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Phone call to training company

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 30-Jan-09 05:44:18 PM

Scorpion scuttles up to frog and asks: "Any chance of a lift across the river?" 

The frog, suspicious, exclaims: "No, you'll kill me!"

"That would be daft, we'd both drown."

"True", the frog replies. "Pop on then."

Halfway across the river, the scorpion stabs its tail into the frog. Gurgling in pain, the frog shrieks: "Why?!"

"It's my character."

I spoke with a training company salesman yesterday in response to an advert on Fish4Jobs headed:


The subject of fees and an over-bloated workforce is once again a hot topic, you see; as highlighted by a Chartered Surveyor who recently wrote to me, saying:

I've just taken a call from a young girl (27) wanting to know about availability of work as a DEA and any pointers I could give her.

I feel angry and gutted for her...she has paid some poxy outfit from Manchester over £6000 and is only on her first module. I have had to tell her the truth about this "industry" but I didn't enjoy the experience of bursting her bubble.

Several others have fired-off (more) letters to local MPs.


I picks up the phone. 

"Are you aware there is a massive over-supply of energy professionals?", I asked the salesman. Correcting me, he replied: "Of Domestic Energy Assessors, yes; we don't concentrate on that."

"Right, it's just, in your advert, it says there is an urgent requirement for..."

"For commercial, there is, yes," he interrupted. 

He claimed 3,500 are required in the current market based on "official figures from the Government of 207,000" commercial properties each year.

"Plus" he tacked on, "the announcement of another 1.6 million". On this he claimed that Government had closed a loophole and given Trading Standards a "massive budget" to enforce it, and confirmed that these were "extra" commercial properties.

I'm not sure what he was referring to here but according to the Valuation Office Agency website (the VOA is a branch of the HMRC responsible for compiling the business rate and council tax lists) there are only 1.75 million commercial properties throughout England and Wales.

'Regardless of the recession, credit crunch or housing market downturn'

When asked about the advertised claim that an 'estimated 2.5 million homes and commercial properties being rented, sold or built [are required] to have an Energy Assessment in the next 12 months alone', despite the recession, he broke it down thus:

  • 1.8 million rented homes;
  • an estimated 500,00 homes being put up for sale, and;
  • 200,000 commercial properties.

He agreed that supply of Domestic Energy Assessors is saturated but (loudly) protested that I should, "read the advert properly", insisting it was for commercial as well. Once again he broke-down the 2.5 million number.

(A question I should have asked in hindsight (bit slow that day) was: if enough DEAs exist for the domestic housing sector - and you're not, "concentrating on that" - why use the 2.5 million figure at all? Why not target recruitment for the 200,000 commercial properties?)

'Do your research'

Then, as if to back-up the numbers further, he read-out an article from "the papers", he just conveniently had to hand: 'An estimated 90% of all commercial property owners still haven't taken the steps to get their Energy Performance Certificates and cannot legally be sold or rented without one'. The article added: 'This equates to 1.6 [million] commercial properties across the country'.

Gloating, he then suggested I take it up with Envos, the environmental consultancy firm quoted in the report, as if he was citing an official authoritative NGO. "If you're going to ring up and have a go, do your research - 'cos that's what I do every day," he moaned. 

I didn't need to: the report was virtually straight off an Envos press release on its website (.doc), which is clearly part of a promotional campaign to drum-up business and brand-awareness for itself and, no doubt, its franchisees.

In any event, the press release neither proves nor disproves any of the arguments advanced - and what's more, it certainly isn't an authoritative document.

Empathetic to DEAs' plight

Turning to the level of anger from DEAs critical of aggressive training companies promoting a career in an over-subscribed labour market, he said: "I understand the feeling out there but we're responsible in what we do".

Lots of work - fact

"We've got two sister companies with a lot of contracts and at the end of the day, the people on our contracts are getting a lot of work - and I know that's a fact."

Later apologising for sounding "agitated", he said he was "passionate" about the industry and his job. "My heart went out to a lot of people that got qualified in June last year", he said, actually referring to the year before - in 2007 - when Government delayed the implementation of Home Information Packs.

He explained how the company never got into the commercial energy assessment market until October last year because of uncertainty created by the DCLG's abortive launches and the appointment of three Housing Ministers in quick succession.

"The Government moved the goalposts three times in eighteen months ... the industry's been a farce", he said.

Now the show is on the road, the company is forging ahead with its business plan, which, he claimed, does not primarily rely on training energy assessors.

"There's more money to be made out of the industry than there is selling training, and we realise that."

The company is offering, I was told, a "two year rolling contract from the energy assessors' panel" after passing an aptitude test, and, presumably, completing their 'subsidised training', as advertised.

One wonders, if the "sister company" has so much work, and candidates are only accepted if they pass an aptitude test, and there is an 'urgent' requirement for assessors, why the company doesn't safeguard their investment with an employment contract, salary, and full training.

But like the story of the frog and the scorpion, the character of business is to trade.

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Posts: 3
Agree - that was my experience as well
Reply #1 on : Sun February 01, 2009, 22:20:57
I had a very similar experience in July 2007. The training company I approached wanted 12K for the Home Inspector course and whilst this included DEA they wouldn't offer this course separately. Again they offered to discount the course by 3K if I agred to work for their panel for 2 years.

I declined their offer and managed to get just a DEA course for a lot less. I paid about 3K in October 2007. I get work - but not nearly enough.

Posts: 3
All the same
Reply #2 on : Tue February 23, 2010, 21:23:35
This is almost word for word how they sold me this lame duck that im now franticly nursing. I dont need to ask if this company has recently gone into the hands of the administrators. I think we all know who they are.

Posts: 3
A bad experience
Reply #3 on : Mon March 08, 2010, 22:29:43
They sold it like a dream only for it to be a real nightmare.
I was experiencing extreme financial hardship during the course due to loss of income, I wrote to Property professionals/energy assessors explaining the situation that I could not continue under the stress I was experiencing, I found them to be completely inconsiderate and unhelpfull and arrogant in their response and was only concerned with their terms of contract,they abondoned me, leaving me to the lions knowingly that I could not cope with the course. this was most recent they must have known at the time that administration was looming

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