Most Popular Construction Courses in the UK

Construction is one of the most popular career choices in the UK employing over 6% of the total workforce. It’s also a leading source of self-employment accounting for nearly a million businesses across the country.

There is decent money and fruitful career to look forward to in this industry, even more so if you are equipped with right skill-set and qualifications.

Doing a construction course is often the best way to get the right CSCS Card and above all build up safety and administrative skills required to be effective in your role.

Amid the sea of courses, we have sorted out the most popular courses in the construction industry for you to pursue. They serve most of the construction trades and there is a good chance one of them should be right for you.

Most popular courses in the construction industry are:

1-day CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course:

Who should take this course?

It’s meant for labourers, unskilled workers, and those skilled workers – like carpenter, bricklayer, mason, plumber, electrician etc. – who lack qualifications needed to obtain a relevant CSCS Card.

What do I learn?

This 1-day course is essential to get, or renew, CSCS Green Labourer’s Card. You learn basic skills needed to identify and alleviate health and safety hazards prevalent on sites. The certificate is valid for 5 years before you require taking it again.

This is by far the most popular CITB Course and majority of tradesmen who want Green Labourer Card opt for it. The only catch is you have to take it every time you renew your card and if that is an irritant go for the course mentioned below: it’s tailor-made for tradesmen just like you.

Level 1 Award Health & Safety in a Construction Environment:

Who should take this course?

It’s for the same group of tradesmen that the above CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course is for. The only difference is that Level 1 Award is valid for life and you are exempt from doing it, or any other course, again to get – or renew – Green CSCS Card.

What do I learn?

Though this is a 5-day course, there are training providers who can fit it into a day as well for those a little short on time. Here you are trained to ensure safer and healthier sites by developing capacity to preempt onsite health, safety and environmental hazards.

SSSTS Site Supervisors’ Safety Training Scheme:

Who should take this course?

People working, or want to work, as supervisor in construction industry.

What do I learn?

This 2-day course equips you with legal, behavioral and managerial aspects of onsite safety that your role as a supervisor requires to ensure healthier, safer and environment-friendly sites. This certificate is valid for 5 years before you need to renew it with the 1-day SSSTS refresher course.

SMSTS Site Management Safety Training Scheme:

Who should take this course?

People working, or looking to work, as Managers on construction sites

What do I learn?

There are legal, behavioral, administrative and practical aspects of onsite safety you need to know and follow as a manager and this course prepares you for that. This certificate is valid for 5 years and then you can renew it with the 2-day SMSTS refresher course.

These courses are construction industry attempt to improve the productivity and safety at workplace and going by the stats – onsite accidents and illness almost being halved in a decade – we can say they have succeeded to a great extent.

Precast Concrete Construction

In the mid-nineties, I was heading a civil design department for a large EPC contractor in South East Asia. We had received an order to build a paper plant.

The primary building in a paper plant is the paper machine building. A typical paper machine building is about 300 m long. The building typically has two floors, one at ground level, and one at about 7.5 m level. The paper machine is installed on a foundation that is not connected to the building. The machine is accessible from the machine hall at 7.50 m level. This building houses other complex and heavy machinery and has very stringent requirements with respect to quality, structural design and stability. The roof is high up and some of the sections of this building are subject to temperatures between 50 to 60 0 C. A large overhead crane straddles the upstairs machine hall. The differential settlement in the paper machine foundation has to be less than one mm and overall settlement at any point less than 1.25 mm. This building, with all its components and the equipment foundations, normally takes 18 months to build.

Our managing director was an innovative man and constantly sought ideas to speed up construction. One day, he called me to his office and showed me an article narrating about a company in the US that had developed techniques to build a paper machine building using pre cast elements. This paper machine building was completed in a record time of 6 months, said the article. We appointed the US company as our consultants and they did the engineering with the help of our engineers in our office. We built our paper machine building in a year cutting down the time by about six months. This was despite a delay of about three months due to the learning curve and the time required for setting up a precast plant.

Thus began my twenty two years long association with pre-cast concrete. My old company has built several large industrial plants and other structures since then.

In many first world countries pre cast elements for bridges, culverts have been standardized. Pre-casting units are located near major cities that supply these elements to the construction sites. This not only reduces the construction time but also the design time as one uses standard elements whose properties are known.

There are variations of the precast concrete construction such as tilt up construction, module fitments etc.

I have often wondered why India, with so much construction needed in the all the sectors of construction, has not embraced this technique. Apart from other issues like need for repetition, unfriendly taxation, requirement of transport or lifting machinery etc., I think our engineers have not given a serious thought to developing this technique.

I would like to share some of my learnings.

1. Planning is Paramount: The structure to be built from precast elements has to be broken down in elements, in a pre-determined configuration. It is like making the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that when put together will form the completed puzzle. It can be a combination of standard and non-standard pieces.

2. God is in details: Each element thus planned has to be detailed out to fit all the elements on all its sides and the embedment required for utilities.

3. Design the Construction and Construct the design: Normal structural engineering practice of designing the final product and leaving the “How?” to the construction personnel, does not work in precast. The structural engineer has to stay involved in the process of pre casting, erection and placement.

To the best of my knowledge, IS codes do not have specific provisions for pre cast structures unlike ACI or BS codes. Some of the clauses in ACI can be substituted by provisions in their supplementary publications. Such provisions have to be applied judiciously after a proper assessment of the stages in the service life of the element. A foremost expert on pre-casting once said “Applying provisions of R.C.C code to pre-casting would be like playing tennis with a baseball bat”

The structural design for a precast element is done for various stages of in its early life. Multiple level checks are required till the element is placed, more checks are required if it is a pre-stressed element with partial un-bonding of tendons.

4. Joints can cause headaches: Resolving and configuring a joint between precast elements can be an arduous task. It becomes a heuristic process to balance between the structural requirement, functionality with respect to basic consideration as water tightness, and the size of the elements to which an element in consideration is attached. Joints have to be constructed the way they have been envisaged.

5. Cutting off ears because they stick out, not only impairs hearing but also creates difficulty in wearing spectacles: This is known to occur frequently where architectural requirements are of primary importance. Typically some architects do not like some essential arrangements created for better joints. Doing away with these “hindering” details may lead to reduced functionality of the joints or the elements. Expensive alternate arrangements are required to restore functionality.

6. Construction Methodology can make or break a project: Many years ago, a large bulk warehouse with pre-cast pre stressed concrete bow string girders as roof trusses was being constructed in India for a fertilizer plant. Out of twelve bowstring girders, six broke while being lifted while the others were erected smoothly. Designs were checked and double checked and checked again. This was before the easy availability of the sophisticated finite element analysis that we have today. It finally dawned on someone that the bow string girders broke because a girder while being lifted in tandem by two cranes, twisted out of plane due to different rates of lifting. A structural engineer designing precast elements should, therefore, have the knowledge of the lifting process.

7. Quality is the watchword: Consistent Quality of production is one of the arguments put forward by the advocates of precast. But many a mismatches, rejections and failures have occurred due to watching only the quality of concrete and giving less importance to placement of reinforcement embeds and the dimensional tolerances.

8. A one rupee increase in the production cost can mean a crore of rupees at the end: Due the repetitive nature of the cost of pre-casting a lot of thought has to be given to use any “nice to have” component. While the most obvious cost elements related to concrete are watched vigilantly, a small embed or a detail, that is incorporated in the design and casting of an element for a probable use, escapes attention. Such an embed that was proposed to be used and has been cast in the element has already added to the cost of producing the element. When a number of such elements are cast, the expenditure can be substantial. If such redundancy if not eliminated in time, it can waste lakhs of rupees.

GEM believes in providing an open work culture in which employees get opportunities to hone their skills, thrive in a professional environment and develop an entrepreneurial mind-set. Our goal is to provide value added technical service of International Quality at competitive price. We believe in a continual update of skills of our employees and client’s engineers and these blogs are aimed at achieving this objective.

A New Property Development Model Is Challenging The Big End of Town

Property Development – Changing the Funding Model

The Australian property market is a potential ticking time-bomb with residential investors increasingly focused on the capital appreciation for returns, whilst commercial property transactions has actively pursued yield based investments over the past 12-18 months. The property market seems buoyed by large interest from offshore investment and local cashed-up investors and developers. The short to medium term outlook for interest rates appears to be positive, but longer term there is an expectation of rising rates – tightening interest rates from banks are coming into play and access to development finance isn’t as rosy as it once was.

The restrictions on institutional lending will become a growing issue as the major banks need to reduce exposure to property leading and markets. The market is also adjusting to tightening on foreign buyers and global policy changes happening around the movement of capital outflows such as China. According to Knight Frank Chinese-backed developer’s bought 38% of Australian residential development sites in 2016.

Developers/Builders – The Challenge

Developers appreciate there are still significant opportunity in the market but the challenge now sits in accessing capital and potentially looking at non-bank capital sources. Key aspects will be to consider development design, building services and fabric costs. Stripping back development costs to these numbers can demonstrate opportunity to extend funding budget and potentially look at specialist funding sources.

The cost of funding might rise on the debt side, but if investor equity is costly, the increase LVRs available with private funders might provide net decreases in the overall cost of capital. The ability to access this funding without pre-sale quotas make it a desirable option for smaller developers.

Typically buildings are being designed and built to minimum code removing the costs of all the bells and whistles to maximise builder & developer profit. Less consideration and emphasis is placed on the new development’s ongoing operation and liabilities.

The New Model

What if we could put in all these additional extras to create a better performing asset with lower operational costs, but not have to increase the capital budget – in-fact decrease our capital cost by accessing Green Structured Finance (GSF), long-term funding available, subsidised by specialist product funding. This new loan/debt will be serviced by the operational savings made by the improved technology and products.

As an example, a developer is building and owning a mixed use site for $50m. We consider the design and energy consuming technologies for the site (ie lighting, solar, metering/embedded network, thermal insulation, glazing performance, energy efficient white-goods, hot water, HVAC).

SFG assess the ongoing lifecycle cost of these technologies. We then create a package outlining which products have an attractive return on investment based off the predicted energy costs. For this example $5m is taken out of the capital cost of the project for the improved package. This will reduce the developers Capex and Opex, improving cashflow and returning profit. This reduction of $5M or 10% is able to used on other projects or contribute to improving the project LVR and financial make-up.

Green Structured Finance from Sustainable Future Group is a new approach to a tightening development financing market, designed to optimise financial and development performance. We specialise in pulling together projects crossing the boundaries of Financial, Design, Advice and Delivery. Contact us to see how we can help improve your development.