The UK has thousands of vacant properties and a huge shortage of construction skills. If newcomers could gain a wide range of skills, such as plastering, joinery, bricklaying, tiling, and fitting kitchens, bathrooms and windows, they could renovate and repair an empty house quickly and efficiently in small teams – and help plug the skills gap.
The only problem is the dearth of multi-skill training and assessors. With most trainers being specialists in a particular trade, it is hard to get assessors lined up to cover a multi-trade course.
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“Our local colleges didn’t have the resources to handle multi-skill training. And perceptions persist in the industry that you can only practise one trade properly,” says Michael Dickinson, B4Box’s Head of Development.
“It’s a chicken and egg problem. It’s hard to get multi-skills training because there aren’t many trainers and assessors who are multi-skilled.
“Lots of microbusinesses are multi-skilled already, but their people tend not to have the qualifications to show for it. It’s also very hard to recruit accredited multi-skilled trainers.
“So we decided do it ourselves and develop our own multi-skills training course in-house.”
Developing a multi-skill capability
Michael says the process would not have been possible without the help of £48,000 in CITB funding.The company found two existing highly experienced multi-skilled employees to train up as assessors.
They both successfully qualified; one became a full-time multi-trade construction trainer and assessor based in B4Box’s training centre, and the other combines those responsibilities with site supervision.
Now the company not only has the capability to train and upskill their workforce as and when it suits their specific needs, but is also a fully accredited regional multi-trade training provider.
The CITB funding also allowed them to train 6 new adult entrants as multi-skilled operatives. All of them were over 25 and two were over 40 – and at the time there was no state funding available to them for apprenticeships.
“One of them had been told by an employment adviser that he’d never work again. He thought he’d be on benefits for the rest of his life, but he’s now skilled, qualified and one of our team leaders.”