Archive 2016 10

Skills and Training company’s new financial year elevated from trainee positions, the courses act as a springboard for a successful career in construction. Around 15 per cent of its 2,000 employees are trainees and the housebuilder recently opened a dedicated training centre at Colindale Gardens in Barnet as it continues to invest in new programmes to fill specific skills gaps. “Over the past 12 months our apprenticeship offering has expanded,” explains Karen Jones, HR director for Redrow Homes. “We’ve added to our range of trade apprenticeships, so we now offer roles in plastering, painting and decorating, groundworks and customer care in addition to carpentry, plumbing, electrics and bricklaying, and take on school leavers as well as older apprentices looking for a career change.” And with Redrow aiming to take on a record 100 trade apprentices this year, she says the focus is now on increasing that number across all disciplines. But with a potential shortfall of nearly 100,000 workers in the sector, Joanne Garwood, central services director at civil engineering firm FM Conway, admits the construction industry needs “fresh thinking” in order to broaden its reach and appeal because “traditional approaches to training and recruitment are not enough to solve a challenge of this scale.” According to Garwood, large sections of society, including young unemployed adults lacking experience, are overlooked by some prospective employers. “With the right help, however, these young adults represent a significant pool of talent that our industry can tap into,” she says. This, Garwood explains, is one of the reasons why FM Conway and the Worshipful Company of Paviors joined forces to set up a new training organisation called the London Highways Academy of Excellence. “The academy teaches basic employability and constructionrelated skills to young people to help www.builderandengineer.24 kickstart their careers,” she says. “Through the Academy’s London Pass course, for example, candidates receive accredited training in areas such as customer care and health and safety. The two-week course is fully funded to ensure it is accessible to as many people as possible.” Over two thirds of the students who completed the course last year were NEETs and almost 40 per cent of the Academy’s 2015 graduates have now secured employment and Garwood believes there is no reason why this figure cannot rise further. “Establishing these kinds of schemes will require a significant time and financial investment by employers. However, by helping to attract a broader range of people into construction while providing a helpline to young adults who have often run out of alternative options, it will be time and money well spent.” Richard Howse, training officer at Mabey, agrees and says “it’s vitally important that every pound spent on training is made to count.” Since opening the Mabey Academy at its Wigan site five years ago, the engineering company has placed strong emphasis on effective training offering 13 accredited courses and combining practical and classroom-based training into a single education facility. “We also have a purpose-built outdoor training area, enabling our trainees to familiarise themselves with equipment from our range of groundworks and construction products, and practice using them Loughborough housebuilder William Davis is also helping new apprentices learn the trade by getting them onsite from the start. “Our aim is to give the new apprentice intake opportunities to learn right from the outset, and taking them onto a live building site does just that,” explains apprentice training supervisor, Gary Long. “Immediately, they get to see the day-to-day activities taking place as well as meet and speak to the site managers and tradespeople they will be working alongside.” Other construction firms, like Manchester-based Styles&Wood, have brought training in-house by utilising their own industry-accredited trainers to run staff workshops. “We’ve made our skills training better primed to suit these changing needs by creating a long-term development plan centred on inhouse training,” says Karen Morley, chartered FCIPD director of HR at the property services group. And in a technology-led world, ITC Concepts has launched videos and Waldeck has taken advantage of new software to supplement training. Ian Conway, managing director of Croydon-based specialist fitout contractor, ITC Concepts, felt traditional site inductions, delivered via PowerPoints and printed handouts, were not getting through to subcontractors so rolled-out a series of training videos. He said: “With tech evolving so quickly, we recognised the need to make our training processes fit for the 21st Century. We decided interactive communications tools were needed to really get our messages across.” Accredited with The Investors in Education Award for commitment to providing education and development opportunities to students and graduates, Waldeck opened its BIM Academy in 2012 and also runs a 12- week Graduate Training Scheme. The engineering company has worked with software provider, Excitech, to introduce enhanced training through Pinnacle Series to grow its talent pool. And in order to resolve the skills crisis, Veronica Ruby, lead BIM and PLM consultant says: “the new talent we nurture for tomorrow need the best tools.” n Karen Jones Joanne Garwood “With tech evolving so quickly, we recognised the need to make our training processes fit for the 21st Century. We decided interactive communications tools were needed to really get our messages across.” Ian Conway

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