From education to employment

Persimmon appoints Gateshead College to support its growing Combat to Construction initiative

The UK’s leading housebuilder Persimmon Homes has appointed Gateshead College to support its programme to re-train ex-military personnel for a career in the construction industry.

Gateshead College, based in Tyne and Wear, will train all of Persimmon’s Combat to Construction employees. The college will also support Persimmon with its new programme, ‘Up-skill to Construction’, which aims to be a gateway into the construction industry for those looking to change career or enhance the building skills they already possess.

Persimmon Homes has been at the forefront of the movement to use the skills of ex-forces men and women with between 12,000 and 15,000 leaving the armed services each year.

The new starters will train in bricklaying and joinery while being paid during the duration of their training period. The service leavers and up-skill trainees will also work on live housing developments across the UK eventually obtaining an NVQ Level 2 qualification at the end of their studies.

Richard Latham, Group HR director at Persimmon Homes, said: “The two courses are aimed at delivering skilled workers to Persimmon developments across the UK.

“Ex-forces personnel are bringing many benefits to Persimmon. In our experience they are well motivated, keen to learn a new trade and used to being in a learning environment. We have already seen some of our successful combat to construction trainees move beyond the building site and into site management.”

Michael Torrode, has joined the Combat to Construction programme having served for six years in the Royal Signals where he trained as a communication and electronic warfare technician.

The 29-year-old from Buckley in Flintshire said: “I saw Combat to Construction before I ended my time in the military and thought it was unique to have an opportunity beyond the age of school leavers to learn a new trade. I have friends who work in the building industry and they speak highly of it so I knew it would be something I’d be interested in.

“My aim is to master the skills I’ll acquire and get out onto the Persimmon sites where I can show people what I can do.”

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, said: “We’re delighted to support Persimmon’s Combat to Construction and Upskill to Construction programmes.

“As well as helping ex-military personnel and other professionals forge a worthwhile career in the industry, the programmes also develop a pipeline of skilled talent that will enable Persimmon to remain competitive going forward. They are also helping the company to anticipate and address skills gaps in the workforce.

“Our productive partnership with Persimmon is a good example of how we work with employers to adapt training provision to meet their business needs. We will continue to work with the company to ensure it has access to work-ready staff with the skills and aptitudes required to grow their business.”


Photo captions:

“Combat to Construction” – from left to right: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Michael Torrode, Ryan Hall, Jason Evans, Richard Latham, James Smith, Jamie Hayward and Scott Garrod.

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CASE STUDY: Adam says he has found the perfect job after leaving the Army

A former serviceman turned joiner has praised the Combat to Construction programme and encouraged other ex-forces men and women to sign up.

It is nearly two years since Adam Ross, originally from Chester-le-Street but now living in Newcastle upon Tyne, began working for the company and he says it is the perfect job after leaving the Army.

The initiative enables service leavers to retrain into a rewarding second career within the housebuilding industry. The company trains ex-military personnel, employs them and commits to paying them a living wage during their training.

The 29-year-old had been a sergeant in the 1st Battalion Scots Guard, based at Catterick, and served in Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2012 before signing up for Combat to Construction in 2014.

Upon leaving the Army, Adam sought a new challenge, adding: “I wanted to go into a job where I was able to put the skills I learned from my career into practice.

“I saw Persimmon Homes was training ex-forces as part of a Career Transition Programme and I signed up. I passed an assessment in 2014 and was delighted to be offered a three-year contract in February 2015.

“I had great help along the way from Stevie Carrick, who was a joiner and is now a site foreman for the North East region. He was always taking the time to guide me. It was incredible; I went from never picking up a saw to a job as a joiner in 18 months and was paid along the way to do it.”

Adam, who is working on the Portland development in Ashington, Northumberland, says he has been contacted by former comrades asking him about the scheme and speaks highly of it.

He added: “I keep telling them they should do it. The Army teaches you to adapt to different situations and to get on with the job in hand and this job is similar. There’s a great camaraderie on the site and it’s a tight knit group where everyone helps each other out, which does remind me of my service days.

“I really enjoy the job and if anyone is looking to move from the military into a new profession, they should look at Combat to Construction.”

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