Monthly Archives: April 2011

David Cameron wants to transform fortunes of ailing construction industry

After the disastrous results for the construction industry for the first few months of 2011, David Cameron has launched a campaign to “get Britain building again”.

The Prime Minister was responding to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, which found that construction output dropped by 4.7% in the first quarter of this year, which dragged down the growth of the UK economy, which grew slightly by 0.5%.

In the House of Commons, Mr Cameron said the figures were “disappointing” and that there is a need to “get Britain building again.”

Vince Cable echoed the thoughts of the Prime Minister, with the Business Secretary telling BBC’s Newsnight that the government were “aware of the construction industry’s difficulties”, and “sustainable growth in the wider economy would bring construction with it.”

We mentioned on Train4TradeSkills News that the ONS statistics for construction in 2011 had been criticised heavily by construction experts. After Construction Products Association CEO Michael Ankers spoke out about the stats, the same company’s economics director said the data may be six weeks out of date and included some of the December data (where the freezing weather hampered the construction industry) in their readings.

Construction Products Association economics director Dr Noble Francis has consistently highlighted the discrepancy between construction invoices and output, with monthly estimations of the latter proving difficult.

He said the data may be up to six weeks out of date and mean some of the snow-hit December data may be seeping into the first quarter’s readings.

What do you think the government and the Prime Minister need to do to improve the fortunes of the construction industry? Comment on here and let us know on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Learn DIY as celeb builder Craig Phillips launches new TV show

Celebrity builder and ex-Big Brother winner Craig Phillips is fronting a new DIY show, where clueless DIY’ers compete to see who can improve their DIY skills.

Craig, 39, is hosting If It’s Broke Fix It, a 10-part series on the Home channel, which will see two teams of novice DIY’ers compete to see who can complete the jobs they have avoided for years in just 48 hours.

Craig will teach the two teams basic DIY skills at his workshop in Shropshire and they will then go off and complete a series of DIY tasks.

Craig is most famous for winning the first series of Big Brother, has spent over a decade working in TV as a DIY expert on programs like Housecall and 60 Minute Makeover. Craig told the Liverpool Echo:

“The show is unique because there’s a competitive element to it too. I judge who’s done the best job so it’s like a game show. The winner gets a golden hammer and £500 of DIY vouchers.”

What do you think of Craig Phillips’ new show – have you seen it? Let us know and comment below or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

GDP figures slam construction industry, but is it really that bad?

It seems as if it’s one step forward, two steps back for the construction industry as recent statistics show that its performance in 2011 is not as strong as first thought.

New GDP figures released by the Office of National Statistics(ONS) indicate that despite the UK economy growing by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2011, construction endured a terrible time, falling by 4.7% in the first few months of the year.

This news will come as a blow for the construction industry, as the situation has seemingly got worse for the industry after the awful winter it endured, with the freezing weather hampering the performance of the industry.

Do these figures tell the real story?

Numerous construction experts have cast doubt over the ONS’ figures. Construction Products Association’s Chief Executive Michael Ankers said:

“The scale of this fall in the official figures is extremely surprising and is not consistent with information from construction industry surveys or the experience of the companies and sectors that the association represents.”

“The indications are that the construction industry performed better in the first three months than the ONS figures suggest.”

I am surprised by the ONS’ report, as other studies analysing the performance of the construction industry found that the industry grew considerably in the first few months in 2011.

The Markit / CIPS UK Construction PMI Index has reported that the construction industry has grown over the first three months of 2011 after a poor end to last year. The report found that the figures were 53.7, 56.5 and 56.4 in January, February and March respectively (anything over 50 constitutes a growth), and the 56.5 rating for February was the highest in 8 months for the industry.

So is the industry really in such a bad state or is it on the up? Yes, the construction industry is expected to endure a tough time in 2011 and won’t start to really pick up and recover from the recession until 2013 and 2014, but there are still big projects being commissioned all over the UK and jobs available.

What do you think – do you believe the ONS’ figures or are they exaggerating the situation a bit? Let us know what you think and comment on here or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

Construction gets Royal Wedding fever

Britain has whipped itself into a Royal Wedding frenzy over the last few months and the hype and excitement is only going to increase as we near the big day when Prince William marries Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

Construction workers in London are said to be joining in the fun of the Royal Wedding and working along the wedding procession route – they just have to change first.

It was reported last month by Building that builders may be forced to wear ties and commemorative hard hats to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

The Queen is reportedly (according to an “unnamed” palace insider) keen to make builders scrub up and change their appearance so cement-splattered hi-vis jackets don’t spoil photos of the wedding route.

Construction workers on the day will be handed hard hats featuring pictures of William and Kate and a Union flag, and there will be a range of special hammers emblazoned with Kate Middleton’s new royal seal.

This news follows the reports that some construction companies are refusing to let employees have the day off on Friday, which is a bank holiday.

If you work in construction, what are your opinions on the Wills & Kate hard hats? Let us know on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

T4TS Radio: We speak to Andre about his plumbing training

Andre Bell is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. After swapping college for studying with T4TS, the Reading-based trainee spoke to T4TS Radio about how his course is going.

You can listen to Andre’s interview at www.train4tradeskills-radio.co.uk or via AudioBoo at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills

Here is the interview, which you can read and download via our Scribd page:

Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Daniel tells us how his electrical course is going

Daniel Miller is training to become an electrician with Train4TradeSkills and is one of our Bright Sparks bloggers.

In his last blog post, Daniel was talking about balancing his T4TS course with his job at a newsagents and how his training was going. Here’s Daniel’s latest blog:

I’ve finally finished Module 9, I did get stuck a bit with some of it, but after a lot of reading and talking to my tutor Barry on the T4ts hotline, I understand it a lot more.

I also managed to speak to Tony Cable from the Sparks website, who was most helpful. He mentioned a website called the Learning Lounge for electricians, which he said was worth a visit, and has offered me a free trial, so i will be checking that out as well.

So it’s back to the books for me, and going over previous modules and the activities I will be expected to do. I also paid a visit to the T4TS radio station to listen to some of the students and found out how they were getting on. All of them agreed the practical was the best part, so I’m looking forward to that when my time arrives.

Chernobyl: 25 years on

26 April 1986. An accident that changed the face of history.

The Chernobyl incident is a grave warning that despite all the benefits of nuclear power, it can have deadly consequences.

Twenty-five years ago to the day saw a catastrophic incident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. An experiment at the plant went badly wrong and a huge explosion sent massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.

Thousands of people are said to have died from radiation-related diseases as a result of the accident, with figures varying depending on who you ask. The World Health Organisation say 4,000 people died, Greenpeace say it was much more serious and 200,000 lost their lives.

The radiation at Chernobyl was the equivalent of 20 of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the USA at the end of the Second World War.

Hushed up by the Soviet Union, radiation flooded into neighbouring countries like Belarus, Russia and even as far as Scandinavia and Great Britain. Thousands of people living near the plant were forced to flee their homes and never return.

Now the area around Chernobyl is derelict, rotting and full of radiation. The nearby town of Pripyat lies abandoned, a ghost town, left as it was when the 50,000 inhabitants fled in 1986, three days after the incident occurred. Wolves, boars and wild horses are the only residents now.

Chernobyl ranked as a seven of the International Nuclear Event Scale (the scale that determines the severity of nuclear incidents – seven being the highest), and by far the biggest nuclear accident to ever occur.

A huge sarcophagus was built to secure the radiation and to prevent further radiation leaks occurring. The problem – the sarcophagus has begun to crumble and erode away. That’s why the Ukranian government, along with several other European countries, have clubbed together and raised $785 million to build a new 20,000 tonne steel arch to protect the damaged reactor for another century.

The incident at Fukushima in Japan has brought up all of the fears and worries surrounding the issue of nuclear energy. The reactor, damaged by the earthquake that struck on 11 March, suffered substantial damage and radiation seeped out of the damaged plant.

A 12-mile exclusion zone has been set up around Fukushima and thousands of people have been evacuated from the surrounding area.

Fukushima, like Chernobyl has registered as a level 7 incident on the nuclear scale. The amount of radiation leaked at Fukushima is not as severe as Chernobyl, with only one-tenth of the radiation leaked at Fukushima.

To put it into context, around 630,000 terabecquerels of radiation are estimated to have been leaked at Fukushima. More than five million were released at Chernobyl.

Chernobyl taught the world about the dangers of using nuclear energy. 25 years later, the world is better equipped to deal with and more aware of its risks. Nuclear energy may be, for the most part, safe, but Chernobyl will serve as a reminder of what can happen when nuclear energy goes badly wrong.

Stephen’s talks T4TS, Welsh politics and virtual reality in latest blog

It may be a day late (blame all the bank holiday’s for that) but here is Stephen Marlor’s latest blog about his plumbing course.

If you want to find out a bit more information about Stephen and read some of his other blog posts, go to www.stephenwithtrain4tradeskills.blogspot.com  or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stepo1

Here’s Stephen’s latest blog:

You will be glad to hear that everything is fine.

I’m leafleting again for Plaid Cymru and were doing well Vale Of Clwyd , we have a good chance I think this time around.

My house is near enough done, all I’ve got left is the tiling which is being done tonight and more woodwork in the bathroom and kitchen, apart from that it has gone very smoothly.

I’ve done all my scenarios so I’m looking at concentrating on unit 25 and I do it in sections so I can understand it a lot better. If I need any help I always contact my Tutors and they give me all the help I need.

This weekend I will be leafleting and doing more campaigning.

And I would like to wish all the Tutors and Bloggers A Happy Easter!

In Welsh it is Said like this – Pasg Hapus!!

Until Next Time,

Stephen

Listen to T4TS Radio on the move with iPhone, iPod and iPad

T4TS Radio, the online radio station for trainee electricians, plumbers and gas engineers, is now available to listen to on iPhone’s, iTunes and iPad’s.

T4TS Radio is available on several sites on the web, mainly the Train4TradeSkills Radio Blog, the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages and our page on Scribd.

Now you can listen to your fellow students on the move if you have an iPhone or put it on your iPod through iTunes. Here’s how you do it:

Listen to T4TS Radio on iTunes

It all starts at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills

Go there and you will see all of the student interviews from T4TS Radio.

All you need to do is click on the iTunes button (pictured) and it will automatically download the latest shows for you (you will need iTunes open on your computer).

Easy! And it’s completely free as well. You can then listen to T4TS Radio on iTunes and put it on your iPod.

Listen to T4TS Radio on iPhone / iPad

To do this, you’re going to need an iPhone or an Android phone. Download the AudioBoo app on your phone (it’s free)

There are a number of options for you to personalise your AudioBoo experience. Featured Boos are those chosen by AudioBoo for extra exposure, Popular Boos are those attracting many listeners, Recent Boos are shown in chronological order and there is a function called FOLLOWED BOOS. To activate followed Boos you will need to make a quick trip to http://www.audioboo.fm/

Once at the AudioBoo site please take a moment to register, this will help you to personalise AudioBoo even more and links to our iPhone app.

You can then search for your Favourite Boos. In the search box, above, enter the name “Train4TradeSkills”. That gave us numerous matches.

Now it’s just a simple click of the follow button and you are following your chosen station or Boos. In this case, pictured above is the Train4TradeSkills logo. Your account would now be following T4TS Radio. And now you have done this simultaneously for your iPhone AudioBoo application, check out the Followed Boos on your handset.

You can now listen to T4TS Radio straight from your iPhone or Android phone. Follow exactly the same method if you own an iPad and want to listen to T4TS Radio – just download the “AudioBoo” app

You can also listen to T4TS Radio on our continuous live feed via Stickam at www.stickam.com/train4tradeskills  

Easter special: Nation goes DIY crazy, but it means more work for plumbers

It’s Easter soon and a four-day weekend for the majority of the nation. Because of this, DIY projects are set to go through the roof as most homeowners plan to descend on the likes of B+Q and Homebase to renovate their homes.

DIY work is a great way to save yourself some money when renovating your home. But only if you know what you’re doing.

DIY mistakes can be very costly and the money that you thought you were saving to do it yourself ends up being spent to call in a professional to fix your mistake.

That’s why UK plumbers are expecting an increase in work this year due to botched DIY projects. A new survey by Wickes found that a third of tradesmen and plumbers expect an increase in business in 2011 compared to last year.

Not to scare you too much, but here are some of the DIY-related stories we have previously featured on Train4TradeSkills News.

£235 million spent a year correcting botched DIY mistakes

Report says 1 in 10 UK households paid £500 to fix their own DIY work and had to call in a professional tradesman. READ MORE >>

DIY still alien to many homeowners

Study by TV channel Home finds alarming results about people knowledge of building tools, and finds 15% of British men can’t even change a lightbulb. READ MORE >>

DIY Disaster cuts off whole streets gas supply

An area of Stoke was without power for days after a resident mistakenly attached his new boilers water pipe to a gas pipe. READ MORE>>

Are you planning on doing any DIY work this weekend? Let us know on here or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and follow us on Twitter.