Strengthening slating skills together

A partnership between leading industry bodies is set to reduce the roofing slate skills shortage by improving the standard of slate training in colleges across the UK.

The government’s target to build a million new homes by 2020 has set a challenge to all of us working in the construction industry. How do we maximise efficiencies, save time and deliver on this ambitious goal? It’s a good question.

One thing that is certain – to meet the target we need to make sure we have the right know-how in place. That means bridging the skills gap developing in construction as workers retire and we lose their experience and knowledge.

Through the SIG Roofing Academy the industry is addressing the situation by supporting education – through development of the curriculum, providing lectures and product supply for NVQ Level 1 & 2 Slating & Tiling courses throughout the UK. The Academy brings together key industry bodies such as the NFRC, CITB, local colleges, SIGA Natural Slate and SIG Roofing, all sharing their experience and knowledge to support colleges with slate skills development. The aim is to strengthen the education and training offered to students so they can have more specialist and specific slating skills. It is a great example of the industry coming together to reduce the skills shortage now and in the future.

By SIG Roofing supplying SIGA Natural Slate to a number of colleges offering NVQ Level 1 & 2 Slating & Tiling courses, the Academy will help dramatically improve the amount of time students can spend working with the material itself. This is currently limited due to the cost of the slate, which colleges have to fund themselves. The expense means slate training is a lower priority and so receives less practical time than other roofing products.

Slate is a particular roofing discipline in itself and requires a more advanced knowledge and skill set than some other areas. The supply of SIGA Natural Slate for the SIG Roofing Academy means the colleges can dedicate more time to increase the skills of their students and help reduce the skills gap. It also means they won’t have to fund costly student mistakes themselves! This practical learning provides techniques, tangible experience in real life situations, knowledge and access on an entirely new level. In addition the colleges will help train SIG Roofing staff in practical hands-on workshops and provide refreshers on construction techniques and material usage – further improving the knowledge within the industry. It’s a partnership where everyone wins.

As well as the enhanced practical skills gained from exposure to the actual product, SIG Roofing are working with SIGA and the CITB to improve the classroom learning for students. By mapping the SIGA Natural Roofing Slate Effective Specification CPD into the curriculum, students will gain a much deeper understanding of slate in general, an increased awareness of the industry, market trends and the selection process. This valuable content gives students additional knowledge about Natural Slate over and above what they master in the practical learning, including:

  • What natural slate is
  • The quarry process
  • How to judge slate quality
  • How to buy slate
  • How to select the right slate for a given project
  • Legislation and British Standards
  • Market trends

SIG Roofing are also supporting the curriculum by giving lectures and tutorials to share their vast slate industry knowledge. This is a vital investment in our industry and our future roofers and will create a work force that is better skilled, more knowledgeable, and with a wider specialist skill set. Students can also go on to compete in SkillBuild, with the winners earning the right to participate in WorldSkills UK.

  • NFRC is the UK’s largest roofing trade association, representing over 70% of the roofing industry by value.
  • The Construction Industry Training Board is a partner in the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • SIG Roofing is the largest UK specialist roofing merchant, providing impartial and expert advice.
  • SIGA Natural Slate is the largest supplier of natural slate in the world, with a direct connection to their quarries.
  • Colleges involved in the Academy are Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Bolton, Birmingham, Erith (London) & St Austell.