From education to employment

Meeting East Anglia’s demand for construction skills

Chantel Hampton, Seetec’s Operational Partnership Manager

A partnership between employers and skills providers is helping to tackle construction skills shortages in East Anglia.

Supported by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, and co-funded by the European Social Fund, the scheme is delivering fully-funded NVQ construction skills qualifications to help employers to upskill their workforce.

Nearly 60 people across a range of construction-related roles and companies have signed up for the bespoke training organised by employment and skills specialist Seetec.

The Federation of Master Builders’ State of Trade Survey, published in January, showed construction skills shortages had reached a record high. Two-thirds of those running small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms were struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters, with almost half having problems finding plumbers, electricians and plasterers.

Seetec used local authority networks and worked with major construction group Morgan Sindall to target businesses in its supply chain. Chantel Hampton, Seetec’s Operational Partnership Manager (pictured), explained: “Norfolk and Suffolk are difficult areas for companies to retain staff and construction is a priority sector.

“One of our biggest challenges is to reach SMEs which often aren’t on the radar and miss out on opportunities to enhance the capabilities of their workforce at minimum cost. We have been able to target a pocket of employers who weren’t aware that support was available.”

Seetec worked with specialist training provider Construction Skills People, offering a dedicated consultant to help identify employers’ skills gaps. Construction Skills People is delivering the bespoke training at employers’ own premises at convenient times to minimise disruption.

Andy Wood from Construction Skills People said: “By working closely with Seetec, Construction Skills People have been able to support over 25 construction sector employers in the New Anglia area. From trades as diverse as Passive Fire Installation to Plant Operations, our team of training assessors are busy at work supporting the up-skilling of staff of New Anglia’s construction employers.”

Lorna Parrett, Office Manager at Ipswich-based Clarke Demolition Company, found out about the opportunity through the Norfolk Construction Training Group, and said: “Through this scheme we are able to upskill our staff, making them safer workers and giving the industry a better name.

“It is good for our people to have a qualification, and good for our clients to know that they are properly trained.”

Paul McDowie, at King’s Lynn-based PDM Industrial Roofing and Cladding, jumped at the chance for ten of his workers to receive the fully-funded training, explaining: “A lot of sites want NVQ-trained staff, but it normally costs thousands of pounds, so this will definitely help the business.” Without the training, he said staff would have to re-do their Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) test to prove they were qualified to work on sites.

Employers interested in more information about accessing skills training and funding opportunities, should email Seetec.

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