A free construction skills training programme, launched across Hampshire last November, has been a roaring success with almost 400 people completing the two-week course so far — and there are places for another 400 before the scheme ends next March.
The County Council’s programme which aims to open up opportunities in the industry to a wider range of people while filling the county’s skills gap, has been funded by a £1m award from the Department for Education (DfE) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The Authority’s bid was one of 26 approved from a total of 60 bids nationally.
Councillor Roz Chadd, the County Council’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, said the uptake on the course had so far exceeded expectations: “With six months to go until the end of the project in March 2020, we are on track to exceed our original target of 650 trainees, qualifying individuals to work on construction sites across the county.
“We have seen people who would not normally have considered a career in construction coming forward — from under-represented groups such as women and ethnic minorities, as well as the long-term unemployed. Their enthusiasm has been impressive — around 150 of the 400 trainees are now working in the industry, thanks to our links with employers on major construction schemes.
“In Hampshire, and nationally, there is a shortage of skilled building workers, so the opportunities are there for anyone who passes this basic training. I urge anyone looking for a new challenge, and wanting to secure their employment future, to consider construction and try a taster course.”
The minimum qualification to work on a construction site is known as the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) Card, which covers health and safety, first aid and basic building skills. Once on site, qualified labourers are able to take part in further training, including apprenticeships, to specialise or improve their skills.
Some of those who have completed the recent Hampshire-funded courses have spoken about their plans for the future. Alison, a former office worker from Gosport, heard about the training from her work coach, who thought she would be good at it. Alison said: “I’m really interested in plumbing, and I really enjoyed doing the practical work like bricklaying.”
Alison highly recommends the course, saying: “Go for it, you will be supported and welcomed, and you’ll have all the encouragement you need to get into the work you want.”
Paul, who undertook a course over the summer in Bordon, added: “I jumped at the chance to get the CSCS card because it opens doors. The most surprising thing I’ve found doing this course is probably the diversity, and how much it has changed on construction sites. I want to make construction a career so, yes I’m in it for life now.”
Header image shows a CSF training session in bricklaying skills and laying a brick patio.