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Training Centre Grows Recession Drives Rush For Plumb Jobs

Friday, 28 November 2008

So many people are looking towards traditional trades such as plumbing to protect them during the recession that training providers are having to expand to meet demand.

Building Trade Skills Centres has seen demand for its intensive plumber training courses soar during 2008 as people being made redundant from shrinking sectors seek to gain a seemingly 'recession-proof' skill.

Now the company, which runs Europe's two largest plumber training centres in Surrey and Manchester, is looking to open a third base in Birmingham to meet demand.

BTSC MD, Allen Jackson, said: "Even as early as March, we were receiving upwards of 1,000 calls a week from people looking to gain a new skill to protect them from the economic downturn.

"That figures has obviously gone up recently as simple fears about job security have turned into fairly high levels of redundancies and significant drops in recruitment.

"Fortunately our existing facilities are huge and the courses we run are very intensive, which all means we can take on a greater number of new trainees than a traditional college which only has one fairly small intake a year.

"But we are still getting calls from people travelling some considerable distances to be at one of our two centres, so we are now planning a third centre in Birmingham to meet that demand."

The view that traditional trades are less susceptible to the economic slowdown is borne out by figures published by City and Guilds earlier in the year which showed that no fewer than 82 per cent of plumbers are better off now than they were 12 months ago.

Despite the slowdown in the construction industry, the demand for newly-qualified plumbers is still high due to the large numbers of existing tradesmen now approaching retirement age.

Allen added: "It's well known now that Britain has a serious skills gap for fully qualified plumbers, with estimates forecasting that we will need 4,500 newly trained plumbers each year from now until 2012 just to keep up with demand.

"But on a much simpler level, people realise that taps will eventually drip, pipes will eventually leak, and so we will always need plumbers in a way which we perhaps don't for some other professions.

"It's no surprise, in that sense, that when people are forced to look for more secure career paths with potentially very handsome financial rewards, plumbing is an increasingly popular choice."


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Notes to editors


  • Building Trade Skills Centres was established in 2005 to provide the highest quality intensive plumber training courses anywhere in Europe.
  • At 45,000 sq ft, the company's first training centre in Chessington, Surrey, was Europe's largest and most advanced.
  • At 65,000 sq ft, BTSC's new £2 million training centre in Eccles, near Manchester, is now Europe's largest and most state-of-the art.
  • Each centre is designed around 12 specially constructed bays, each of which can house a class of 12 trainees and will ultimately run 25 classes every week.
  • Courses are split into 13 one-week, intensive modules, each of which includes City and Guilds Assessments and can be scheduled around most trainee's other commitments.
  • Both the London and Manchester centres are also equipped with state-of-the-art classrooms and exam rooms as well as self-study areas for trainees to use with trainers on hand.
  • Both sites have been chosen for their excellent transport links, and attract trainees from - in some cases - hundreds of miles away.
  • All BTSC's trainers are City & Guilds approved and, to date, every trainee qualifying at Technical Certificate Level 3 has been placed in a job by BTSC's full-time placement team.