MPs join the campaign to inspire the next generation of engineers
More than 30 MPs have pledged their support for a national campaign to get more young people into engineering, joining government and industry in a united effort to tackle a major skills gap.
The Year of Engineering, which launches in January, will see government work with hundreds of industry partners to raise the profile of engineering among young people aged 7-16, their parents and their teachers. This will include offering at least a million direct experiences of engineering to young people from all backgrounds – from behind the scenes tours and family days out, to school visits and the chance to meet engineering role models.
At an event in Parliament yesterday, Wednesday 6 December, MPs from across the UK committed to supporting the campaign in their constituencies. Pledges included connecting schools with local engineering employers and encouraging businesses to take part in open doors events for schools and families.
Minister for the Year of Engineering and Transport Skills Minister John Hayes said: “If we are going to create a country fit to meet all new challenges, we need to train the next generation of highly-skilled British workers.
“Engineering and all it brings is at the heart of economic success and provides exciting opportunities of fulfilling careers through skills that will shape all our futures, but for too many employers a lack of skilled engineers is limiting growth. That’s why I am delighted to see so many of my colleagues determined to promote engineering. Their determination and dedication, enthusiasm and engagement will help to make the year of engineering not only a year-long campaign but a lifelong success.
“Now, huge opportunities exist as the government’s strategic investment in infrastructure bears fruit. New skills, new jobs and new prospects will turn vision to reality, if we show young people, their parents and their teachers what engineering can mean: a career in engineering offers creativity, variety, the chance to innovate and so make a real difference.”
HM Government Envoy for the Year of Engineering Stephen Metcalfe MP said: “The value of engineering skills is frequently underestimated, outdated perceptions of the profession are still widespread, and the industry continues to suffer from a lack of diversity in its workforce.
“The Year of Engineering aims to tackle these challenges, so it’s vital that the campaign is championed across government, parliament and industry.
“We know how much enthusiasm there is in all parts of the profession to encourage engineers of the future. We want this campaign to unite those ambitions, and I welcome these pledges of support from my fellow MPs which will be vital in helping to drive this across the country.”
The event was jointly hosted by government and the Institution for Engineering and Technology (IET), marking the publication of its annual Skills Survey report – which looks at the skills challenges faced by engineering and technology employers in the UK.
Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive, said: “The IET 2017 Engineering and Technology Skills Survey highlights a buoyant sector with high value jobs being created. In order to deliver on the skills challenge we must ensure we have enough people with the practical and technical skills required by industry, and recruit widely from a diverse pool of potential talent, bringing in all sections of society.
“The cross-government Year of Engineering campaign will be an ideal way of celebrating the amazing contribution that engineering makes to society, and encourage young people to join the profession. The IET is delighted to be supporting the campaign to highlight the exciting, creative and rewarding world of engineering.”
Hundreds of partners have signed up to support the Year of Engineering, including Siemens, the Science Museum Group, Ocado, Usborne, BAE Systems and Crossrail. Teaming up with partners from many different sectors, the government will deliver a year of UK-wide school visits, exhibitions and open doors events – all aimed at encouraging young people and their parents to take a closer look at engineering.
Source: Electrical Engineering
Housing association completes heating upgrade programme
Soha Housing has just completed a comprehensive upgrade programme to improve heating in its least energy-efficient properties.
The Oxfordshire housing association offered 127 homes with a SAP rating of 55 or lower a new heating system: gas, if the supply was available, or more efficient electrical radiators.
The systems installed were the Quantum space heater from Dimplex and Vaillant Eco Tec pure models 612-630 gas boilers.
The average SAP rating across the properties before the works was 47 and the new average has risen to 67.
More than a third of the households upgraded responded to a survey asking them to assess the difference the new heating would make. 57% said they were already enjoying better value for money – £100 a quarter in one case – with Economy 7; others were pleased with the more consistent and controllable warmth. 63% said they no longer needed to supplement their heating with other devices such as a fan heater. Some who were living with gas for the first time were able to identify an improvement in breathing or other chest conditions.
“No more running out of hot water at bath time for my little girls”, commented one tenant, who had gas installed for the first time. Another, whose storage heaters were replaced with, as she described them, ‘much nicer-looking’ electric radiators, appreciated that she could programme them for her return from work.
Source: HVP Magazine
SELECT launches new series of technical videos
SELECT, the campaigning body for the electrotechnical trade in Scotland, has built on the resounding success of its nationwide Toolbox Talks initiative with the launch of a series of technical videos which will be of immediate value to electrical practitioners.
The professionally produced series of technical update films – created by SELECT’s own technical team – begins with a 20-minute presentation on surge protection and its connection to current standards.
With a straightforward, accessible narration, the first video uses a mix of live video, text and diagrams to explain the dangers of surge protection and the measures that can be taken to protect a variety of installations.
The videos can be viewed on a selection of mobile devices, such as phones, tablets and laptops, meaning that they will be instantly available to electrical professionals wherever they are working.
Dave Forrester, head of Technical Services at SELECT, said: “In our Toolbox Talks series, which toured Scotland to great acclaim again this year, we discussed issues of immediate importance to the electrical profession.
“But while the Talks reach audiences of hundreds of interested people, the new video series will allow us to reach out to a far bigger number of professionals at times and places which suit them.”
Surge protection was chosen as the first topic because of the effect it can have on electrical installations. The narrative focused on what can be done to protect sensitive equipment connected to these installations.
It also covered surge protection devices, SPD terminology, British Standards, the selection and erection of SPDs and their future development. The videos can be viewed here.
Mr Forrester said: “Things like IT equipment are particularly susceptible, even to indirect lightning strikes. Even turning equipment on and off can introduce spikes and voltage which can be harmful to sensitive equipment.”
SELECT’s 1250 member companies account for around 90% of all electrical installation work carried out in Scotland. They have a collective turnover of around £1 billion and provide employment for 15,000 people.
Source: Electrical Times
Baxi donates boilers to college
Baxi Heating has donated some of its latest boilers and other heating equipment to help train construction students at Coleg Cambria in north east Wales.
The manufacturer has provided four combi boilers, six heat-only boilers, and a Heatrae Sadia Megaflo unvented cylinder. The donation will give students studying for a Level 1 or 2 diploma in plumbing practical experience of the latest products.
Baxi Heating Training Officer Robert Evans, an ex-student at the college, arranged the donation. He said: “We are delighted to have provided Coleg Cambria with up-to-date equipment and training to ensure the next generation of gas engineers are ready to meet the demands of an ever-changing industry.
“At Baxi we are always striving to meet those demands. It has been a pleasure working with the staff and students in a college which is forward thinking and has many talented students.”
Baxi runs 16 training centres nationwide, including eight based at higher education facilities such as Exeter College, Coleg Gwent in Newport and Leeds College of Building.
Ian Hogg, Coleg Cambria’s Deputy Director of Curriculum for Construction, added: “We are really grateful for the kind donation of boilers and equipment Baxi has made to Coleg Cambria. Baxi has supported the college in the past with previous donations and I know that our students and staff have benefited greatly and that these new additions will be put to excellent use.
“Thanks must go to Robert Evans from Baxi Heating, in particular, who has built a really good relationship with our staff and knows the contribution of up-to-date boilers and systems makes to the excellent training our students get here at Coleg Cambria.”
Source: HVP Magazine
Electricity network operators commit to creating new energy markets to help deliver £17bn smart energy opportunity
A commitment made by electricity network companies on the running of Great Britain’s smart grid could help deliver £17bn back to the economy by 2050, the companies have said.
Electricity network companies operating across England, Scotland and Wales are announcing a joint commitment to “create new markets to enable flexibility services that will compete alongside traditional investment”. Network operators in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are also providing an indication of broad intent to use the services in the future.
The move will help reduce the cost of running the network to customers and provide new opportunities for businesses and communities to offer flexibility services to local network operators. It is published in the “Opening Markets for Network Flexibility” report for the Open Networks Project.
The pan-industry Open Networks Project is a “key initiative” for addressing the changes that need to be made to energy networks to create a more flexible energy system, as recently set out in Ofgem and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan.
Flexibility services include businesses and consumers increasing electricity generation, or choosing to adjust their electricity consumption up or down to support balancing of supply and demand in real time in response to a financial incentive provided to them by an agreement with a network operator. They include:
- Selling power generated by new technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines.
- Businesses adjusting their electricity use at the times of day when they least need it.
- Using new smart energy efficiency technology to adjust consumption remotely and buying electricity from battery storage.
Research conducted by Imperial College London and The Carbon Trust for the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan shows that the UK could deliver £17-40bn of benefits across the energy system by 2050. A smarter, more flexible energy system, with the use of flexibility markets, will deliver these benefits.
The report also states that network companies will also “rapidly increase the use of competitive markets” over the next 6 years, under the current RIIO ED1 price control period.
The roles and responsibilities of network companies are changing as they respond to the deployment of new types of smart and renewable energy technology connected at a local rather than a national level. These changes mean that Distribution Network Operators are moving from their traditional role of simply distributing electricity to playing a more active role managing supply and demand locally.
At the same time the role of National Grid as System Operator is also changing to facilitate the transition to a more decentralised, low carbon system. The Open Networks Project will describe the new roles and responsibilities required to support the transition to a smarter, more efficient electricity network.
David Smith, CEO of Energy Networks Association, comments: “Our energy networks have a great track record of delivering for households, businesses and communities when it comes to network reliability, reducing costs to the bill payer and driving forward new investment in our infrastructure.
“Today’s announcement builds on that, as our energy market rapidly changes. It is about creating a system that creates a platform for a whole range of new energy technologies and services that not only allows network companies to manage the system more effectively but give other organisations the chance to benefit from that, whether that be directly or indirectly.”
Richard Harrington MP, Minister for Energy & Industry, said: “Upgrading our energy system to make sure it is fit for the future is a key part of our Industrial Strategy and the Smart Systems Plan published in July sets out what we will do to make that happen.
“A smarter, more flexible energy system will create opportunities to reduce energy costs, increase productivity and put UK businesses in a leading position to export smart energy technology and services to the rest of the world.”
Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive of Ofgem, said: “We welcome today’s commitment by network companies to create new markets for flexibility services following the joint publication of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan by Ofgem and the Government in July.
“Flexibility is key to the transition to a smarter energy system which saves consumers money on their energy bills. We will work with the energy industry, Government and consumer groups to make sure that these new services are delivered in whatever way works best for consumers.”
Source: Electrical Times
Construction start date for £350m Tower Hamlets site
Construction is set to start next year on a £350m scheme to regenerate one of the last remaining brownfield sites in Tower Hamlets, East London.
The timetable was unveiled as the London Borough of Tower Hamlets granted the green light to plans from a consortium led by Galliard Homes and Lindhill.
The Ailsa Wharf site will contain 785-homes as part of a mixed use regeneration scheme designed by architecture practice Stockwool.
Work will transform a heavily contaminated 2.5ha tract of land next to the River Lea which has laid barren and unused for many years.
The approved proposals will create a mixed-use hub of high quality housing and 3,000m2 commercial space in 13 buildings varying between 3 and 17 storeys set within significant areas of new public realm.
The development has the potential to kickstart wider regeneration in Poplar Riverside, particularly the sites to the south such as Iron Mountain and the Nairn Street Estate.
Construction is due to start in 2018 with first completions due in 2021.
Source: Construction Enquirer
Tradespeople spend the most on Secret Santa gifts, says Wonga
Tradespeople spend the most on Secret Santa presents for their colleagues, according to research from Wonga.
Wonga reports that 21% of tradespeople spend between £21 and £25 on a Secret Santa gift, compared to the national average of £13.
The professions that spend the most on Secret Santa gifts on average are:
- Plumber, builder or electrician – £18
- Designer or artist – £16
- IT – £16.
The thriftiest professions, by the percentage of people who spend £5 or less on a gift, are:
- Teacher – 21.1%
- Sales – 12.5%
- Retail – 11.4%.
Plumbers, builders and electricians also spend the most overall on seasonal workplace festivities, with 19% spending £76 to £100 on everything including Christmas parties, lunches, decorations, gifts and treats.
Geographically, people in Edinburgh are the most festive, with 90% buying a colleague a Secret Santa gift and attending at least one party. Workers in Southampton are the biggest party poopers, with just 51% taking part in Secret Santa and only 64% going to a party, according to the research.
Source: HVP Magazine
UK Tradespeople struggle to recruit due to a lack of focus on training
More than half of tradespeople (57%) struggle to find skilled labour – 37% think apprenticeships are not respected as much as university and 31% believe school leavers are put off by a poor perception of trade careers
The UK’s electricians, plumbers, builders, carpenters and other trades are optimistic about the future, with 82% expecting business activity to remain at the same level or grow over the next 12 months, additionally, nearly half (45%) report being busier than last year.
However, research conducted by trade retailer, Electricfix’s umbrella organisation, Screwfix, has revealed the majority (57%) are reporting difficulties in recruiting staff to support them. This is primarily due to:
- a lack of focus on encouraging new people to train in the trades.
- not enough local skilled tradespeople.
- too much red tape.
‘For those who struggle to recruit skilled employees, more than one third (37%) believe it is because apprenticeships are not given the same level of respect as a university education. Furthermore, 31% say poor public perception of a career in the trade means school leavers are not interested in pursuing a future in construction.’
The research, conducted as part of Screwfix Trade Pulse*, a monthly index of more than 500 UK tradespeople, also revealed strong work levels across the trade at the moment, as nearly one fifth (18%) of tradespeople has more work than they can handle and 40% are quoting for more jobs than 12 months ago.
Nearly all (94%) tradespeople said they would recommend a career in the trade and of the reasons why, 85% say they have a strong sense of achievement when a job is done and, 80% enjoy seeing the results of their hard work.
More than half (57%) of those surveyed said they started as apprentices and, when it comes to increasing the numbers undertaking trade apprenticeships, more than one third (35%) believe greater focus is needed on vocational education in schools. More than one quarter (26%) believe improved awareness about the opportunities offered by a career in the trade would drive greater uptake of apprenticeships, with 19% saying that reducing red tape for employers looking to hire an apprentice should be considered.
The research also looked at views around those entering construction at a later stage in their careers. The significant majority (82%) of tradespeople think more could be done to attract people to the trade further into their working lives. More than two thirds (69%) think increasing awareness of the opportunities available would help attract people into the trade and 61% believe greater knowledge of the support available to retrain is also crucial.
Graham Bell, CEO of Electricfix and Screwfix, comments: “When we speak to tradespeople across our 546 stores, they reflect what these findings show us. Tradespeople tell us they have full work diaries but, many struggle to recruit skilled employees when looking to support their growing business so, it is clear that focused efforts are needed to drive recruitment and training into the trades.
“There is much focus on a reported construction skills challenge with various reasons given including loss of talent during the downturn and a lack of new entrants joining the trade. That’s why, now more than ever, all parties including government, suppliers and education providers should work together.
“It was encouraging to see the investment pledged into improving construction skills by the government in the recent Budget but, collectively, we also need to demonstrate why construction is such a great sector to work in and, help those who may be interested in embarking on a career in the trade to overcome barriers they may face.
“We also need to support tradespeople who want to take on apprentices or hire skilled labour to support their business at a time of much opportunity.”
Screwfix supports the trade however it can, so alongside practical support such as opening a store at the rate of one per week, to bring Screwfix even closer, it offers ‘Your Guide to Hiring an Apprentice’, a free, bitesize guide available in stores for those tradespeople who may be looking to take on an apprentice.
To further shine a light on those hardworking new entrants to the trade, it also holds an annual Trade Apprentice competition where a £10,000 business start-up kit is up for grabs. Both this award and its Britain’s Top Tradesperson nationwide search showcase what a great career option the trade offers, whether you start out as an apprentice or retrain later in your working life.
In addition, to support skills growth in the construction trade, Screwfix has recently started to work with colleges directly, partnering locally first with Yeovil College. It has invested in the Screwfix Trade Skills Centre, a new purpose-built site for students studying the pilot Screwfix Trade Academy course, which covers bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry and electrical contracting. The first recruits started in September 2017.
Screwfix is also looking at other ways it can support the trade and will be launching further initiatives in the future.
Click the link to see the full EF Trade pulse infographic.
Source: Electrical Times
Gas Safe Register releases its Decade Review
Review report, which covers opinion on key topics, the current state of the industry and what the future has in store.
Key findings include an agreement among many of the respondents that the last decade has been characterised by improvements in safety and technological advances. However, there is also concern that the industry is becoming fragmented and that training standards are not adequate.
Jonathan Samuel, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, said: “Gas Safe Register commissioned the Decade Review to give a voice to the entire industry, from the many sole traders to the training bodies and manufacturers to the big energy companies. It gave each specialist sector in the industry the opportunity to reflect on their experience and share their often strongly held views and perspectives.
“The UK’s gas industry has seen many changes over the past decade: more registered engineers, tougher penalties for health and safety offences, new technologies, and innovation are all helping to keep the public safe and warm. But what does the industry believe it needs and wants now? The Decade Review sets out to answer these and many more questions.”
Nearly 3,000 people took part in the research that the Decade Review is built from, including consumers and stakeholders, with the majority of respondents (95%) being made up of Gas Safe-registered engineers.
Gas Safe Register enlisted an independent research agency to host multiple focus groups, share an online survey for completion, carry out in-depth telephone interviews, and then analyse the findings and feedback.
You can download a copy of the Decade Review here: www.gassaferegister.co.uk/decade-review.
Source: HVP Magazine
UK online sales of electrical products worth £1.3bn, says report
In 2017, the market for online distribution of electrical products was estimated to be worth £1.3 billion, having grown by almost 300% on 2012, according to a new report recently published by AMA Research.
This can be compared to growth of 20% within the overall electrical products market over the same period. Online sales are now estimated to account for around 8% of the overall electrical products distribution market, says the report.
This significant growth can be attributed to the fact that leading wholesalers, as well as both trade and DIY distributors, have expanded their internet presence in recent years, launching transactional websites and starting to move towards ‘omni-channel’ services.
The increasing use of click and collect has also made a significant difference to the way contractors purchase, allowing them to combine the convenience of on-site ordering with convenient collection options.
The report states that the largest distribution channels with regards to sales of electrical products are direct from manufacturers and via electrical wholesalers, while merchants and other trade distributors, such as HVAC specialists, are also significant in this market. In terms of online sales, the most significant distributors of online sales are ‘internet only’ distributors, with around 42% of the market.
In general, the distribution market for electrical products is starting to move towards ‘omni-channel’ distribution, whereby customers can access information, goods and services via multiple platforms and channels within one transaction, with a focus on the overall customer experience.
The full report – The Electrical Products Distribution Market Report, Online Focus, UK 2017-2021 Analysis – is published by AMA Research, and is available online.
Source: Electrical Contracting News
Fire Angel launches ‘Check the Date’ campaign
Fire alarm manufacturer, Fire Angel, has launched a ‘Check the Date’ campaign to encourage homes throughout the UK to check their smoke alarms every year.
Smoke alarm sensors will degrade over time, leading to a reduced sensitivity in detecting heat or smoke. As a result, fire alarms need to be replaced every ten years.
Jess Pennington, campaign manager for Fire Angel, said: “The Check the Date campaign aims to make people aware of the importance of fire safety in the home, especially in the run up to Christmas when candles and decorative lights become more prevalent in the home.
“Unfortunately, a majority of burns incidents occur in the home, but the risk of a fire incident can be dramatically reduced by regularly checking and replacing a fire alarm. In order for a smoke alarm to be certified to European safety standards, they need to have a replace by date on the alarm.”
The launch coincides with the launch of a charity single, ‘Never Be Alone’ written and produced by Andy Lawrence Flynn, 32, and Dan Hodges, 34, to remind people that the smoke alarm is a guardian angel of the home.
“All funds from the single will go to the Children’s Burns Trust and we hope that the money raised will allow them to continue supporting victims of fire,” added Jess.
Alison Tweddle, of The Children’s Burns Trust, said: “The success of our charity is dependent on the kind donations of people to ensure that we can offer burns survivors both rehabilitation and financial support, as well as helping us to raise awareness of the important messages around prevention and good first aid”.
The single costs £0.99 and is available to download now from Spotify and iTunes and all proceeds will go to the charity.
Just nine ‘fire-risk’ social housing blocks being reclad
Retrofit cladding work has so far got underway on just nine high-rise social housing blocks around the country to replace combustible cladding.
According to new Government statistics mapping the extent of remedial works just one social housing block has been completed six months after the Grenfell disaster.
The new data, which will now be published monthly to track progress on the vast backlog of retrofits, confirms that 162 social housing buildings are fitted with combinations of aluminium composite material cladding and insulation judged to have failed the large-scale tests, as of 10 November.
While combustible cladding has been removed on just over a third of these high-rises, progress remain slow on funding and starting the recladding work.
Cladding has been removed on 57 of these buildings over 18m in height. Of these, 26 buildings have had all cladding removed.
Work has started on nine blocks to install replacement cladding and one building has finished the installation of replacement cladding.
The Government also confirmed the full scale of the retrofit facing clients and the industry. Including private residential and student homes, a total of 284 have combinations of ACM and insulation of the types that failed the large-scale tests and are therefore unlikely to meet current Building Regulations guidance.
No figures are published for progress on private homes or student residences, but several schemes are known to be in planning or underway.
On the latest reckoning there are 63 local authorities in England with at least one such building within their boundaries. London Boroughs of Brent, Tower Hamlets and Westminster, as well as Manchester and Salford, all have 11 or more buildings with a cladding system that failed the large-scale tests.
Source: Construction Enquirer