News, views and opinions from the UK roofing industry

Tackling the training challenge in the north west

More schools outreach, a new Roofing Academy and the use of ex-service personnel will all help ramp up recruitment, skills and training in the region, explains Sue Wharton Group Training Officer North West Training Group

The North West of England, like most regions of the UK, suffers from issues around recruitment and training within the roofing industry, which is why in March 2018, the CITB hosted a Forum to identify some of the key challenges. Several Roofing Contractors from across the Region attended, along with other interested parties.

The key challenges revolved around attracting young people in the industry, improving local training provision and ways of improving the quality of training.

A lively discussion yielded some great suggestions, which were taken forward by CITB Area Advisors, David Rowlands and Lorraine Richardson, Dave Radley MD of DMR Training & Consultancy & Sue.

Attracting young people

It’s well known that attracting students into the sector is challenging, as, overall, schools and colleges tend to ignore roofing as a career, so all agreed that it was time we took the industry to them.

A school programme is being rolled out in both the Bolton and Wigan areas following the Schools Autumn half-term break. ‘Have-a-go’ taster sessions are being organised, with the North West Training Group supporting schools where required. Contacts at Job Centres are also being made with a view to a potential programme for the unemployed to be held in due course.

Meanwhile, recruiting ex-service personnel is also being explored after the North West Training Group plus supporters Avonside Group Services, Longworth Roofing, the BMI Group and DMR Training exhibited at the recent Insight Day held for ex-military at Coleg Cambria.

Local training

Bolton College Roofing Workshop has been running for more than 30 years offering roof slating/tiling apprenticeships, however, the closest training provision for Built Up Felt Roofing and Roof Sheeting/Cladding disciplines has been either Birmingham or Glasgow which has had its own incumbent problems for young people, the majority experiencing their first time away from home.

DMR Training has now opened the Roofing Academy in Wigan with two cohorts of first year NVQ Roof Slating/Tiling students having started in September 2018. Built-up Felt Roofing apprenticeships commence in January, and there’s a possibility of the roof sheeting/cladding discipline being catered for at the same location if required by employers. Also being offered is a roll-on, roll-off facility, so training is not tied to the academic year.

Bolton College continues as a Centre of Excellence, taking two cohorts of Roof Slaters/Tilers in September and continuing with 29 students following NVQ Level 2 in their second year.

NVQ Level 3 Roof Slating/Tiling, while not currently available as a third-year apprenticeship, can be offered by DMR Training using OSAT. Should there be enough demand from employers for NVQ Level 3 as an apprenticeship, then this will be considered

Quality

A challenge explored at the Forum was that employers require more emphasis on quality training that is tailored to their needs. This is an ongoing issue, with apprenticeship providers determined to offer quality employer-led training, despite the loss of support for the Trailblazers initiative.

Factors for success

I believe that the Forum and the outcomes that have been achieved are hugely positive and highlight three factors for success when tackling the skills and training challenge:

  • Understand the challenges facing a given region and share these at a get-together of employers, training providers, & training groups.
  • Flexibility in training delivery, with an ability to offer what employers want and need.
  • Strong relationships, working in partnership with employers, training providers, training groups, the NFRC and CITB

And let’s not forget a passion for the industry