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Constructing a better future through skills training

Photo courtesy of Construction Youth Trust

Building a better future for adults and young people who’ve slipped through the system is what the Construction Youth Trust is all about.  Its Budding Brunels programme offers three-day career awareness tasters to help school pupils to find out more about professions in the construction industry. Budding Builders, on the other hand, is aimed at unemployed adults and young people aged 14-30 to help them find jobs. It provides valuable work experience and an opportunity to learn new skills in a variety of different trades such as bricklaying, plastering and carpentry.

The charity has been running OCN London qualifications for three years with around 50 learners a year gaining qualifications, covering health and safety, work preparation and progression as part of these two programmes. There are four OCN London qualifications, covering health and safety, work preparation and progression.

Wendy Heller, a joiner by trade who started her career working in the film industry building sets, is the lead trainer and curriculum manager for the Budding Builders programme.  A great enthusiast for the industry, she is keen to encourage people, particularly women, to think about a career in the building trade.

“Most of our learners have never had a qualification so this makes a big difference; it  massively increases their self esteem. ‘You’re the only person who’s ever told me you’re proud of me’, are just some of the responses we get from our learners,” she says.  “Some of them love the work so much they keep their hard hats on when they go to lunch.”

Wendy knew that OCN London was the right organisation to work with. By having courses which are accredited the charity can access funds to buy equipment for hard-to-reach service users who aren’t ready for NVQs or apprenticeships.

The other programme, Budding Brunels, is managed by Tom Glover. With a skills shortage in the industry and a growing demand for construction workers this programme  offers pupils from diverse backgrounds, particular those from schools with a high percentage on free school meals, a chance at entering a career with very good prospects.

Tom explains that having a certificate is very useful for students when applying for jobs. But it’s also a tremendous confidence boost for them and, for many, the first step into a construction career.

“Lots of organisations offer soft-touch awareness schemes, but we’re able to give evidence of pupils attending one of our programmes and this can be a big factor in letting them out of school for a few days,” says Tom. But he emphasises that this is not a three-day ‘jolly’. “They get an OCN London accredited certificate for attending. Without the certificate it would be just a site visit. Instead, we can say ‘Look at what you’ve done’ and formalise it so they can use it as evidence of their interest in the industry.”

The charity is able to run schemes like Budding Builders and Budding Brunels because this aspect of its work is funded by employers in partnership. It’s also an excellent way for companies to boost their corporate social responsibility.