Antony O’Neil of Trades Training in Edinburgh knows what it’s like to ride through tough times and is now reaping the rewards of his hard work and determination. He set up the training centre in 2007, just three months before the recession began. Economic downturns are always tough on the construction trade, but he began small, focusing on tiling and plastering in the early days and moving into plumbing as nearby training centres fell by the wayside and he spotted new demand.
Antony has had a long-standing relationship with LCL; delivering its Water Regulations qualification for around four years. He has recently added the Unvented Hot Water Systems and Legionella awards to his suite of bolt-on qualifications for plumbers. LCL’s Tracy Harker caught up with Antony recently, to see how things were going.
TH: Hello Antony, you’re a busy man!
AO: I am. I’m really pleased how people are responding to what we offer. We train new-learners in plumbing with Diplomas and NVQ Level 2, but we also attract a lot of people working in the trades looking to up-skill with bolt-on qualifications in specialist areas. Because we’re small, we’re able to be a lot more adaptable and offer some of the smaller qualifications that the bigger colleges don’t offer. Our class sizes are also small with no more than 5 learners at one time so this means they get more time with the instructor.
TH: And our short courses such as the Water Regulations, Legionella and Unvented Hot Water Systems are contributing to your success?
AO: Yes, they are. People like them and we do too. They’re straight-forward to deliver and the technical support you provide is good. It was very helpful that you came up to visit the school at the outset and have kept things moving with our certification. Now we’re up and running, it’s great that we can call if we have a query and hear straight back. Other awarding bodies take days to respond and it’s a real pain.
TH: You used to be in the Armed Forces didn’t you?
AO: Yes, I served with the Royal Marines and on leaving I realised there were no private training centres in Scotland offering trades training – they were all in England. That’s when I decided to set up. Initially it was tiling, which is my background, and then I moved into plumbing and plastering and I’ve now got a number of assessors working with me. All ex-tradesman with years of experience between them.
TH: Do you train ex-forces?
AO: Yes, we do along with people from all walks of life, we help re-train a lot of ex-forces personnel but we have had candidates who were investment bankers, police officers as well as those already in the trades looking to up-skill or retrain. Today most of our learners are self-funding so they’re looking for qualifications that really deliver results.
TH: How do you attract new candidates?
AO: We advertise through our website, Facebook and Google, but really it’s our reputation that sells it for us. People know we’re dedicated and here for the long run - we’ll see them through their journey.
TH: It must be satisfying to see that what you’re doing makes a difference to people’s lives.
AO: It is. We recently had one student who completed his City & Guilds plumbing Diploma and then went straight on to his Water Regulations and on to complete his NVQ and has gained employment. Another pair have completed their C&G Diploma and want to do their Water Regulations and Unvented Hot Water whilst working to achieve their NVQ.
We pride ourselves on delivering courses in a relaxed and friendly environment taught by experienced instructors along with technical support and guidance on completion. A lot of our students return at some stage for further training.
TH: That’s excellent. I’m really pleased things are going so well. What about the future?
AO: We continually review what we offer. We’re currently looking into delivering LCL’s Safe Isolation of Single Phase Electrical Systems. What we’re really about is training people to make the most of their skills, so that they’re able to start earning whilst receiving ongoing support from Trades Training.
For more information, visit: https://tradestraining.co.uk/