Keeping Training High on the Agenda

As the demand for skilled workers in the construction industry continues to rise, Richard Kendrick, Marketing Manager at SIG Roofing, looks at the training opportunities available that could help to close the existing skills gap and bring more people into the industry.

The lack of proper training is a key factor in the current skills shortage faced by the construction industry, not least in the roofing sector. As we recover from the impact of the 2008 financial crash, we’re seeing a steep increase in demand for skilled labour that our current workforce is unable to meet. With ambitious targets laid out in the government’s Construction 2020 scheme – which aim to reduce costs by 33% and product delivery times by 50% by 2020, all the time increasing output significantly – closing the skills gap is more critical than ever.

However, with the government pledging to invest significantly into apprenticeship training, and multiple training programmes available from the likes of industry bodies, manufacturers and colleges, it is possible to get new and existing roofers the training they require to develop the skills the industry so desperately needs.

So what are the options?

Apprenticeships

The obvious way to increase the skilled talent in the industry is to recruit more young people. Under plans set out by the government in 2016, businesses with a pay bill of less than £3 million per year (approximately 98% of UK businesses) will have 90% of their apprenticeship costs funded by an apprenticeship levy. The levy will be paid by those with a pay bill of more than £3 million, at 0.5% of their total annual pay bill per year. This means that apprenticeships are now much more feasible for businesses of all sizes.

The new schemes combine classroom study with time spent on site with a roofing company, providing the practical and theoretical knowledge required for achieving the relevant qualification. Apprenticeships are run through colleges all over the country in partnership with employers keen to take on young apprentices and train them up through their ranks. The colleges offer ongoing support for both apprentices and employers and are responsible for awarding the final qualification.

On-site assessment and training (OSAT)

For experienced roofers, on-site assessment and training (OSAT) is a cost-effective method of bringing skills up to the industry’s national occupational standards. Whilst many roofers may have learned their craft through experience alone, it is important to invest in proper standardised training in order to ensure they are compliant with health and safety legislation and are able to prove their competence. OSAT is available through colleges, regional roofing training groups, manufacturers, contractors, national construction college courses and mobile rigs.

Specialist Upskilling Programme (SUP)

The specialist upskilling programme is run through Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) training providers and is designed for roofing workers with no formal skill but some basic site experience. It gives them the opportunity to learn a formal skill through the combination of classroom study and/or on-site training and experience. The training can last for up to 12 months, and upon successful completion, the operative could attain an N/SVQ Level 2 and qualify for a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card.

Manufacturer training opportunities

Most roofing materials and equipment manufacturers hold their own training programmes to bring roofing workers up to speed on how to correctly use the products, in turn minimising risk and increasing competence. There are manufacturer courses available for different areas of the industry, including for pitched roofs, flat roofs and industrial roofs, along with specific equipment training too. Often the courses will take place on-site at a manufacturer’s main facility, or they can also take place at colleges too. The qualifications obtained upon completion can differ from course to course, but all come with the same advantage of strengthening skills in a specific area and proving competence when using the relevant equipment, which can be crucial in setting you apart from your competitors.

For more information about SIG Roofing, please visit www.sigroofing.co.uk or follow @sigroofing on Twitter.