Archive for the ‘practical training’ Tag

Daily Mirror Boost for ATL as Prof Trades Up to Success   Leave a comment

“The Man who Swapped Science for Plumbing”

A redundant scientist  is earning ‘top’ money in the plumbing industry after taking a training course with  top trades’ school  ATL, the Daily Mirror has revealed.  

Leading trade skills provider ATL made news across the country today after laboratory scientist Steve Banks hung up his test tubes and went looking for a way to turn his life round.

And Steve, aged 43, who has two sons, Mathew and Daniel, as well as a three-year old girl Ruby and lives with his wife, Naomi, said he wished he had taken the plunge years ago.

Steve told the Daily Mirror: “I started looking around for courses I could do in my own time while carrying on working and asking people for recommendations and found that ATL had a very good reputation.”

When Steve was made redundant in 2009, he had almost completed his plumbing course and was about to set up his own business… Now he earns about £45,000 a year, much more than in his previous job.

Steve said: “It was great really, I got so much confidence from the course that my business grew through word of mouth.”

Altogether, Steve from Letchworth, Herts, spent about £6,500 from his redundancy money on his training. “This was a lifetime investment for me and it is paying off.”

Steve says that he is a very practical person who always enjoys doing things with his hands. He used to help his father who was working in the building trades before he retired.

Like every new thing, Steve admits that his business was slow to start with, but soon people began to ring him, saying that a friend had recommended his services. Now he is thinking of employing extra people to help him.

New Leak Testing System to Save Plumbers Money and Time   Leave a comment

A new leak detection system which will enable plumbers to accurately identify damaged water pipes has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield.

The ground-breaking invention in the plumbing industry is set to significantly improve leak detection, reduce wasted water supply and help plumbers save both, time and money in carrying out repairs.

The new pipes testing system works by transmitting pressure waves along them and sends back a signal if it passes any leaks or cracks in the pipes’ surface. The strength of that signal can then be analysed to determine the location and the size of the leak.

According to the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT) as much as 40 per cent of water supply is being lost through leaky pipes each year. The invention has been developed in partnership with the University’s Department of Civil Structural Engineering (DCSE) and Yorkshire Water

The device has now been trialled at Yorkshire Water’s field operators training site in Bradford and results show that it offers a reliable and accurate method of leak testing. Leaks in cast iron pipes were located accurately to within one metre, while leaks in plastic pipes were located even more precisely, to within 20cm, the University said in a statement today.

Commenting on the invention, Dr James Shucksmith, who led the trial at the DCSE, said: “We are very excited by the results we’ve achieved so far: we are able to identify the location of leaks much more accurately and rapidly than existing systems are able to, meaning water companies will be able to save both time and money in carrying out repairs.”

Dr Shucksmith explained that the system has already delivered very promising results at Yorkshire Water and that they look forward to find an industrial partner to develop the device to the point where it can be manufactured commercially.

What is your reaction to the leak detention system that will help plumbers identify pipe leaks quicker and more accurately? Share your thoughts about the environmental effects of the new invention by commenting here or raising your voice on our Facebookpage.

State-Of-The-Art Building Engineering College Opens in Southampton   1 comment

A new half a million vocational training college has opened in Southampton. The former secondary school on Burgoyne Road, in Thornhill, is the first dedicated building skills college for those wanting to go into the building services engineering industry.  The centre is run by training specialist Apprenticeship Training Limited (ATL) and covers courses from plumbing to nuclear site services. 

Managing director of ATL, Nick Hayward, joined Steve Harris from BBC Radio Solent to explain more about the training opportunities available to those who want to pursue a successful career in the trades.

Nick, can you tell us more about apprenticeships…Youth unemployment is at a record high, do you think that apprenticeships can help to tackle this at all?

I certainly do. Obviously, apprentices need the support of local employers to give young people work opportunities, but in terms of learning a trade and skills; and potentially having a career for life, I really don’t think that there is any substitute for apprenticeships. Apprentices are employed from the first day of their training, or certainly within the first six months, and they earn whilst they learn; they learn the trade literally doing the job.

Is there not an argument that there is a limited number of jobs out there and if the housing market is in a bit of stasis at the moment that learning these skills might prove fruitless in a couple of years once people complete their apprenticeship?

I think that there is always a danger because markets are susceptible to certain economic conditions one ways or the other. However, the good news in the building services engineering sector is that there are still significant skill shortages in the UK and with higher than average age workforce, the opportunities going forward are very good because people are retiring all the time. You have also got the introduction of new technologies such as the renewable energy sector coming in which will require plumbers, electricians and gas engineers to install them and get involved.

How are you delivering these vocational subjects to students in college, how do people tend to learn? They can’t be sat at desks looking at a whiteboard…can they?

No, there is a combination of the underpinning knowledge, the theory side to any skill trade, but a lot of it is directly hands on in workshops. Getting them with the tools in their hands and the equipment they will be working with, and then under the guide and the tuition of experienced engineers apprentices learn by them, passing on all those skills. We compliment that with E-learning and we are about to introduce virtual reality training so that they take these skills into the virtual world. We have developed a universal programme which replicates pretty much any tool which is used in the trades; they are able to learn the skills in a virtual environment which, off course, for young people is particularly useful because there is no peer pressure; you can get it wrong as many times as you like and it is great for sustainability because you are not wasting scarce natural resources.

Is it true that you are going to get 5,000 students through in the first year? That’s a remarkable number…

We have 5 centres across the UK and this one in Southampton is the latest venture. We have relocated it and the new centre is much larger. We have a good combination of young people, existing trade professionals and also adult career changers. Everybody deserves the opportunity to learn a trade if they want to do so. It’s pretty much the same thing no matter how old you are. And yes, we do have that many students passing through our centres every year across all the trades we offer.

Nick, by the sound of it I should come down and have a look at this virtual reality programme, it sounds fun.

I would be delighted to invite you sometime, Steve!

Builders in London to Get More Housing Repairs Work   Leave a comment

North London’s Camden Council has announced it will open half of its housing repair and maintenance work for external contractors, Construction Enquirer reported today.

The decision of Camden Council to expand its list of maintenance and repair contractors will offer more opportunities to existing and new professionals in the building sector. The repair framework of Camden Council is expected to be worth around £14 million each year, meaning a significant incentive for a variety of firms in the building sector.

The Council’s current in-house contractor, DLO, has been working for sustainable development across some of its 33,000 housing stock; the additionally appointed contractor would work alongside council’s existing contractor which will carry out a separate £11m programme of housing work.

Camden Council will expect both, its current and newly joining contractors, to be working together in order to improve working systems and optimise existing procedures. The Council’s new maintenance contract will start in January 2013 initially for 5 years with the potential of the scheme to be extended by another 5 years.

Do you welcome the decision of Camden Council to put half of its housing repairs for an external contractor? What are your expectations of finding employment following Council’s decision? Share your thoughts by commenting here:  

Electrical tutor Wayne Thomson talks about electrical training in ATL Centre, Part 2   Leave a comment

Wayne Thomson is an electrical tutor at the ATL centre in Worcestershire. Train4TradeSkills Radio spoke to Wayne to find out what students make of his training and how they are going to use it to develop their career.

Listen to Wayne’s Interview from via AudioBoo at:   

View this document on Scribd


Electrical tutor Wayne Thomson talks about electrical training in ATL Centre   Leave a comment

Wayne Thomson is an electrical tutor at the ATL centre in Worcestershire. Train4TradeSkills Radio spoke to Wayne to find out what students make of his training and how they are going to use it to develop their career.

Listen to Wayne’s Interview via AudioBoo at: 

View this document on Scribd

Apprenticeships Are Becoming a More Popular Choice than Going to University   Leave a comment

The university application body, UCAS, has announced a decrease of almost 9% in the number of students’ applying to universities in the UK. At the same time, the government has revealed statistics showing that some 457,200 apprenticeships were delivered for 2010/11 academic year which represents an increase of more than 60% from the previous year.

With tuition fees rising to up to £9,000 per year from 2012 and a record rate of youth unemployment, young people across Britain are considering apprenticeship schemes as a more stable way of developing their career.

With increased funding from the government, the number of people age between 16-21 years old who are starting apprenticeships is expected to rise even further from next year.

Apprenticeship Training Limited (ATL) is a leading national training provider in the Building Services Engineering sector with an established network of centres across the UK, including a centre in Worcestershire.

Its Hartlebury based centre, which was recently visited by BBC Hereford and Worcester, provides hundreds of apprenticeships to people of all ages across Worcestershire and West Midlands region.

BBC Hereford and Worcester reported that apprentices are given the opportunity to earn as well as learn, whilst they are gaining practical experience from the workplace.

Paul Barnes, who is 18-years old and from Bromsgrove, said to BBC Hereford and Worcester that he is convinced to have made the right decision by taking on an apprenticeship.

Paul, who completed his GCSEs with two A and three B grades, did not choose to go to university because of the huge debt he would have to pay back after graduating.

“I didn’t want to go to university because the fees are very expensive plus I would have had to spend two years at college doing A levels. So, I am skipping that and I am getting paid for the time I would have been doing A levels at college.”- the ambitious apprentice said.

Paul added: “I might even come out of this with some savings, rather than coming out of with the debt of around £40,000.”

The Government is determined to deepen its funding programme in order to deal with high levels of unemployment and get more people back into work.

In July, it set up a £25m fund to support 10,000 additional apprenticeships for small businesses and similar sectors with skills shortage.

Do you think the increase of tuition fees is the main reason for fewer student applications at universities or are there other reasons why people decide not to go to university?  If you are a young person, tell us what would you choose and why by commenting below: 

The Internet Could Help Plumbers to Gain More Customers   Leave a comment

Digital marketing provider “Yell” has urged plumbers across the UK to use the Internet to boost their business and gain more customers.

The announcement comes after statistics from Google show that there are 823,000 searches for the keyword ‘plumbers’ in the UK every month, meaning more people needing a plumber are looking online to find one.

New infographic (refer to the picture) has been released today showing how plumbers can best use the Internet as an opportunity to boost their business. It highlights the regular demand for plumbers with many Google searches being location-specific, for example, there were 40,500 queries each month for ‘London plumbers’ alone.

According to the infographic, 58% of all purchase decisions now begin a search through a search engine on the Internet. This suggests the Internet is becoming one of the main search tools for anyone looking for a product or service. Therefore, it is important for plumbers to have online presence on the Internet and make themselves known to the customers.

However, Yell admits that many plumbers feel that the best way to market themselves is by word of mouth and personal recommendation; which remains one of the most reliable ways for plumbers to gain more customers.
Some of the main online channels which plumbers can use to promote themselves include e-mail, online advertising and creating their own website to turn search queries into real customers. Yell also suggest that UK plumbers who do not have a website could be missing out on customers.

Do you think the Internet can help you to boost your business and gain more customers? Tell us how by commenting here:   

Building Sector is Booming as Unemployment Goes Up   Leave a comment

As reported on Train4TradeSkills blog this week, Premier Inn, the England’s biggest budget hotel chain, has announced further investments for the building industry as it paves the way for more hotels to be built across the UK.

In addition to the £5.9 million investment in Camborne announced yesterday, Premier Inn brings £4.1 million investment to Coventry, as it opens a new hotel later this month.

With low availability of affordable hotel places in some parts of the UK and pressure to reduce costs, more smaller hotels are being built – especially such offering affordable prices to customers. Premier Inn has invested millions of pounds across the country in building and renovating new hotels across the UK. Recent developments include hotels in Worcestershire, Barry, Dartford and Camborne.

Although UK unemployment rose by 118,000, in the past three months since November, the building sector doesn’t seem to be affected due to the governments’ extensive investment to create thousands of jobs in the building construction sector.

The Prime Minister announced in the Commons today that whilst unemployment is rising, there is an increase in the number of people working; another 18, 000 people are in work.

“We need more private sector employment and we need to move further and faster on that agenda.” – Mr Cameron said.

Chris Grayling, the Work and Pensions Minister said in a BBC interview this morning that the recent figures on unemployment are more complex than they first appear.

Mr Grayling said that the government has lots of work to do in regards to improving employment opportunities and getting more people back to work. He said: “The private sector is creating jobs faster than the changes in the public sector.”

Mr Grayling said that there were more to the statistics than what first met the eye, but he admitted unemployment level was much too high.


If you are in the building sector, do you feel safer with your job than people in other industries? Tell us why? Do you think that enough is being done to tackle the unemployment? 


PMST offers first look at ATL Centre   Leave a comment

Plumbing and Heating magazine visits ATL


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