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Why youth is the elixir of life for ailing construction industry

Could an injection of youth be the saviour of the construction industry?

The construction industry needs a steady stream of new recruits and apprenticeships to stimulate the market and get out of the recession.

Sky News this week was talking about all the young people flooding universities with applications to take “mickey mouse” subjects (Football studies anyone?).

Eamonn Holmes piped up with, “meanwhile we have no electricians, plumbers and hair dressers.”

While there are lots of established plumbers and electricians out there, more apprentices are needed to boost the market – after all, they are the future of the industry.

Yes, you are bound to get veteran plumbers or electricians out there with forty years experience in the industry, who say there’s no point training to become a plumber or electrician because there’s no work out there.

So what’s the industry going to do when they retire – collapse?

Have you ever considered they don’t want new people to join the industry because they might lose out on work?

Let’s consider the evidence. A number of construction experts have said more apprenticeships are needed to stimulate the industry.

Firstly, there’s Steve Turner, the Head of Communications at the Home Builders Federation (HBF). Mr Turner believes apprenticeships help to boost the amount of new property being constructed. He said:

 “The green agenda and the eco-homes agenda are great examples of where we are going to need qualified and trained people in the future. All parties need to be working together to ensure we have got that capacity and those skills for the coming years.”

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) seem to agree, and have said that the Green Deal, the Government’s jewel in their eco-friendly crown, will depend on a skilled workforce and a lot more apprentices than first thought. Originally 1,000 apprentices were thought to be needed for the Green Deal plans, but the FMB want to see that number increased.

The government also value the need for more apprenticeships and trainees. In this year’s Budget, the government announced they want to create 250,000 new apprenticeships by 2015 and 100,000 work placements for young people.

We’ve got a number of examples of students who are gaining valuable skills in the construction industry as they undertake their training. T4TS Radio has featured a number of stories from trainees with jobs. Here are a few examples for you:

“I’ve recently got a new job, which is fitting solar panels. I told them about my plan and the course that I’m on and they said as soon as I get to the relevant level in my electrician’s course, as soon as a position becomes available, I can move across to that.” – JOHN EVANS

“I’ve got an apprenticeship, so I work alongside a plumbing and heating engineer five days a week, so I get a lot of experience out on-site as well. With my job before I worked in a merchant so I knew a lot of plumbers that were coming in and out of the shop and I went round asking people that I got to know and it took me a while and eventually someone said to me I am looking for an apprentice now and it went from there.” – ASTON SKINNER

“I work for a property maintenance company actually, when I was doing some handyman jobs, some small leaks and repairs in homes, but I really need to upgrade myself, so that’s why I’m doing the electrical course.” – HAFIZ AZIZ

You can listen to John, Aston and Hafiz (as well as many more interviews) on T4TS Radio at  or via AudioBoo at



Green Deal not winning any popularity contests with contractors

The Green Deal: the government’s jewel in their environmentally-friendly crown. It may lead to a cleaner, zero-carbon future, but it seems that the Green Deal isn’t the most popular thing amongst contractors.

A new survey undertaken by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has found that 44% of its members believe homeowners won’t take advantage of the Green Deal, which could lead to fewer jobs for contractors.

The FMB believe the financial incentives are not high enough for homeowners to take advantage of the Green Deal, and that the price of energy efficient repairs and products needs to gone down for the Green Deal to have maximum benefits.

The FMB’s Director of External Affairs, Brian Berry, said: “If the Government wants the Green Deal to be a success it should start by offering additional incentives. 70% of respondents to our survey believe that cutting VAT to 5% on all energy efficient materials and work would increase homeowner interest.”

The Green Deal is part of the government’s quest to become the “greenest government ever” and, starting next year, aims to make all new homes in the UK low carbon. The original plan was for zero carbon homes and to go that extra eco-mile, but this was scrapped by the government in last month’s Budget.

The FMB want to see VAT cut to 5% on all energy efficient materials and work to create more construction jobs. The Green Deal is expected to create thousands of new jobs across the country due to the sheer amount of homes needed to eco-friendly, but if this is approved by the government it would make this a certainty and help the construction industry.

The FMB also want small businesses to be given a chance to win work on Green Deal projects and not just the big energy companies that get a monopoly over all the contracts.

What do you think of the FMB’s approach to the Green Deal? Let us know on here, comment on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and message us there.

Demanding a Better Bill campaign challenges government on energy targets

The government’s Energy Bill doesn’t go far enough and needs to be much more ambitious,says a campaign seeks to encourage the government to improve their plans.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the WWF have joined forces and launched a scathing attack on the Energy Bill. They have created the “Demanding a Better Bill” campaign and wants the government to define its ambitions for the Green Deal, and let the public know how they plan to achieve their goals.

The Green Deal is a part of the Energy Bill and involves making all new homes more energy efficient and low-carbon before 2016. It’s all about creating a low-carbon future for the UK and capitalising on green energy, as the government states it wants to become the greenest ever.

The FMB’s Director General Richard Diment said that, “time is running out if the Government is to succeed in its aim to upgrade 14 million homes over the next nine years. To do this, work would need to be completed at the rate of 1.5 million homes a year – almost 30,000 a week.”

The FMB want to see incentives like VAT cut on energy efficient improvements and council tax reduced for the retrofitted homes put in place, to ensure that the Green Deal is a success.

The FMB’s partnership with the WWF comes a week after the WWF resigned from the Zero Carbon taskforce group, claiming that they “could no longer support” the government after they changed their policy and zero-carbon homes. George Osborne announcing the government were abandoning their plans for zero-carbon homes in last month’s Budget for 2011.

What do you think about the government’s plans for the Energy Bill – are they ambitious enough? Let us know at all the usual places, on here or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

Is cutting VAT the way to salvage the government’s Green Deal?

The UK’s leading building organisation has labelled the government’s green homes policy as “inadequate” and more energy incentives and VAT cuts are needed.

The Federation of Master Builders have declared that the coalition government’s plans to offer loans to support green homes are “inadequate” and cutting VAT to 5% would achieve this and create new jobs in the construction industry.

Brian Berry, the director of external affairs at the FMB, said in a statement that reducing VAT would boost the job market and create more jobs from the government’s Green Deal.

Mr Berry said that “a reduced rate of VAT to 5 per cent for all energy efficiency improvement projects would provide a boost as well as create much needed jobs in the building industry.”

On the subject of the Green Deal, Mr Berry said:

“The government has promised thousands upon thousands of new construction jobs as a result of the Green Deal, but unless homeowners are given the best possible deal on their improvements this flagship policy risks falling at the first hurdle.”

Train4TradeSkills spoke to Brian Berry last November about this issue, when the Federation of Master Builders were launching their “Cut the VAT” campaign. Mr Berry told us back then that by cutting the rate of VAT 24,000 extra construction jobs would be created in 2011 and a further 34,000 construction jobs by 2019.

These changes proposed by the FMB would create additional jobs for electrical, plumbing and gas contractors but, to be honest, I cannot see the government backing down and cutting the rate of VAT to 5% any time soon, until we get out of this current financial crisis. I do agree that incentives need to be offered to fully capitalise on the Green Deal to create potentially millions of construction jobs.

What do you think? Is it likely that the government will cut VAT for the Green Deal? Let us know on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

Liberation for the Construction Industry: Building boss demands more jobs for the girls

A CONSTRUCTION industry boss is making a stand against sexism on building sites and wants to get more women to take up a trade.

Brian Berry, the director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), told Train4TradeSkills that the industry is not “all mud and boots” and highlighted the need to encourage more women to enter the construction industry.

Mr Berry said that women bring a different skill set to construction and that the industry needs to get over its male-dominated stereotype. He believes more teenagers should be encouraged to investigate careers in construction. He said: “It’s all about breaking down the barriers and get rid of the notion that construction is not all mud and boots and specifically for men.”

This follows the news that the NICEIC, who are the regulatory body of the electrical industry, are launching a “Jobs for the Girls” campaign, showing the benefits of a career as an electrician, plumber or builder.

Sexism in the workplace was highlighted by the scandal at Sky Sports, when Andy Gray and Richard Keys made sexist comments about assistant referee Sian Massey and numerous other women.

The “Jobs for the Girls” campaign aims to dispel the myth that trade professions are only a viable option for men.

The research shows that only one in every thousand electrician’s are female. It also showed that women are severely under-represented in most trades.

Paul Collins, from the NICEIC said the campaign wants to remind employers that they cannot discriminate against women, as stated in the Equality Act, which was published by the government in 2010.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys: not part of the NICEIC campaign

Encouraging women to enter the construction industry is one thing, but it could lead to segregation between male and female contractors.

BBC News reported recently that a female-only plumbing company in Northampton has seen a 100% rise in their clientele over the last few months.

Pink Lady Plumbing has flourished as female customers have found to be more comfortable when a woman works in their home instead of a man.

Elecchicks is another prime example of a female-only firm. The London-based electrical firm has been a success and has its own “Look for the lips promise”, which they place on every project to let the customer know that the work has been checked and completed.

But there are fears that a plethora of women-only companies will lead to segregation, where female firms only work in women’s homes, and vice-versa for men.

This should not be encouraged, according to Gary Pratten, an electrician and owner of the My Local Electrician blog. Gary, who lives in Gillingham and has been an electrician for 16 years, believes there is an “old-fashioned” mentality in the industry and would like to see it evolve and more women take up a trade.

“Segregation will eventually lead to alienation. We should think of it as people, not stereotype by gender. If you have the knowledge and have done the work, then you should be treated equally.”

Like this story? Read “14 Fields in Desperate Need of Females” –

The VAT rise: What it means for the construction industry

The dreaded day has arrived. Today is the day that VAT has been increased to 20%, a rise of 2.5%. The government claim it is the “least damaging” way to save money, but other people, particularly in the construction industry, have other ideas.

For the everyday items the VAT increase will not make much difference. For example, something that cost £100 yesterday will now cost you an extra £2.13. The more expensive things though, like furniture, kitchens and boilers, will cost considerably more now with that extra 2.5%.

The VAT rise is expected to severely impact the job market, with the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development claiming that 250,000 jobs will be lost in the UK. The construction industry is also expected to take a hit, with the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) claiming that 11,400 construction jobs over the next decade will be lost.

The FMB believe the VAT rise will make matters worse, in a time where the construction industry has been badly hit by the recession. Train4TradeSkills spoke to the FMB’s Brian Berry back in November, when he was urging the government to reduce VAT in the “Cut the VAT” campaign. Mr Berry said:

“The VAT increase will result in a two per cent decrease in demand for domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) work which will mean 11,400 job losses in construction alone by 2019.

This will seriously affect the recovery of the construction industry, when it comes, as there won’t be enough skilled workers available.”

The reality of the VAT rise is that plumbers, electricians and gas engineers will have to charge more for work, as everything will cost more. This will lead to a decrease in demand as homeowners will either try and do the work themselves or may even opt for rogue traders, according to the FMB, who claim they can “make VAT disappear.”

The government meanwhile, believe the increase in VAT is the best way for the country to dig itself out of the huge hole it is in. Chancellor George Osborne has described it as, “a tough but necessary step towards Britain’s economic recovery.” It’s also permanent, so we will have to get used to it.

What do you think about the VAT rise – is it genuinely something to be worried about or will things just carry on as normal?

Cutting VAT would provide shot in the arm for construction industry



THE Federation of Master Builders has launched the “Cut the VAT” campaign, in a bid to boost the construction industry and reuse empty homes.

The coalition government is set to increase the rate of VAT by 2.5% to 20% in January, but the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) believe cutting the VAT would have a significant impact on the struggling construction industry and “create much needed jobs and apprenticeships for young people.”

The FMB, which is the UK building industry’s largest trade association, believe cutting taxes would be able to improve the growing housing crisis and help bring one million empty properties back into use.

There are currently five million people in Britain on social housing waiting lists and 90,000 people living in temporary accommodation.

The FMB have announced in a statement that, “house building is at its lowest level since 1924 and bringing empty homes back into use is a sensible way to meet housing needs and cutting VAT on domestic maintenance and repairs would make sure that this happens.”

The “Cut the VAT” coalition created by the FMB aims to persuade the government to reduce the amount of VAT on all maintenance and home improvement works, which they believe would give a much-needed boost to the construction industry.

FMB’s Director of External Affairs Brian Berry told Train4TradeSkills that reducing the amount of VAT would have a significant impact on the job market. Mr Berry said the FMB’s research indicated that 24,000 extra construction jobs would have been created this year if the level of VAT was reduced from the 17.5%, which is the present rate, to 5%. This would also create an extra 34,000 jobs by 2019.

If the coalition government refuses to reduce the VAT, Mr Berry believes it would “create a lot of cash in hand jobs”, where customers pay cash to avoid paying VAT. He states that it could lead to a “black market” situation, where cowboy builders would flood the market.