miller, the latest in our line of student bloggers. Daniel began his studies with Train4TradeSkills in September 2010 and is training to become an electrician.

In his first blog, Daniel tells us what he thinks about his course and how he is finding it:

Hi my name is Daniel Miller and this is my first ever blog about training with T4TS to become a domestic electrical installer.

I’m 43 years old and at the moment am working as an assistant manager at a newsagent. You may ask why am I doing this now at this time in my life? I believe you are never too old to learn. I had one of those moments where you think about your past, your future, and where am I going to be in five years time ? I wasn’t too happy where I was, so I decided to take action.

Why a domestic electrical installer? My granddad was an electrician and I have always been intrigued by the electrical industry and how it all comes together.

The studying has been going very well. I do enjoy it but at times it can be very intense. I sometimes think to myself can I really do this, but thanks to Train4TradeSkills, you learn in steps , which makes it easier and there is always a tutor on hand via the phone or email

My tutor Barry is particularly helpful and when I email him I always get a prompt reply. I find what works for me is short and regular study periods and then re-read chapters of the module, which helps as well .

There is so much to take in with the course. It was a bit daunting at first, but is becoming more easier as i learn more. I have acquired a set of electrical books all supplied by T4ts and my best friend is the BS7671, which are the requirements for electrical installations.

I would love to get some hands on experience, but that comes later after I have completed Module 11 and undertaken the practical training at one of the centres, which I am nervous and at the same time excited about. There is also online learning to complete on their web site, which is all necessary to your learning and understanding.

I don’t have a set time table of studying with me working at a newsagents, it is a bit awkward as my hours of work can fluctuate, but I tend to manage it so that i study 4 to 5 times a week. That way I retain the information I have learnt and become more confident. I’m nearly at the end of my first training book which covers modules 1-8, which I will go over what I have learnt and revise. Can’t wait for the next book!

You can follow Daniel on Twitter here.

You can also follow Train4TradeSkills on Facebook and Twitter.

The economy isn’t all doom and gloom; 200,000 construction jobs set to be created by 2015

The entire economy and the construction industry may currently be a mess, but a new report that 200,000 new construction jobs will be created by 2015.

2011 is not expected to be the best year for your bank balance. VAT rises, petrol hikes, higher cost of living are some of things we are currently experience and Mervyn King, the Chairman of the Bank of England, confirmed yesterday that pay rises are not on the horizon and will in fact be frozen for 2011, despite the increased costs of living.

Combine this with the reports that 76,000 construction jobs will be lost this year, according to industry experts, and the smaller construction companies having to cease trading, means that the UK is back in a recession that many thought was behind us.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. The construction industry is expecting a bad year in 2011, but is predicted to stablise in 2012 and grow considerably between 2013 and 2015.

A new report by the Construction Skills Network has revealed that the construction industry will grow by 6.2% after 2011, which means that 200,000 new electricians, plumbers, gas engineers and builders will be needed to complete planned project over the next few years.

Judy Lowe, the Deputy Chairman of CITB-Construction Skills, said in a statement:

“The next couple of years will be really tough for the industry. But as the forecasts show, there are signs of longer-term confidence returning to the market.

“Major infrastructure investment has been announced, particularly in rail and water, and work is starting on the Cheese Grater, the Walkie-Talkie and Darth Vader’s Helmet – exotic names, but proof investment is being made.”

This is good news for the industry, considering how bad a state the economy is in now. The report states that areas in the South will benefit the most, with London, the East and South East of England experiencing the most growth over the next four years.

What do you think about the current situation of the UK economy and the state of the construction industry?

Sparky to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money for charity

An electrician from Old Radnor in Wales is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in a bid to raise money for the charity that saved his father.

The Hereford Times reports that Terry Griffiths, 36, is climbing the 5,900-metre Tanzanian mountain with 13 other people to raise money for Midlands Air Ambulance and Wales Air Ambulance.

Terry previously raised £5000 in 2009 for the same charities while trekking through the Andes and to Everest base camp. He chose the charities in question after his father had a heart attack and was airlifted to hospital in seven minutes by air ambulance, saving his life in the process.

This is a great cause and a good thing that Terry is doing to raise money for such a worthwhile cause. Terry’s trek up Kilimanjaro will come a few months after Travis Perkins manager Andrew Craig managed to raise over £15,000 for breast cancer charity in 2010, which you can read about here.

What do you think about this news? Have you ever done something similar to raise money for charity?

Are “prefab” homes the ticket to solve the housing crisis?

The housing market is in crisis, with the government simply being unable to afford to build enough new homes to satisfy demand. A new report may have found a way to solve that crisis.

According to The Telegraph, a new report by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), titled the Future of UK Housebuilding, “pre-fabs” are the way forward, as they are cheap to produce and use recycled materials.

Prefabs, or “modular” homes as they are now known, are cheap houses that can be built off-site and then dropped into place. Boasting state-of-the-art design, they start at just £20,000 and would also contribute to the government’s zero-carbon targets, as they have impressive “green” credentials.

The problem with pre-fabs is that they became known for their shoddy design and poor construction, after thousands of them were built to solve the housing crisis after World War II.

These homes would solve the current housing crisis, as 800,000 too few homes are being built each year to meet the need for affordable housing.

Loughborough University’s Dr Chris Goodier, who is the man behind the research, says:

“More innovative, modern off-site and modular designs are not only extremely cost effective, but can be constructed with ease in a very short period of time.

While there is no quick fix to the problem, it is important that the government and industry consider more innovative solutions to development.

Without them, problems such as overcrowding, undersupply and unaffordable housing seem set to continue.”

These new homes will certainly be cheap if they go ahead, but whether they will be permanent is another matter. I could see them being a temporary solution to help get the country out of the financial crisis, until the economy is fine and all the new homes can be built.

What do you think about bringing prefabs back? Do you think it is a good idea?