Fast tracking future home builders in London

A new pilot scheme is set to make inroads into closing the home building skills gap in the region 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 is working in tandem with 5 further education providers across the country. In London, this includes Barking & Dagenham College, supported by the Finishing and Interiors Sector (FIS) and Saint-Gobain, which is matching 7 out of the nationwide total of 33 college leavers taking part in the pilot with potential employers.

The 2-week London boot camp is specially focused on developing the skills needed for dry lining. Manufacturer and distributor of construction products, Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland has been involved in sourcing London college leavers for the course through their college partnerships, obtaining employer support for the programme and providing the necessary materials support. Out of the Barking & Dagenham College boot camp candidates, 5 have now got employers – they include sub-contractors Astins, Stanmores and Measoms.

The initial pilot scheme 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 2-6-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.

Apart from London, the boot camps have taken place at West Suffolk College, Burton & South Derby College, Leeds College of Building, and Coleg Gwent in Newport. All have now completed and the employer matching process is well underway. Other home builder employers on board the pilot include Persimmon, Barratt, and sub-contractors including Absolute Design and Build.

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.”

Director of Training for Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland, Shenaaz Chenia, said:

“We’re thrilled to have facilitated the London boot camp of this innovative scheme. As a business we are acutely aware of the emerging skills gap in the construction sector and we are determined to do our bit to encourage the next generation of engaged and skilled workers. This scheme is a fantastic model which we hope will go from strength to strength.”

Helen Yeulet, Skills Delivery Director at FIS added:

“We are delighted to be involved in this unique project with the HBF’s Home Building Skills Partnership. The additional 2 weeks of training will offer our students, who have recently completed their dry lining training, the opportunity to really boost their speed and accuracy, so they are site ready for future employment in the home building sector.

“Ensuring employers have easy and direct access to those leaving college enables them to smooth the path into the industry. This approach provides an excellent fast tracked route to site with a quantifiable level of skills from an employer’s perspective.”

Rebecca Hislam, HR and Training Manager at Astins, said:

“It is well known that the construction industry has a skills shortage and we are delighted to be a part of this new and exciting programme set up by the Home Builders Skills Partnership and the FIS in order to tackle this issue. Astins fully supports its people in the development of specialist skills in their chosen field and we are able to continue this aim through active participation in this scheme.  We believe that by ensuring that college leavers are fully prepared for site, that they will get the best start possible when entering a career in dry lining and would like to wish the project continuing success for the future.”