A new training scheme for the construction industry is helping to provide life-changing career opportunities, those behind the project say.
The Marches Construction Ready Partnership aims to train around 400 skilled construction workers across the region by helping the long-term unemployed, students and people looking to make a career change into the construction industry.
Funding for the Partnership comes from the Construction Skills Fund which is creating 20 training hubs around the country. The 18-month scheme is funded by the Department for Education administered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
Telford College is one of a number of partners in the Marches group and says it is already helping change lives for the better.
Single mum Simone Hitchin, 32, from Wellington, was out of work and in danger of losing her benefits when she found out about the scheme.
With previous experience working as a cleaner, and on taxi ranks, she said going into construction was the last thing on her mind.
But she is now helping to build revolutionary low-energy ‘passivhaus’ homes as a trainee house building operative for The Wrekin Housing Group.
Simone is helping to make panels for four homes being built in Arleston – advanced, low energy, draft-free buildings that feature high performance insulation to effectively eliminate heat loss.
“Being a trainee house building operative has helped me gain in confidence and it is good to have a job I can fit in around the school run,” said Simone. “I feel more positive and have faith in myself again.
“This new role has also given me more financial freedom and enabled me to do more things with my eight-year-old daughter, Brook.
“For starters, I have also been able to afford to apply for my provisional driving licence and will go on to book driving lessons in the near future.
“I never thought about going into construction – I knew I liked decorating and gardening, and I did woodwork at school, but I never thought about it as a job. Now I would also like to pass on the skills I have learnt and help train others.”
In addition to the Wrekin Housing Group and Telford College, the Marches Construction Ready Partnership is made up of Landau Ltd and Beattie Passive, with support from the Marches LEP.
Susan Gomer, assistant principal for employer engagement at Telford College, said: “This is a fantastic programme providing relevant and comprehensive training for individuals looking to start a career within the construction industry.
“Our employability team plays an important role, starting by inducting and screening candidates using our relationship with the Job Centre, then delivering the initial two weeks of pre-employment training helping students gain vocational qualifications.”
Fortnightly training takes place in venues such as Tan Bank, Wellington and the MCR Centre in Trench. Simone is on a BTEC Certificate in Construction course.