Keeping pace with trends
“We had workbooks that had been around for several years, so we wanted funding to update them and use them to disseminate information and best practice; to turn them into something useful,” says Andrew.
“Originally, colleges weren’t prepared to invest in courses they didn’t see a need for on the horizon. More off-site construction solutions are being sought now, and timber frame is by far and away the fastest growing.”
Following a successful application, CITB funding was used to develop high-quality, comprehensive digital workbooks covering the design and manufacturing of timber frame construction, from sourcing material to completion of a project.
The standardisation challenge
Available to members for download via the STA website, there are two sets of workbooks, comprising three volumes each: “knowledge”, “practical skills” and “health and safety”.
They outline crucial issues too, such as how modern methods of construction are adapting to environmental and political influences, as well as tackling the subjects of sustainability and durability through insulation and acoustics performance.
Content was developed in consultation with CITB and industry stakeholders. But STA selected Edinburgh Napier University to draft the content; with good reason. The university has an active relationship with the industry and its Centre for Offsite Construction and Innovative Structures carries out cutting-edge research. It also has a track record of publishing books on off-site construction, which contributed to the university winning the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2015.
Mila Duncheva, lead author of the workbooks and Associate Lecturer at the centre says: “It’s critical to address the skills gap in the industry and clearly map out what training exists and how it should be enhanced. We wanted to provide standardised knowledge so there’s only one source of information.
“Previously, materials on timber frame construction were very academic and disconnected. The main aim is to standardise the training available to people across country so there’s only one source of information in the industry and therefore achieve higher quality,” she says.