From education to employment

New Site Operative training becomes a reality thanks to Let’s Talk Real Skills

Jamie Jones-Buchanan interviews Darren Hamer on the Kirkstall Forge site.

A new Site Operative qualification is being offered to people in the Leeds City Region who want to get a foothold in the construction industry. 

This new, much needed course has been developed with funding from the European Social Fund as part of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges’ Let’s Talk Real Skills (LTRS) project. 

In 2020, the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges formed a ‘Collaborative Skills Partnership‘ (CSP) to understand what training is currently available and what the common skills gaps are in the construction industry. From early discussions, it was clear that there was no national, industry-recognised career path or qualification for the general Construction Site Operative. Historically this role was known as ‘labourer’ – a label which is in part responsible for this occupation not receiving the recognition it deserves, despite being essential to any construction site. 

Furthermore, recent research carried out with employers by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) highlighted the demand for skilled Site Operatives. 

The collaborative partnership met regularly to explore and develop new training provision for businesses by using funding from Let’s Talk Real Skills.

After months of discussion and planning, the course was launched in September 2021, and has been delivered to over 30 participants in both Wakefield College and Kirkstall Forge. 

The training allows existing employees to gain proper recognition of their skills which will increase their career opportunities. Meanwhile, new entrants to the construction industry will have a recognised career path which they can follow. 

New film showcases the construction course

Anew film, produced by Ram Films and presented by Leeds Rhinos Coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan showcases how the partnership between the construction industry and educators has resulted in this new, in-demand qualification. The training was made possible by the partnership work between: 

  • ·         Wakefield College, 
  • ·         iConsult, 
  • ·         DJH Consult, 

and with the support of 

  • ·         CEG, 
  • ·         Forging Futures Campus, 
  • ·         Kirkstall Forge and, 
  • ·         Sirius, 

The project was managed and co-ordinated by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges. 

The ESF funding from Let’s Talk Real Skills allowed the pilot of this course to take place. Now, the course will continue to be offered through the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, who will access funding streams to make the training free to eligible participants. New dates will be available from January 2022. 

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