Intensive courses launch to close skills gap

September 20, 2017 / Isla MacFarlane
Intensive courses launch to close skills gap

A new pilot scheme is set to make inroads into closing the home building skills gap by fast tracking qualified construction college leavers into their specialist job area and getting them prepared for the world of work.

In doing so, it will reduce the risk of them falling away from the sector or unemployment. Participants have now all completed their training and are being matched with employers.

The CITB funded ‘boot camp’ pilot has been developed by the Home Builders Federation’s (HBF) Home Building Skills Partnership, that has been working in tandem with five further education providers across the country and matching 33 of their college leavers taking part in the pilot with potential employers. This initial pilot is focusing on carpentry and joinery, dry lining and bricklaying, which are among the most challenging job areas to recruit to, with the potential to expand across the country into other job areas.

The boot camp is a two to six-week on-site training course to test participant competency, enhance their newfound skills, improve speed to support their future employment with home builder firms, and bridge the gap between leaving college and the world of work. The participants are matched with potential home builders and their sub-contractors, with a view to starting on site as paid employees, subject to assessment at the end of the training. They will also receive CITB funding to achieve their NVQ for their CSCS blue skilled card.

The boot camps have taken place at West Suffolk College, Burton & South Derby College, Leeds College of Building, Barking and Dagenham College in Romford, and Coleg Gwent in Newport. All have now completed and the employer matching process is well underway.

Home builder employers on board the pilot include Persimmon, Barratt, and sub-contractors including Absolute Design and Build, Measoms and Astins.

Jenny Herdman, Director of the Home Building Skills Partnership, said, “Colleges play a key role in getting people trained in specialist trades, but we know that it’s not always enough to secure them employment.  Nationally, the overall retention rate of construction college leavers moving into their specialist trades is a major challenge and we need them in home building.

“As an industry we need to get better at transitioning college leavers from construction courses into employment.

“This fast track programme aims to get more site ready people entering the home building industry and so help increase industry capacity.

“Ultimately, we want to see an established pathway for new entrants from full time courses to the home building sector.

“The response from industry has been extremely encouraging, and we look forward to supporting the young home builders of the future every step of the way into their new career. We would urge even more home building companies to get involved and support this pioneering initiative.”

Ian Hirst, Faculty Director of Construction Crafts at Leeds College of Building, which ran one of the boot camps, added, “As the UK’s only specialist construction further education college, it is a huge privilege to be involved in this project with the HBF’s Home Building Skills Partnership.

“The programme is designed to offer our students, who have completed a two year bricklaying course, an additional six weeks of training that focusses on developing their speed and accuracy, so they have the specific skillsets that the home building sector requires.

“Creating this direct link with national employers is immediately benefitting our students on other programmes, and we are building on that momentum here through our engagement with homebuilders.”

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