The construction products manufacturing and distribution sectors widely organise training at their facilities across the UK, particularly to skill the builders and tradespeople in “user training” to ensure that products are correctly installed onsite.
In 2015 the CPA published ‘Skills Report 2015’ undertaken in partnership with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The report not only mapped the training provision but sought to identify ways of optimising competence and qualifications across the supply chain between manufacturers’ training and existing CITB supported qualifications.
The CPA’s mapping and survey of existing training provisions show that a great deal is already being done by manufacturers of construction products to advance the skills and training of the supply chain workforce. For example, a 2015 survey of the CPA’s largest company members revealed that these firms alone train on average more than 20,000 people through 3,500 courses per year. Most of this training, however, is self-funded, in-house, informal and does not lead to nationally recognised qualifications.
‘Skills Report 2015’ shows there is a clear opportunity for the construction products industry to place product user training on a more formal footing. By establishing a recognised training process, manufacturers would not only have greater confidence that their materials and products are being installed correctly by qualified individuals, but the builders and tradespeople would be better trained, with more flexible and professional credentials; all of which should in turn improve productivity.
In 2016 the CPA together with the CITB are testing a new process to align training to qualifications where those already exist. Additionally, we are studying the provision of further information, advice and guidance on other avenues of support available so that companies and trade associations can expand and grow their relationship with relevant Sector Skills Councils.
The future of construction also relies upon securing an inspired, motivated ‘next generation’ of talent; engaging with young people and enabling them to realise the sheer diversity and potential offered by careers in the built environment. Our 2014 and 2015 surveys of members revealed a very proactive industry that is reaching out and offering opportunities to young people:
Aggregate Industries’ 4000+ UK employees are dedicated to the production and supply of construction materials, including aggregates, asphalt, ready-mixed concrete and blocks. To educate young people about the industry and the diverse range of careers available within it, AI has developed ‘Futurepath’, an extensive scheme that includes Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeships; Higher Apprenticeships in Mineral Products Technology and NVQ General Discipline courses.
Young Enterprise Programmes, supporting the UK’s largest business and education charity, help students as young as four through ‘learning by doing’, while work experience opportunities – from industrial and summer vacation placements, to part-time work and voluntary activities – offer invaluable insight and experience.
Part of the world’s largest chemical company and manufacturer of raw materials, formulations and systems for energy-efficient and sustainable construction, BASF UK operates from 18 UK facilities and employs 2000 people.
Staff members volunteering as ‘STEM Ambassadors’ are supported in a range of activities designed to inspire young people, from employer talks and careers fairs, to motivational speakers, college and university visits, coaching and mentoring.
BASF UK’s chemical plants host ‘Chemistry at Work’ open days, where students can meet with chemists, participate in workshops and learn the roles played by BASF products in everyday life.
‘BASF House’ at the University of Nottingham is a learning hub for sustainability and energy efficiency ideas for the home.
CEMEX is a global manufacturer of building materials, with a 3,000-strong UK workforce providing aggregates, cement, ready-mixed concrete and rail sleepers from over 450 facilities nationwide.
CEMEX UK strives to connect with communities and young people across its vast network of facilities. Notable successes include a decade of supporting an Engineering Education Scheme in Rugby, where young people are encouraged into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Year 12 students are tasked with completing a real engineering project over seven months and CEMEX provides materials, resources, funds and volunteer engineers to assist and assess the students.
With over 45 manufacturing sites, 1000 branches and 17,500 staff in the UK, Saint-Gobain UK designs, manufactures and distributes a wide variety of building products, from windows and photovoltaic glass to insulation, water systems and solar solutions.
Committed to the development of young people, Saint-Gobain actively supports education and career-choice with factory tours, work placements, apprenticeships, training academies, mentoring and partnerships with local colleges and students in construction courses. Like many Construction Products Association members, Saint-Gobain is also a strong supporter of local charities, particularly those for educational programmes and disadvantaged youth.
A visit from Prince Charles in 2010 to Tata Steel UK’s North Lincolnshire base inspired the structural steel, roofs, walls, light steel, foundations and highway engineering specialist to launch ‘Industrial Cadets’, a programme promoting careers in manufacturing to pupils aged 11-19.
The eight week curriculum, delivered at a number of schools around Tata Steel sites, includes hands-on team challenges, site visits, presentations and talks, interactive workshops and project work, culminating in the British Science Foundation’s CREST Award. Testament to its success, 20 other companies including Airbus, BAE Systems, Glaxo Smith Kline and Jaguar Land Rover have subsequently gone on to adopt the ‘Industrial Cadets’ initiative.
CPA Trade Associations
Our 40 trade association members are proactive in reaching out to young people and promoting careers in construction. Some, such as the Brick Development Association, Contract Flooring Association, Mineral Products Association and British Woodworking Federation, lead the way in organising training academies, shaping qualifications, offering financial assistance and advising on job opportunities.
The Builders Merchants Federation typifies such efforts at a grassroots level.
With over 450 members around the UK, ranging from SMEs to multi-nationals, BMF addresses the unique contributions made by knowledgeable, professional merchants and retailers between manufacturers of construction products and the tradespeople who are their customers.
BMF initiatives include recruitment open days, an array of Apprenticeship schemes and further training such as Diplomas, Degree courses and even a Post Graduate Diploma leading to a Masters Degree.