Category Archives: Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks

British Land reaches key milestone in London redevelopment

British Land reaches key milestone in the redevelopment of Harmsworth Quays

The first step has been taken to allow the redevelopment of the 14.57 acre Harmsworth Quays printing works site in Canada Water, South East London, to go ahead.

Southwark Council has given its approval for the Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT) to assign its leasehold interest in the site to British Land.

The decision is a key milestone for the development which has the potential to deliver significant improvements to the local area and create new trade jobs.

Cllr Fiona Colley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Southwark Council, said: “In addition to new homes, the redevelopment of Harmsworth Quays has the potential to deliver the town centre and jobs that Rotherhithe really needs.”

British Land will now begin working up proposals in consultation with Southwark Council and the local community to realise the full potential of this important site. Vacant possession of the site will be available later this year following the relocation of DMGT’s printing operations to Thurrock.

Southwark Council, which is currently developing policy to guide the redevelopment, will be adopting a preferred option of its Area Action Plan in May for consultation. This will emphasise the council’s and community’s vision to create a mixed-use town centre at Canada Water.

Both Southwark Council and British Land have committed to exploring the potential to create a new campus for Kings College as part of the scheme, to complement their proposals for the adjoining site at the Mulberry Business Park.

Nigel Webb, Head of Development for British Land, said: “We are delighted that the London Borough of Southwark has agreed the assignment for Harmsworth Quays. We can now begin the process of working with the local community, the London Borough of Southwark and other key stakeholders to bring forward a new, mixed use development in the heart of Canada Water.”


More construction jobs in Bath

The University of Bath has awarded a £16m contract to VINCI Construction UK for the design and construction of a new, five-storey teaching building.

The General Teaching Accommodation (GTA) will include a range of high quality learning facilities, including group lecture rooms, two 350-space lectures theatres, and social spaces.

Glass walls spanning three storeys will provide high levels of natural light into a five-storey high circulation space. A ‘skywalk’ bridge will also connect the building with the main campus parade.

Once completed, the 8,000m2 building will double the number of large scale lecture theatres on campus, allowing up to 2,000 students to use the building at any one time.

The contract is part of the University Masterplan which provides a framework for the development of the campus until 2026.

Martyn Whalley, University of Bath’s Director of Estates, said: “The Masterplan sets out how we plan to provide state of the art facilities and with the new GTA we will have a wonderful resource to match the high quality of our teaching and learning.”

Steve Vorres, Regional Director, VINCI Construction UK, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by the University of Bath to deliver the new GTA building which forms part of the University’s three year major capital works investment programme. This scheme will provide an exemplar teaching facility for the University’s staff and growing student population and we are extremely proud to be part of its construction and legacy. The GTA project award continues the region’s recent successes of working with University clients. These relationships form an essential part of our key account strategy and stand us in good stead for our future pipeline”.

Completion is due in September 2013 with an opening date set for the following October. The project aims to further enhance the reputation of the university, which already boasts a top ten ranking in The Guardian’s 2013 university guide.

Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Amanda blogs about her electrical course: November 2011

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

This week I’ve been revising over some past work, I find I’m having to do a little at a time as my concentration levels aren’t at their best just now. I’ve been getting a little frustrated with myself, so yesterday I decided to have my first attempt on my practice board, just to see if it would help bring things back to the front of my mind a little. I had a quick go at a Ring final circuit with what materials I have so far. I’d have liked to have added more to it, but I’m getting the accessories as and when possible, so it had to, for the time being, be a very basic crack at the whip.

I trundled off down the cellar accompanied by Bruce my trusty sidekick, leaving the books upstairs, and got on with trying to put in practice what I could remember. It was the best idea I’ve had all week! As I was going along making the circuit, things seemed to just pop to the front of my mind again and I found myself recalling things I’d forgotten about. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was only upset by the fact I wanted to add more and carry on, but due to lack of 2.5 cable and extra surface mount boxes and socket plates, I had to be content with What I had.

It was a really useful experience as I was realising better ways of doing things as I was going along, and I walked away from it when I’d finished, having found a bit more confidence in myself again and in my ability to retain information. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s mostly still there, it just needs a little shove. Ok, it’s not the most complicated circuit, but I was happy that when I finished and stood back and looked at it, I was fairly happy with it. I really needed a confidence boost, and it seemed to help.

The one thing with home studying that you really miss sometimes, is having your tutor physically there to take a look at your work and give you some pointers. It would be nice to have a virtual “Barry” who could pop up and be able to assess what you’ve done. However, the next best thing I can do is post some photos on here, and hope for anyone reading who has any criticisms, pointers etc to comment. One thing I don’t want to do is get into a rut of turning out work I think is ok, when actually it needs improvement in areas. So I’d very much appreciate comments.

I’m hoping to slowly acquire more accessories, and continue getting a little hands-on where I can in making more complicated circuits. I’ve found it very beneficial, if not even a little therapeutic! I’m determined to get through this whatever has happened and be the best I can be. I think my practice boards are going to be a big part in helping me towards that end. They’re not a substitute for on the job experience, far from it. Until that day comes along however, the more time and experience I can get in having a go at as many varying circuits as possible, the better. I have found a real passion for something, and starting on this journey has been the best thing I have done in my life so far. I’ve found something that I enjoy and that really has a grip of my interest. I wake up and I want to learn more and more. If I don’t get through the day feeling I’ve absorbed something, then I’ve had a bad day.

I’m hoping at the end of this week to get out and buy some more cable clips, some more earth sleeving, and a couple more surface mount boxes and possibly a bit more 2.5 cable. I intend to extend the circuit, add some non fused and fused spurs etc. Then I want to get more things together for a lighting circuit, and get some experience in that, especially to have a go at intermediate switching. Between now and then, it’s back to the books and flash cards, and see if I can’t train Bruce to make the brews in time for my next venture into the cellar 😉

I’d like to say a big thank you to those who donated some accessories etc to help towards getting my board set up. I really very much appreciate it. The all round help and support from those in the industry has been amazing and I feel blessed to have made some great friends and acquaintances. You know who you are, and Thank you!!!

Read all of Amanda’s blog posts and see the photos from her practice boards on her blog at


Train4TradeSkills Students give you advice on how to get jobs and work placements – Part 6

Are you training to be a plumber or electrician with Train4TradeSkills and want to get some practical experience outside of your course?

Train4TradeSkills 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.


Dave Hawke

“I’ve been running my own property maintenance business for the last 5 or 6 years. I’ve just got a contract now to fit a bathroom, kitchen and a toilet as it goes. But I just turn my hand to just about anything and everything.”

Tell us a bit about your business then – how do you get your customers?

“I rely totally on word of mouth, I don’t advertise. I literally go by word of mouth because I find that’s the best way. If you’re recommended, then people will know you’re pretty good.

I’m a member of a church and I’ve built it through the church. I’ve found by doing work for people there, they all know people and I’ve networked from that and spread to other churches.

If you’re setting up your own business you need to be determined, you’ve got to have pretty thick skin and you’ve got to be prepared for knockbacks, putting in long hours and doing quotes and not hearing back. It’s not easy, you don’t just say I’m going to start a business and then off you go, It can be a long hard road but the rewards are great so it’s quite a rewarding career to get into.”


Mark Holloway

“I’m doing some plumbing, working for someone. I’ve been doing it for about 3, 4 months. I’ve been doing all sorts of work. The person I work for is not just a plumber, he’s an electrician, he does plastering, all building work – so a bit of everything.

It’s actually my girlfriend’s dad that I work for – It’s paid work as well. The work definitely helps with the practical side as it gives you a lot more experience and makes you quicker at doing everything.”


Mark Gilder

“I am working for a plumbing and heating engineer, who has been running a business for 26 years now, so well established. I signed up to study and what I did is to get myself on various building sites just doing labouring work to make contacts and it paid off for me. I got a contact and it resulted in a job.

I’m doing everything from repairing taps and radiators through to new boiler and central heating installations. Some of it he trusts me now to go ahead and do on my own, and the more technical elements of it, the gas and the boilers, he obviously does that side of the work.

I’ve been with my employer for just over a year and through various discussions he’s looking to retire in 4-5 years time and he’s looking for me to take the business forward. So I’ve rather landed on my feet really. I’ll stay with my employer and eventually take over his business. I’ll effectively be self-employed but running an established business.”


Sean Whitmore

“I’m a general builder, so I’m in the building industry and I just want to further my career. I’ve run my own business for the last 10-15 years and mainly do extensions. I cover most parts of the building industry – plastering, bricklaying, concreting, tiling – so I cover quite a big range.

I’ve grown my business basically from a base of people who I’ve worked for before. You do a good job at the right price, you’re name gets around and you try and keep up a high standard – word of mouth normally is the best way.”


Chris Summerfield

“I’ve got a paid job with a plumbing company, who teach me a bit of everything. They are starting to get me to work on boilers, do a lot of bathrooms. I go to commercial properties and sort out their plumbing problems ie. Their toilet not flushing properly and basic jobs like that. And then you could be on-site for a week and do different bits of plumbing.”

Tell us how you went about getting that job then?

“I just spotted one of the vans driving around and I just rang on the off-chance and they said they would keep my name and number. They called back about a month later and said are you still looking for some plumbing work – so I’m on an initial three-month trial.”

You can listen all the full interviews from Sean, Chris, Mark H, Dave and Mark G at  – where you can download to iTunes and your smartphones (iPhone and Android) if you have one.


Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Cliff blogs about his T4TS Plumbing Course: October 2011

Hi to all sorry I haven’t posted for a few weeks I have been taking a break having finished my level 2 course work and practical’s.

Now it’s time to start level 3 and its quite a shocker starting right in at the deep end with Gas Installation A, which is Module 33.

I still don’t have a mentor but time waits for no man so I am getting on with the theory regardless, this first module of gas is mainly an introduction to gas and is quite daunting in the fact that there are lots of new regulations and BS to reference from, The advice given to me at my last practical training session was to forget the plumbing while doing the gas, as it’s a completely separate discipline and it is easy to confuse yourself with too much information.

The reference material for this module is as follows.

Gas (installation & use) Regulations 1998(GSIUR)

• Utilization Procedures IGE/UP/1B Edition 2:Tightness testing & purging of small natural gas installation.

•  BS 6891: 2005 Installation Pipework in Domestic Premises.

• BS 6400-1 Installation of domestic sized meters. Low pressure supply

•  BS 6400-1 Installation of domestic sized meters. Medium pressure supply

• Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

So as you can see this is a lot of reference material to gather and read and also as usual British Standards Institution publications are extraordinarily over priced and outside the of the reach of students such as myself at about £300 for BS 6400 1&2.

Also copy right laws mean you can’t find these documents to download. Personally I think it is a complete con and will never pay such outrageous prices for any such publications even if I was on gas installer’s income and I think that is the general fact in the industry nobody bothers to purchase them.

You can read all of Cliff’s blogs about his plumbing course and practical training diaries at



Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Daniel blogs about his electrician course: October 2011

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

It’s been a while since my last post, I’ve been going through my previous assessment tests to see how much I have retained and identify any areas I need to brush up on.

I am pleasantly surprised how much I’ve retained which is good, there just a few area’s I need to revisit. I have also been in touch with Train4TradeSkills to organise my practical training, so just in the process of sorting that out now.

I will be glad to get them under my belt so to speak, and being able to put into practice what I have learnt in the text books.

As I mentioned previously I have a study plan for each week, which helps me to keep on track. There are always times when it doesn’t always go to plan, because of my work commitments, but on the whole it is helping me.

I am also hoping to go to the Sparks Expo road show on Friday, which is in Bolton. It is an industry show for apprentice electricians and trainee electricians, so I’m hoping to meet some people from the industry.





Sparks Expo special: Train4TradeSkills student Amanda talks about the electrical event

Last week I went along to the Sparks Expo at the Reebok Stadium, along with another fellow T4TS student. On arrival we were pleasantly greeted by the Team from Sparks Magazine, and received a bag containing some goodies. There were numerous stalls to look around and representatives from various Companies. Some of which were also giving away a few goodies.

We managed to have a good chat with Tony Cable from the NICEIC about the new Regs changes, and found him to be extremely helpful. Dave meanwhile was playing quiz master to 2 teams from local colleges.

We also spoke to the representatives from the Learning Lounge which we are both subscribed to and agree we both find it very useful indeed. I really do recommend subscribing to the Learning Lounge, the content is extremely well put together and updated regularly. I’ve not to date come across a better package, it’s really the best value for money I’ve come across. Here is the link for anyone interested –

We looked around the various stalls, and watched some demonstrations, unfortunately the Tech talks had been cancelled due to lack of available space, but I’m assured they will be there at next year’s event.

One item that really caught my eye, as I’d seen it used in a training video, was the Wiha Torque Vario Screwdriver set. This really does seem a great investment for peace of mind when it comes to ensuring terminations are neither over-tightened or too loose. The tool is adjustable and can thus be set to the Manufacturers recommended torque settings.

Ok, so the price tag seems a little high at first, and I know I won’t be getting one until I’m in the trade and earning, but, for the peace of mind of a job well done, I can only believe it would be an investment. It’s certainly going on my list of must-haves.

Another really helpful chap was Paul Skinner from Megger. We had a look at the various products available as he explained the benefits of each depending on intended application. They seem to produce a good variety of testing equipment.

Before leaving, we managed to have a chat with Cellia from SNG publishing, who are responsible for the very useful Sparks Magazine, a Magazine aimed at trainee Electricians, and packed full of helpful and informative information.

It’s a shame the tech talks couldn’t go ahead, but all in all it was an interesting and informative day. It was nice to put some faces to names, and to view some of the products out there. I will most definitely be attending next year’s event.


You can read Amanda’s Blog about her electrician course and find out more about her visit to the Sparks Expo at

Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Amanda’s blog about her electrician course: October 2011

My mother, friend and inspiration. On with the studies!

I have been away from my studies for 4 months now, it sounds quite a long time but it doesn’t feel it. I tried during that time to sit down now and then with the books, but it was pointless. There was nothing sinking in and I felt like I’d forgotten everything I’d learnt up to that point. I’ve now had a week of easing myself back in to study, and slowly but surely I’m getting into it again. I have spoken on the phone to my tutor, and his advice has been beneficial as always, highlighting what I’ve said in the past; If you’re struggling with anything, don’t be afraid to talk with the tutors.

I had a particularly rough patch where I was ready to just throw in the towel, I felt like there was just no way I could face studying with all that’s happened. Luckily, on my sideboard facing me is a photo taken of my Mum on her graduation day at university. The photo looks like she’s looking at me knowingly, and it hit me, She did know exactly.

For the next few weeks I have decided to concentrate solely on revising everything I’ve done to date, then when I’m more confident I can recall it all, I’ll continue forward and do my next assignment. Once that is completed, I will be ready to go for my first 2 weeks at the training centre. I’m hoping reaching that first milestone will help me be more confident.

My Mum was an amazing woman, no matter what, she was always there for me, and more than anyone else in my life, she believed in me. She funded the course for me, and was always there with a smile and a hug when I got an assignment result.

I know what I have to do to live up to their example, and I have every intention of doing it. I hope one day to be classed as an Electrician, and to fully deserve to be classed as such. When that day comes, I’ll remember watching my Mum graduate and be able to be proud to have lived up to her belief in me.

You can read Amanda’s Blog about her electrician course at


Train4TradeSkills Students give you advice on how to get jobs and work placements – Part 5

Are you training to be a plumber or electrician with Train4TradeSkills and want to get some practical experience outside of your course?

Train4TradeSkills 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.

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

Rich Boden

Plumbing Course

“I’m a self-employed roofer. I started off working for a firm as a kid getting my experience. And then what I did from working with them I’d do weekend jobs for family and friends and jobs on the side and their friends said “you’ve done a good job, do you want to do this…” and the recommendation side of it.

From that I started to get a bit busier and was trying to squeeze jobs in at the weekends, as I was working full-time for a firm Monday-Friday I didn’t have time. So I started cutting out on them so I could do my own work. It was a bit of a gamble at the start, I cut myself off from them and worked independently.

Then it came to setting up a website for a few hundred pounds, advertise in a local newspaper. Luckily my mum is a local community representative and she put an ad in for the local community voice paper that goes round to all the local houses, so I got quite a bit of work through that as well.”

Neil Pain

Plumbing Course

“I met up with a chap who I’ve known for years and he’s given me a break really. He needed someone to do general labouring and it’s gone from there. I’m doing carpentry, roofing, a bit of everything really.

I’m self-employed already, so initially my plans are to go out and do general plumbing, hopefully pass my solar as well. At the moment because I’ve got a fair bit of building work I might branch out on my own and do extensions and incorporate the plumbing into that.”

James Passas

Plumbing Course

For the last 5 years I started up a handyman company with a friend of mine and we do various types of work. Apart from plumbing, we do bathroom installations, kitchen installations and smaller jobs, from painting and decorating to laying floors, carpentry, tiling – that sort of thing.

For the people who want to go self-employed and start their own business, what ways have you found are the best to get customers?

It starts off as word of mouth really and then setting up the website helped and making sure it was reasonably high up in the Google rankings, advertising. After a few years we’ve found the customers have increased and we’re getting more and more queries from people.

Dan Hardy

Plumbing Course

I’ve been doing some unpaid work experience with a local plumber, so I work with him a couple of times a week or when I can and he teaches me the ropes. The main thing I’m getting out of it is the experience. It’s alright doing this course but being on-site is where it’s at and it prepares you a bit more.

What sort of jobs have you been doing with the plumber then?

PVC plasting piping, fitting in radiators, toilets, done a central heating system and general repairing and replacing taps. It’s been pretty full-on and it’s given me the determination to finish the course and do it for real full-time.

Can you tell us how you went about arranging the plumbing work experience?

I just got the Yellow pages and wrote all the names down and typed up a letter saying what my name is and I’m doing a Level 2 Plumbing Course, is there any chance of any unpaid work experience to help me along. And if they replied that’s a bonus and if not, just keep on trying.

Simon Venable

Plumbing Course

“I run my own business now. It’s plumbing, property and gardening services, which I’ve been doing since February 2011. I’ve been doing bathrooms, wetrooms, kitchen sinks and replacing traps in bathrooms and kitchens, radiators”.

How do you get your business then?

“Word of mouth and business cards. I’ve put one advert when I first started in a local magazine. That cost me £70 to put the advert in, but on the strength of that I got 3 customers, 2 of which came back for extra work – so it more than paid for itself.”

Shaun Burke

Plumbing Course

“I’m now installing solar panels on roofs – doing PV ones at the moment. The company I’m working for now are going to put me on the thermal panel and the hot water side, so I’ll be trained up for them and work there. Once I’m trained up fully, I’ll start installing those as well.

The course will help me out with the job that I’m doing now – I could get on the other side instead of doing the PV panels and do the install of the thermal panels on the roofs, as people are going to push for a big drive for them to be installed on people’s houses.”

You can listen all the full interviews from Neil, Rich, James, Dan, Simon and Shaun at – where you can download to iTunes and your smartphones (iPhone and Android) if you have one.

Cliff’s Train4TradeSkills Practical Training Diary – Week 6


Well it’s Week 6 and the beginning of the end of level 2 this morning. There’s another group of students arriving for their practical, whether it be plumbing or electrics, week one or eleven all are mingling around the canteen chatting about their journeys, meeting new people or even some familiar faces met on previous visits.

I already know what I have in-store for me this week it’s my bathroom install assessment, and I am looking forward to getting on with it. The ATL centre is still down one tutor due to sickness so Robert is going to have to spread his time between two groups again, which is not a problem as we are supposed to do the install without any help from the tutors.

Nevertheless he spends twenty minutes with us explaining the requirements of the task, which include designing the layout, a full materials list, a written summary description and photographic evidence. So a good part of the morning is spent planning and setting out, we are to use plastic pipe and John Guest Speedfit® fittings below floor level and copper above floor level so it is going to be quite a quick install and I have almost finished the first fix by 4.30pm so I call it a day.


Not feeling so good this morning as I am aching all over and have the sniffles first signs of man flu -just what I need this week! I get down to work regardless and soon complete the first fix and notching of the floor boards and proceed to pressure test the first fix.

Out in the real world this would be no problem as all my fitting would be new but here in the centre we re-use old fittings, so after changing several faulty service valves I manage to complete a successful pressure test and with the help of another student take the first of my photographic evidence photo’s.

I have been trying since I arrived yesterday to get Robert to read my updated summary description from last week so that I can sign the work off in my portfolio, but he is hard to pin down for long and I have to literally stand in front of him with my work and a pen to get him to check it and even then he only has time to scan it briefly before we are informed that we have exams in five minutes, Ouch wasn’t expecting that Wednesday is the usual day for exams but due to the amount of exams to get through this week they had decided to start earlier in the week.

So I have two exams Environmental Awareness In Plumbing and Effective Working Relationships In The Plumbing Industry, It feels very thrust upon us and my head is banging with the onset of flu, I Have a real problem keeping focused in the exam and am not happy when I leave the examination room and with good reason as it turned out.

I flunked the environmental awareness exam which surprises me as it’s a bit of a pet subject for me, re-sits Thursday before I can sit the end GOLA exam. So a bit disconsolate I return to my bay to continue with my bathroom install, “at least that is going well” Robert has spotted that I am not at my best and comes and spends a bit of time with me going over the environmental awareness with me, I really like Robert and his teaching methods and I am feeling much better when I leave for home.


The Flu has really got me now and I am avoiding contact with rest of the group to avoid passing it on, fortunately I am working in a bay on my own so they should be OK as long as they keep their distance.

I get my head straight to finishing my installation and have it completed by lunchtime with no problems at all and took the other photo for the supplementary evidence and had Robert in to check and appraise the installation. I am not the first to finish this week but I am very happy with the finished job.

The sun is out today and I enjoy lunch sitting out in the fresh air and it makes my flu feel not so bad. The afternoon was spent methodically decommissioning the bathroom, counting and listing all the fixtures, fittings and pipe work used in the bathroom as I can use it to make a the accurate material’s list needed for supplementary evidence. It takes the whole afternoon to strip out, recycle and return the bay back to the blank canvas it was to begin with, I would of liked to get away early today to revise but it 5pm by the time I leave the centre tiered but satisfied that I only have my write-up left to do.


Big day today as its re-sit and my GOLA Assessment End Test, and there is no waiting around were straight into the exam room at 9.30am I have fully prepared myself with max strength flu capsules this morning and am feeling much clearer in the head the re-sit is easy and I have no problem with 18 questions then its straight on with the GOLAHOO!!! Lots of good vibes going around everyone’s done really well nobody needs to re-sit.

So congratulations to all my fellow students who completed their Level 2 plumbing. I can now look forward to starting my level 3 course work and I will be back soon with a week 7 training diary many thanks also to my friends and family for all your support, especially my partner Carmen without you none of this would have happened.

Read the rest of Cliff’s practical training diaries on his plumbing blog at