Efforts to tackle skill shortages in the construction industry paid off for a Darlington-based family business with the appointment of three new recruits.
Keen to play a part in helping grow a future workforce for the wider sector, steel construction experts, Braddan Structures, joined forces with NETA Training and Stockton Employment & Training Hub, to deliver a pre-entry course and Skills Bootcamp in steel erecting.
Skills Bootcamps are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with an employer, which are fully funded for learners by the Department for Education, through the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
“Our original intention was to do something proactive to tackle skills gaps in the industry,” said Braddan’s Dan Caddick. “We wanted to put together a training package that would equip people with the cards and qualifications needed to get them into the jobs market, while raising awareness of careers in steel construction.”
However, impressed by the calibre and commitment of those taking part, the firm has gone on to make three job offers, with Harvey, Oliver, and Bradley, all employed as trainee steel erectors.
It’s good news all round for the trio, and as new starter Harvey said: “This was such an amazing opportunity for someone like me who was out of work and seeking to attain a skill that would boost my chances of gaining employment. Now I’m working as a trainee with Braddan’s and haven’t looked back!”
Dan, who has grown up in the trade and is now Braddan’s director of training, said: “Steel erecting can be a well-paid job, but it doesn’t tend to be a sought-after career.”
He explained, changes to the CSCS card system, which means from the end of 2024 all workers will have to have the relevant qualifications on paper (a construction related NVQ) to match their skill set, could see a drop in numbers from the older workforce who previously operated under “grandfather rights”.
Now an assessor himself, Dan said setting up their own training arm has enabled them to tackle the widening skills gaps.
He said: “Nationally there’s a quarter of a million additional construction workers needed in the next three to five years, and in this area, there’s 10 years’ worth of steel erecting work on Teesport alone.”
But being a skilled job that takes years of on-the-job training and experience, he explained when it comes to steel erecting there is no quick fix. A foot in the door for those that took part, the pilot short course and Skills Bootcamp were funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority and delivered alongside NETA Training and Stockton Employment & Training Hub.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: "Giving our young people opportunities to build high quality careers close to home is why I'm delighted we’ve been able to support Skills Bootcamps.
“We need to nurture our talent to realise the promise of our projects to transform our region into a green energy powerhouse. It’s also crucial we pass on our expertise and knowledge to the next generation of our steel workers.
"It's great to see Braddan taking this group on after developing their skills - I hope it inspires others to follow their lead."
As well as building employability skills, those who completed the programme picked up their CCNSG, first aid, abrasive wheels, working at heights, and the IOSH site health and safety training tickets.