Funding of CITB Wales’ Onsite Experience Hubs, a project which has seen 524 people become site ready in just 18 months, has been extended to 2025.
The £780,000 funding will enable 780 more people from local communities to gain invaluable skills and experience, opening a range of construction career opportunities.
The project has been operating in Wales as part of a £9.5m UK-wide scheme. Onsite Hubs aim to take away the barriers to construction employment. The four centres in Wales are managed by a network of local training providers.
The hubs are located in:
- Two locations in Cardiff, led by Cardiff Council and Kier Construction
- West Wales led by Cyfle Building Skills Ltd
- And across north Wales, managed by Procure Plus.
Tim Balcon, CITB Chief Executive, said:
“Employers told us there can be a lack of work-readiness among new entrants, so our Onsite Experience hubs bridge the gap between training and working.
“The extension of these hubs will increase the construction talent pool in Wales, creating a work-ready pipeline to meet the needs of local construction employers, enabling the industry to have a skilled, competent and inclusive workforce now and in the future.”
Adam Jones from Brenig Construction says:
“One of the biggest challenges we have seen over the last few years is missing generations where we haven’t seen many people below the age of 40 coming into the industry. This has meant there is a lack of experienced people out there. The individuals we get through this scheme want to work in construction they are not using it as a stop gap. They are well vetted and committed to work.”
Lauren Taylor secured a job with Lane End Group at the start of their housing development in Llandudno, which includes social housing.
She has recently trained on a course in Rhyl: “I had brought a family member to a support group at Salvation Army and I heard about the course then. My ears pricked up when I heard that anyone could join the course.
“I do like doing things with my hands and getting stuck in. I like the typical male role. The feedback I got from outside was that is a mans’ job but no it’s not women can do those jobs too.
“I have been a leakage engineer in the past and I did labouring for a private builders. I really enjoy the graft and the job satisfaction.
“The course gave us in-depth health and safety training and emphasised the importance on health and safety on site. I got my CSCS card in the post 3 weeks after the course completion. I felt really prepared.
“Procure Plus helps you get work after the course. I was asked where I wanted to work and they found this for me 3 minutes from my home address!
“My ambition? Well, when I see a ladder…I like to aim for the top. In five years I want to be site manager.”
Lane End Group Construction Director, Mick Cunningham, said:
“Lane End are passionate about supporting any initiative that helps to promote a career in the construction industry.
“Construction can be highly underestimated as a promising and rewarding career, and it is the responsibility of the entire sector to change this perception.
“Organisations such as Procure Plus and CITB can really help with this providing the opportunity of a real kick start into the industry.
“Lane End manage every aspect of the construction journey from procurement through to the design, build and ultimate delivery of the build. Our partnership will give individuals a tremendous opportunity to progress in a wide spectrum of roles within our business.
“We are delighted to be supporting Procure Plus and welcome Lauren to our Llandudno site team”
Stefan is another graduate of the Onsite experience programme, and now works full time for Wrexham based construction company, Read Construction. Stefan explained he was finishing serving a sentence in HMP Berwyn in Wrexham and was offered a place on the Procure Plus programme to improve his ‘work ready’ skills. During the final weeks of Stefan’s sentence, he was partnered with Read Construction to work in open conditions on day release.
He said: “I attended the course provided by Procure Plus and saw it as a great opportunity for a crime free future. Construction is giving me a sustainable income to provide a good life and future for myself and my family.” Stefan added he had been welcomed and supported by all at Read Construction, gaining further skills and experience to support his future career in the industry.
Karen Heaton- Morris, a Director at Read Construction said:
“With the increasing skills gap, initiatives such as the Onsite Experience is fantastic. With our prisons teaching a variety of industry skills, there is a huge talent pool with the potential to help reduce skills shortages. Stefan initially joined our team on a short-term placement to improve his site experience whilst on day release, and we were delighted to offer him a full-time employment opportunity upon release, helping him to get back on track. Stefan’s appointment filled a long-term vacant position within the business, demonstrating the shortage of skills workers within our local region”.
People from all walks of life can apply to do the two week programme which includes a HS&E test and level 1 Health and Safety Award. With work experience gained on live sites, local employers are then able to recruit site-ready workers straight into their vacancies.
Since the scheme has been operating 766 people (363 in Wales and 403 in England) have started employment in construction.
The hubs provide candidates for employers to trial on live construction sites, giving job seekers real first-hand experience. Once the onsite experience placement is complete, the employer then decides if the candidate is a good fit for their business and if so recruits them in the usual way.