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Archive for January, 2011

Construction firms cut back on training

January 31st, 2011 Comments off
Construction Apprentices

Construction Training

Nearly a fifth of construction companies in the UK plan to scale back training this year, new research has shown.

More than a quarter of businesses in the sector also cut their training last year in response to the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, a survey of 1,500 employers by CITB-ConstructionSkills found, published yesterday.

The study will deal a fresh blow to the Government’s push for employers to offer more apprenticeship schemes in the UK. The Department for Business has said it is looking to private sector employers to offer more vocational training to create jobs and tackle the nation’s skills shortages.

However, the survey found many businesses still see training as a low priority. Training relating to the job itself was shown to be the hardest hit, with 16pc of all employers cutting back. Management and supervisory training suffered, while courses on health and safety reduced, the survey said.

Mark Farrar, chief executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “As a cost cutting measure in times of economic hardship, training budgets are sadly often the first to suffer. Although recognition of the importance of staff skills is high, the research shows that training levels could fall further still.”

About 39pc of companies in the West Midlands reduced the training on offer to staff, with the North West (37pc) and Scotland (35pc) following closely behind, the survey showed.

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Construction Workloads Enter Fourth Year of Decline warns FMB

January 28th, 2011 Comments off

fmb2Recent reports say that the Small to Medium-sized Enterprise construction sector is to set to begin a fourth year of falling workloads and a third of companies are expecting to cut their staffing levels this year, according to the latest State of Trade Survey  from the FMB, the largest trade association in the UK construction industry.

Richard Diment, FMB Director-General said:

“The construction sector has still not reached the bottom of the most savage recession for the industry in living memory. Cuts in government expenditure are making matters worse with more than half of building companies reporting falling levels of work in public repair and maintenance work. Our survey shows a sharp increase in those expecting workloads to contract once again in the first quarter of 2011.”

and continued:

“The Government is pinning its hopes of economic recovery on the creation of new jobs in the private sector but its policies are having exactly the opposite effect in the building sector. The increase in the rate of VAT earlier this month will cost the construction sector nearly 7,500 jobs this year alone. Cuts in public sector spending on social housing are having a particularly adverse impact with nearly half of building companies reporting that work in this sector had fallen.

and in conclusion,

“The construction sector has the potential to build Britain out of recession and we know that for every £1 spent on construction output generates a total of £2.84 in total economic activity. If this could be coupled with expenditure on infrastructure projects as well as tackling the growing housing crisis the Government would be building the real foundations for a sustained economic recovery.”

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Industry acts to improve data on mobile apps

January 26th, 2011 Comments off

iphone_inhandhome_cUnilever, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have warned that the increase in bad data being made available through mobile applications is damaging their brands.

The growth of mobile apps and mobile web has given consumers access to more data about products than ever before, however, there is no standardised system to make sure the data being used by third party applications is correct.

The brands were speaking at an event hosted by not-for-profit data standards organisation GS1 UK to launch its TrueSource data platform.

GS1 UK says that the data available about brands on third party apps is wrong one in five times and only 9% of products have the correct descriptions, according to its Mobile-Savvy Shopper study.

Andy Houghton Unilever UK e-commerce director says the proliferation of bad data is damaging to its brands.

He adds: “Unilever is retailer and app agnostic, but we spend money on building our brands so if the consumer has access to poor quality information about our products they can’t make an informed choice so it’s vital that the data available is right.

“If consumers cannot trust the data a third part app uses, they wont trust the app or the product and that’s a lost sale and damaging to the brand.”

Tesco.com IT director Richard Copperthwaite and Sainsbury’s chief technology officer Julian Burnett agree that the rapid growth of mobile has accelerated the need for the industry to act and take responsibility for educating consumers on the availability of poor data.

Burnett says standardising accurate data is “about out creating certainty for our customers”.

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Sitemaster EPC

January 25th, 2011 Comments off

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) were introduced to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Accredited energy assessors produce EPCs alongside an associated report which suggests improvements to make a building more energy efficient.

Now EPC Surveyors have a fantastic new tool at their disposal to help speed up the whole process.

SiteMaster EPC (BRAND NEW!)

Sitemaster EPC

Sitemaster EPC

Sitemaster EPC is a leap forward in the commercial EPC process, developed by the German software manufacturer Graeberts who are responsible for the unique and award winning Sitemaster Building mobile CAD surveying solution.

Sitemaster EPC software is a leap forward in the commercial EPC process, developed by the German software manufacturer Graeberts who are responsible for the unique and award winning Sitemaster Building mobile CAD surveying solution.

Sitemaster EPC must be considered by all non- domestic energy assessors who wish to stay competitive in their field.

Sitemaster EPC uses sitemaster as its framework in producing the floor plans required for an EPC, but then prompts the assessor to enter further details required for an EPC. Sitemaster EPC is fully integrated with IsBEM and automatically enters the data from the site plan to produce an EPC on site! (where a network connection is available)

Assessors use a tablet PC and a blue tooth enabled laser measure (supplied on purchase) to plot the building directly into the software. Minimal equipment helps ease of surveying with no need for paper and pencil, data is stored easily, can be adapted easily and forwarded on to be audited easily.

Sitemaster EPC not only reduces an assessor’s workload it also presents additional revenue streams from the same process, requiring little or no extra work. The highly accurate CAD plans produced whilst creating the EPC can be sold on to be used as:

•   Floor plans for sales purposes
•   Fire safety plans
•   Lease plans
•   Architectural plans (although higher degrees of accuracy will have to be obtained)

To see more of what Sitemaster EPC does and the benefits gained, click here

Mobile CAD Surveying was instrumental in the development of Sitemaster EPC, we can offer further details on the system, your further equipment specifications and the financial options available to obtain Sitemaster EPC. We also provide training to the use the system which is a must to gain optimal performance.

We know first hand the labour intensive process of producing a NDEPC and felt an easier approach was needed to make us more profitable, so we helped develop Sitemaster EPC.

If you have any questions or would like to talk further please email us

•   For more information on Workshop/Training dates and locations please contact us
•   To order SiteMaster EPC or arrange training please contact us

or visit: Mobile CAD Surveying

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Trainees urged to put building skills to the test

January 25th, 2011 1 comment

citbTrainees men and women of all trades have until January 31 to enter the country’s largest multi-trade competition – SkillBuild2011.

Basingstoke construction trainees from a wide range of craft skills, including dry walling, roofing, stonemasonry and floor tiling, are being encouraged to enter the competition run by CITB-ConstructionSkills.

Budding trainees will be put through their paces in their chosen trade at one of 14 regional heats taking place between March and May. The highest scoring students will then win a place at the UK final in September, which will take place in Leeds.

Outstanding competitors could potentially be selected to represent the UK at the next international WorldSkills competition, which is due to take place in Leipzig, Germany in 2013.

The South’s regional heat, where entrants will be marked on essential skills such as following detailed instructions, producing accurate work outputs, being economical with materials and working to strict timescales, will take place at Highbury College in Portsmouth on April 26.

Last year, seven trainees from the South achieved a place at the UK final, including BCOT student Arran Roberts, who is employed by Whitchurch-based traditional builders, RJ Smith & Co.

Arran, who won gold in the carpentry category at the regional heat in 2010, said: “I really enjoyed the SkillBuild competition.

“The South heat was quite challenging as there was a lot to do, but it covered all the skills that I use on a daily basis. It was fantastic to see all the different trades and to meet all the other competitors.”

John Clark, area delivery manager for CITB-ConstructionSkills South said: “SkillBuild provides a platform to demonstrate the enormous talent we have in the industry, helping to showcase the professionalism of our brightest recruits and the industry.

“There are many benefits of being involved. For trainees, SkillBuild is a chance to prove you are the best in your field, helping to boost your confidence and your career, while for employers it can help you stand out from the crowd – helping you to win new business and showcase your commitment to training. For colleges, SkillBuild can enhance your reputation by demonstrating your construction training is top quality.”

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The UK jobs market now showing encouraging signs

January 24th, 2011 Comments off

Recent reports show small businesses operating in various industries across the UK could be among those seen to be expressing cautious optimism going into 2011.

The latest JobsOutlook report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the UK’s leading recruitment industry body, has shown that despite starting the New Year on a “cautious note”, many businesses are looking to expand their workforce over the coming 12 months.

Roger Tweedy, the REC’s director of research, said: “It is encouraging to see that employers are setting great store in building flexibility into their workforces for the short and long-term while the economy remains in such a fragile state.

“Over the coming year, temporary work will continue to provide an important route back into the labour market.”

However, Mr Tweedy also expressed some concern over the ability of private sector businesses to “absorb” the forthcoming cuts in the public sector resulting from reduced government spending.

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Recent bad weather caused decline in house sales

January 21st, 2011 Comments off

News out states the number of property sales completed in the UK saw a fall in December 2010 due to the adverse weather conditions.

According to the most recent figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), estate agents in the UK reported a drop to a net balance of -15 per cent from the previous figure of -14 per cent.

It noted that two of the key features continuing to affect the market are the ongoing uncertainty about the economy and the lack of mortgage availability for those who are trying to get a foot on the property ladder.

However, there is some optimism that circumstances will improve.

“While lack of supply – and more importantly demand continues to impact heavily – surveyor sentiment does appear more positive for the coming months,” said Rics spokesman Jeremy Leaf.

Recently, Building magazine reported that the government is planning on creating a body that will regulate house building across all of the regions of the UK.

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Mobile Mapper 100

January 20th, 2011 Comments off

Brand New the Mobile Mapper 100 from Mobile CAD Surveying Ltd

mm100Mobile Mapper 100 is the newest generation of GNSS handheld mapping devices introduced by Ashtech

Designed for GIS data collection and mapping, the MobileMapper 100 integrates an open operating system, built-in communications and the Ashtech’s powerful BLADE technology.

BLADE allows the MobileMapper100 to operate in extreme GNSS environments while maintaining the high accuracies desired by GIS professionals.

Sub-meter, decimeter or centimeter real-time accuracy modes


For more information see MobileMapper 100

or MM100 as its also known.

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DIY skills could be gone in 40 years

January 20th, 2011 Comments off

It is reckoned that the average man will no longer be able to perform basic DIY skills in 40 years time, according to a new report.

Research by AA Home Emergency Response has suggested that the rapid increase in new technologies means that traditional skills will be lost in just four decades.

It found that modern men look to shown off their masculinity through using the most up-to-date gadgets rather than with a hammer or screwdriver.

But it is not just the younger generation who are to blame, as many dads are failing to pass on their home improvement expertise to their children.

AA spokesman Tom Stringer said: “By 2030, just one in five men will receive basic DIY knowledge from their father.”

However, some people are still taking part in DIY tasks, as Chris Barnett, managing director of Scottish bespoke builder Roy Homes, told the Press and Journal recently that more people are becoming interested in self-build projects.

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Insolvencies hit UK construction hardest

January 18th, 2011 Comments off

The construction industry was the worst affected sector in the UK for corporate failures in 2010, according to statistics from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The sector suffered 565 insolvencies during the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with manufacturing with 410 and retail with 399.

And PwC business recovery partner Mike Jervis said the demise of UK residential contractor Rok in November 2010 demonstrated that construction sector companies were still vulnerable.

“It is telling that overall construction insolvencies during 2010 were still +15% above those experienced in 2008,” Mr Jervis said.

Nevertheless, the overall UK insolvency figures represented an improvement on 2009.  PwC said a total of 15894 companies became insolvent in 2010 compared to 19512 during the previous year.

Some 3605 companies became insolvent in the fourth quarter of 2010, representing a -6% decrease on the previous quarter and a -19% decrease in comparison to the same quarter of 2009.

“Overall insolvency numbers are back to those seen in 2008. But 2008 was a year of contrasts – pre and post 15 September, when Lehmans filed for bankruptcy. 2010 has seen insolvency volumes stabilise as businesses are proactively managed in intensive care and options other than insolvency are pursued with vigour,” Mr Jervis explained.

However, PwC warned that UK businesses were not out of the woods yet.

“We expect looming public sector cuts to hit the bottom line of many public sector suppliers,” Mr Jervis said.

A modest increase in interest rates would also put additional pressure on many struggling companies, and the prospect needs to be factored into company cash flow forecasts and scenario planning, PwC added.

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