Monthly Archives: June 2011

Train4TradeSkills Weekend Catch Up: 13-19 June

In case you missed what’s going on during the week, Train4TradeSkills introduces the WeekendCatch-Up, which will have all of the best stories from our blogs (and a few others) and the latest plumbing, electrician and construction industry news from the last week.

I’m going to take a different angle for you this week, and choose the top 3 stories from this week for you. So without further ado, here’s this week’s Weekend Catch Up for you:

1) Train4TradeSkills students give you advice on how to get jobs and work placements

FRIDAY: Are you looking for work experience as a plumber or electrician? At the moment it can be difficult, so Train4TradeSkills students who have got that experience tell you how to get it and share their advice, with Part 2 of Train4TradeSkills News’ work experience guide. READ MORE>>>

2) New figures create confusion over state of housing market

TUESDAY: New figures have slammed the state of the housing market, yet just like the state of the construction industry, which we wrote about last week, there are contradicting figures, like the ones from the Homes and Communities Agency, that suggest otherwise. READ MORE>>

3) How text messaging can help your plumbing or electrical business

THURSDAY: If you are a self-employed plumber or electrician, then you are going to want to communicate with existing customers to get more work. A new study has found text messaging is the best way to do that, and can greatly improve your business. READ MORE>>>

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T4TS Radio: Anthony talks about his plumbing training

Anthony Brown is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. T4TS Radio’s Tom Jinks spoke to Anthony to see how his course was going, his practical training and how he found the theory part of the course.

You can listen to Anthony’s interview at or via AudioBoo at

Train4TradeSkills Students give you advice on how to get jobs and work placements – Part 2

Are you training to be a plumber or electrician with Train4TradeSkills and want to get some practical experience outside of your course? T4TS Radio has spoken to a number of students who are working in the industry alongside their training and gaining valuable experience.

These students offer their advice and tips of how they managed to get work placements and jobs, so you can follow in their footsteps. We’ve already done one of these guides (which you can read here), and here’s Part 2.

Here are the students and the excerpts from their T4TS Radio interviews. All of the interviews are available to listen to at  and you can read and download the stories via Scribd at

Hafiz Aziz

I work in a property maintenance company actually, when I was doing some handyman jobs, but I really need to upgrade myself, so that’s why I’m doing the electrical course.

I was doing some small leaks and small repairs in normal houses actually, but I can’t do work electrical work because I’m not qualified, which has made my take on this course with Train4TradeSkills again. Once I’ve completed my new training, I can take on more work for the property maintenance company.

Read Hafiz’s full interview from T4TS Radio

Pete Whitmarsh

During the summer holiday time, as I obviously get six weeks off in the summer, I’ve been working alongside a couple of plumbers, sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid work, just to gain experience and learn from people on-site as well as within the training centres in Southampton.

Can you tell us a bit about how you managed to get that experience with the plumbers?

I’m quite lucky as my father-in-law is an architect, he has a few contacts with the tradespeople and he managed to give me the name of a plumber, a couple of plumbers, and I’ve just asked them if he would mind me coming along. Some have declined, but some were helpful enough to say, yeah just come along. I spent a week or a couple of weeks at a time with each plumber, a lot of it was unpaid but it was valuable experience for myself.

Listen to Pete’s interview from T4TS Radio

Stephen Marlor

I arranged some work experience with a local plumber in Rhyl called Chris Bereton. I got in touch with Chris through A few other plumbers declined the chance for me to gain work experience, but Chris agreed and I every Thursday and Friday for three months I got some work experience in plumbing.

While on work experience, I helped him with renovations and installing facilities in brand new homes, such as pipework in the kitchen, installing radiators, showers and boilers in the homes.

I found the experience extremely useful, as it allowed me to see and practice what I was learning in the theory part of the course. I learnt a lot and asked plenty of questions.

Chris was very impressed with what I was doing and said he would have trained me up himself if I wasn’t already training to be a plumber.

Listen to Stephen’s interview from T4TS Radio

Dalton Gilbert

I’ve been an electrician for 20 years and have previously worked for a previous small contractor firm and some big industrial firm like Sky, EDF and Virgin energy.

I would definitely tell people it’s a good field to get into because the working industry in the world right now needs engineers and electricians. The jobs are very demanding, and you have to put in that perseverance and be dedicated to your task, to be a successful electrician.

Listen to Dalton’s Interview from Train4TradeSkills Radio

Darren Rodgers

I started my plumbing course in June 2010, since starting the course I have worked for a company that does all building works. I have been mainly working with the other plumber they have.

T4TS has given me the knowledge to install six full bathroom suites in six different flats, on my own, and am now sent out alone to do small maintenance jobs for the company.

I also managed to get a private job for myself fitting a new bathroom for a friend of a friend, since then I found out they own a line of properties and have got me in to fit new bathrooms in 2 of them and have asked me to do another next month.

Read Darren’s interview from Student of the Month

Ben Beadle

Ben works as an apprentice plumber and says:

The time had come to service the 9 boilers in a block of flats for a regular customer. Under the supervision of a qualified gas safe engineer I got underway with servicing the boilers of which 8 passed and gained their landlord certificates.

There was one which the tenant was having problems with the 1st problem was that the pressure had dropped easy fix re pressurise the boiler check that the blow off was dry and PRV and re pressurise expansion vessel.

I fixed the boilers and the customer was very happy to be able to have a shower after three days of no hot water. One thing I would say to everyone even experienced plumbers never assume that a problem on one boiler will be the same on the other because as I have found out it sometimes is not!

Read Ben’s story from Train4TradeSkills Student of the Month here

Read Part 1 of “Train4TradeSkills students give you advice on how to get work placements” on Train4TradeSkills News here.

T4TS Radio: Ian talks to us about his electrical course

Ian Burge is training to become an electrician with Train4TradeSkills. T4TS Radio’s Tom Jinks spoke to Ian to find out how he was getting on.

You can listen to Ian’s story at or via AudioBoo at

How text messaging can impact your plumbing or electrical business

Are you thinking of going self-employed and starting your own plumbing or electrical business? Then communicating with new or existing customers is a must and it is important to build up a client base and keep in contact with them.

A new study by has found that text messages are an invaluable way of interacting with customers. allows tradesmen to register on the site, checks they are reputable and then advertises them in their local area. The site currently has over 6,000 reputable UK tradesmen registered.

In 2007, Checkatrade realised that text messaging was a quicker way to contact their clients. This allowed them to deliver customer feedback in real-time. Tradesmen were immediately made aware of published comments.

“Sending our trades and service providers a text message achieves an instant response unlike emails or leaving a voice message,” says Kevin Byrne, CEO and founder of Checkatrade. “We don’t have to wait for them to get home to check for messages. Now our trade members receive notifications from us by text message every time new feedback has been left by one of their customers. They could be on a building site and as soon as they receive that text they can act on it.”

Checkatrade partnered with, a leading text messaging service provider offering two-way SMS communication services, to deploy its customer feedback solution and started using BulkSMS’s Web to SMS platform in order to send SMS text messages to their registered trade members.

“In addition to this, from their online trader area our members can contact any of their customers and send them a text message reminding them to send their feedback to us. We do not charge our clients for this messaging service,” says Byrne.

Checkatrade have found text messaging invaluable for a quick response either to an individual member or bulk to all of their members.

What do you think – are you self-employed? Do you use text messaging to keep in contact with your customer base, or do you prefer more traditional methods? Let us know and leave your comment on here…

T4TS Radio: Craig talks about his course and working as an electrician’s mate

Craig Holland is training to become an electrician with Train4TradeSkills. T4TS Radio spoke to Craig to see how he was getting on, his experience as an electricians mate and how he arranged it.

You can listen to Craig’s story at and download to iTunes via AudioBoo at

Jeremy Hunt angers English Heritage by backing controversial new plans

I don’t think Jeremy Hunt is going to be on the English Heritage’s Christmas card list any more. The Culture Secretary has ignored their please and given a controversial new scheme the green light.

British Land are set to build £850 million of offices on the Broadgate site in London after Mr Hunt favoured their plans over the objections of English Heritage.

English Heritage wanted the site to be classed as a Grade II listed building, which would have prevented it from being demolished and replaced by new offices.

The Culture Secretary has stated in a letter to the English Heritage that the “building’s architectural design, decoration and craftsmanship is impressive, but not to the extent that it meets the high bar of outstanding quality.”

This controversial decision paves the way for 5 Broadgate to be transformed into a new 66,890 sq m office, which will be the new London headquarters from investment bank UBS.

The £850 million plans will create construction jobs in the capital, with British Land estimating that 5,000 construction jobs will be created from the scheme in the next five years.

What do you think – did Jeremy Hunt make the right call? Let us know what you think by commenting below…


Cliff talks Electrical modules and Virtual reality scenarios in latest blog

As you will know if you are a regular reader of his blog, Cliff Raw is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills and is one of our student bloggers.

You can take a look at Cliff’s blog at  and follow him on Twitter at

This week’s post is on module 26 Electricity, some of which we covered earlier in module 4 Key Plumbing Principles.

I completed this module without much difficulty as it was more of a recap and when we covered this subject in module 4 I went to the trouble of getting a copy of the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations and part P of the building regulations – thrilling reading as you can imagine.

My brother is an electrician so I was able to pick his brains on the subject and as the majority of the module was dealing with domestic electrical installation, earth continuity, testing and decommissioning. It was very useful to have someone with the amount of experience that my brother has. Not only that but he has all the testing equipment, so I got to have a go at the real thing under his watchful eyes which is the way I learn best.

What I am struggling with is the electrical scenario CD which I find very frustrating, maybe because I am using quite an old laptop and the software runs very slowly, A wise man once said “perseverance is preferable” so I will battle on with it until I get it cracked.

I have three scenarios to complete before I move on to module 27, so it might be some time before I get to that. On the other hand it may just become apparent and I’ll finish all three in a few hours.

I have still two faults to find and three fault codes to rectify, so I am going to sign off for now I might do an update during the week when I complete all three.

To see a photo of how Cliff got on with his electrical scenarios, and to see an exclusive offer for Train4TradeSkills students, go to his blog at

New figures create confusion over state of housing market

New figures this week revealed the housing industry is reportedly in chaos as new residential construction starts are 31% lower this year, compared to 2010.

Research from construction analyst Glenigan into the state of the housin g market found that 31% fewer new starts will undertaken in the first few months of this year, compared to the same period a year ago.

They found that private housing starts were down 32% and social housing projects fell by 23% in the first few months of 2011.

Not good at all, even when we are in the midst of a recession. The housing and construction industry is going through a rough time at the moment, just like any industry, as no sector has managed to survive the recession unscathed. But there is hope on the horizon.

The Homes and Communities Agency, the government’s housing body, has this week announced that they have beaten their targets for new homes for the last year, beating their targets by a huge 65 per cent.

The HCA started work on 57,605 new homes in the UK last year, which was way up on their targets of 34,982 new homes.

In other positive news for the housing industry, new research indicates that planning approval for commercial property is on the rise, with 16% more schemes given planning consent over the last few months.

The study, which was undertaken by commercial law firm EMW, found that more major commercial property developments were approved over the last year. 531 planning applications were approved, up from 459 a year earlier.

And with Housing Minister Grant Shapps’ plans to build more new homes by selling off public land set to happen over the next few months, it could lead to a major upturn for the fortunes of the housing market. With the proposals set to create thousands of new jobs to boost the building of new homes, there could soon be brighter times ahead.

What do you think – what is the current state of the housing industry and when will it improve? Let us know by commenting on here, or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.


Should UK contractors try and be a part of China’s construction boom?

China is fast becoming the king of the construction world and a huge boom is going on in the country when it comes to new projects.

New research indicates that a new skyscraper is being built every three days in China and this will continue for three years, which means hundreds of new skyscrapers are being built.

Building Design report that the 2011 China Skyscraper City List showed the staggering increase in construction activity in China in recent months and the plans for the next few years. The main points are:

– Five out of the top 10 tallest buildings in the world are based in China and Taiwan

– Out of the 50 skyscrapers being built in the next six years around the world – half of them will be in China

– China has 2000 skyscrapers (over 500ft tall) under construction or in the pipeline – that’s the equivalent to the total number of skyscrapers in the USA.

Financial experts have questioned whether China is overdoing it and just building skyscrapers for the sake of it, but regardless, this is huge for the global industry and something the UK construction industry should look to be a part of.

The UK construction industry is going through a tough time, just like any industry in the midst of a recession. Why not try and capitalise on another country’s construction boom and try and win work on some Chinese projects?

What do you think? Should UK companies try to capitalise on China’s immense success? Let us know and leave your comment below…


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