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Train4TradeSkills fulfilment partner, ATL participates in Cultural Exchange Programme with environmentally friendly agenda on focus

Imagine a house build without any heating but which has the capability to retains the heat and maintain constant temperature from 18 to 21 degrees regardless of the weather conditions. 

You might think this sounds too good to be true. However, a group of students from Train4TradeSkills’ fulfilment partner, Apprenticeship Training Limited (ATL) has not only proven this is possible, but also have learnt the practical details behind what looks like the future of the building industry.

Trade students from England gained a first-hand experience in building energy efficient houses, a feature of modern times combined with innovation in the building sector. Students spent two weeks in the Belgium town of Heusden-Zolder where they built a mock passive house with environmentally friendly materials. As students found for themselves, the secret of a successful passive house is in good insulation and triple-glazed windows, things which quite often get ignored in Britain.

Statistically, England is far behind its European counterparts in terms of building energy efficient houses. The reasons for this vary from environmental awareness to high cost and not so popular implementation of the projects.  However, countries like Belgium, Germany and Austria are investing heavily in this new venture. So far, around 20, 000 low energy houses have been built in Europe of which approximately 17.000 in Germany and Austria alone.

Teaching Co-ordinator Sara Learoyd from ATL, who accompanied students from various disciplines in the Passive House, described the project as ‘an eye opener’ for all the participants.

Sara said: “We need to look at the advantages of using environmentally friendly materials to build our houses  and the benefits they have on the environment; that is what we need to be working towards and this projects illustrates just that.”

“Solar panels are only coming in little margins in Britain in comparison with how it is in Belgium. For example, everybody has a solar panel in Belgium.” – added Sara.

Trade student from Reading Jake Ford, aged 21, took part in the programme with life-changing agenda. Jake thinks Britain should do more to help the building of environmentally houses by encouraging  people to adopt a more efficient approach in building their homes.

Jake said: “I really enjoyed the work placement when we was split into groups and had to fit installation. It has proven how far we are behind in England and how much there is to learn about the construction of passive housing.”

What is your opinion on building more passive houses in Britain? Do you think the government is doing enough to help you save money on energy bills? Share your thoughts with us below: 


NICEIC and ECA join forces to debate future for electricians

The NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) have worked together to produce 2021 Vision: The Future of the Electrical Contracting Industry.

This major piece of research is designed to provide a long term vision of the position the industry is likely to be in 10 years from now. It is also the first tangible results of talks to see how the two organisations can work together to provide unity and leadership for the industry.

Emma McCarthy, CEO of the NICEIC and Steve Bratt, CEO of the ECA made the decision to jointly fund 2021 Vision as they felt it was important to provide long term guidance for the industry at a time when many contractors are recovering from the recession and concentrating on short term survival. 2021 Vision enables the electrical contractor to see past the short term and prepare for the next stage of their development.

A survey of 1,000 members of the ECA and registrants to the NICEIC forms the basis of the research. The survey found that there are many perceived threats to the industry but also many opportunities.

The research findings are inextricably linked to the UK’s sustainable future. As the UK strives to achieve ambitious targets for carbon reduction, the electrical industry finds itself in a leading position to take advantage of the opportunities that the drive for carbon reduction brings. Those contractors who are willing to develop and learn new skills will grow and thrive.

The key opportunities set out in 2021 Vision are:

• The Green Deal leading to 500,000 homes a year being upgraded – 96% see this as an opportunity

• SMART meters in every home – 95% see this as an opportunity

• More apprenticeships – 95% see this as an opportunity

• Development of new products to enable sustainable new build and renovation of existing properties – 96% see this as an opportunity

• More training for small businesses in new technology and skills – 97% see this as an opportunity

The drive for sustainability in all areas of UK life will change the shape of the wider construction industry as well as the electrical contracting industry. The shift away from new build to refurbishment and renovation, the use of more sophisticated, integrated systems and the need, which has been recognised by the Government, for training to ensure that trades have the skills to help the UK work towards the sustainable vision.

2021 Vision also identifies a range of threats to the electrical contracting industry; these must be tackled head on by the industry as a whole. The biggest threats as seen by the contractors surveyed are:

• Lower skilled workforce doing work currently done by tradespersons – 98% see this as a threat

• More components in new build manufactured off-site, reducing amount of skilled craftsmen on site – 79% see this as a threat

• More competitive industry – 61% see this as a threat

• Cross-over of trades requiring multi-skilling – 60% see this as a threat

• Changing Government policy – 51% see this as a threat

Emma McCarthy, CEO of the NICEIC concludes;

“2021 Vision is a unique and interesting view of what our industry will look like in 10 years time, funded and facilitated by NICEIC and ECA and entirely for the benefit of the electrical contractor. The challenge now is to take this information and apply it to day to day working life – we look forward to helping electrical contractors do this.”

[Source: ECA Website – ]

What do you think of this news? Are you an electrician/training to be an electrician – what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

Train4TradeSkills Weekend Catch Up: 27 June-3 July

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) Apprentice choose plumbing over football and the SPL

MONDAY: Most men dream of playing professional football. But a Scottish striker has turned down the opportunity to join an SPL side and will stay semi-pro so he can finish his plumbing apprenticeship. That’s dedication to the trade for you! READ MORE>>>

2) UK and China sign new trade deal

TUESDAY: The UK has signed a new £1.4 billion trade deal with China, which could lead more opportunities for UK contractors in the country. China is in the middle of a huge construction boom and if UK workers could get involved it would be a great boost for the UK construction industry. READ MORE>>>

3) Lee’s Interview from Train4TradeSkills Radio

FRIDAY: An excellent interview from T4TS Radio this week, starring trainee sparky Lee. We talk about practical training, studying tips, working as an electricians mate and Lee’s business plans. We also have interviews with trainee plumber’s Danny and Russell this week. READ MORE>>>

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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