Could this be the way to end chronic skills shortages in roofing?

Time is running out for the construction industry if we seriously want to reverse chronic skills shortages and attract more young people into the building business. So what’s new about that - people have been saying much the same thing for more than 30 years, but with the lack of any joined up thinking, the situation continues to worsen according to Roz Richardson, Operations Manager at Proteus Waterproofing.

Fortunately it does seem that things might be changing – particularly in the roofing industry - thanks to an unusual alliance between one key manufacturer, together with a number of trade associations and mentoring professionals who are working together to provide direct training up to NVQ2 Level.

As a result, much of the admin hassle for contractors and other key roofing professionals has also been taken away; allowing them to release key staff for training whilst also ensuring that all essential funding can be claimed back. This makes it a win, win for contractors as it provides the opportunity to have qualified operatives working on site whilst also having their training costs covered – and it could not have come at a more important time.

Providing recognised training has never been more essential for anyone wanting access to a construction site. As of January this year (2020) it will be the last time that CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) cards will be renewed, before they are finally phased out in 2024 thus ending what has historically been termed ‘Grandfather Rights.’

In short – if you do not have an NVQ2, or equivalent, in the next few years you will struggle to get work. The need for a qualification to be recognised as skilled worked will not only apply new roofers, but also to many experienced operatives who could be denied access to a construction site without the correct formal qualifications – so what’s changing?

One manufacturer in particular – Proteus Waterproofing, based in Rayleigh, Essex – has taken the unusual decision to introduce training programmes in liquid waterproofing up to an NVQ2 level. Proteus are working in conjunction with the LRWA (Liquid Roofing Waterproofing Association) and the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) to be able to offer a Specialist Applied-skills Programme (SAP) in liquid roofing. The course is open to all roofing operatives, regardless of whether they are existing or potential Proteus customers.

This is a major departure for any roofing manufacturer who previously would only have been expected to provide training for the installation of its own products and systems - and surprisingly Proteus readily admit there is no direct business gain or financial advantage to the company by running such courses – so why do it?

“By working directly with the LRWA and CITB we will be giving something back to the roofing industry within our own particular market sector, and their involvement is testament to the quality of the training we will be providing” says Roz Richardson.

“We shall also be working closely with the Institute of Roofing, other independent trainers and will of course support in any way we can, the current NFRC initiative for RoofCERT hoping that our individual initiatives can develop into sustained joined up thinking to allow us as an industry to address training and skills shortages.”

Training the next generation has always been a bit of a lottery due to the fragmented nature of the construction industry, the wide range of skills needed and the reluctance by many contractors to release essential staff and undertake what is perceived to be complicated administration and ‘form filling.’

The programme consists of 24 days training (2 days a month), delivered in a modular approach, spread over a 12 month period. The modules cover a wide range of subjects from asbestos awareness to green roofs, solar panels to general health and safety issues and, of course, all of the chemistries in the Liquid Roofing marketplace. The candidates then need to demonstrate the skills they have learned during two on site assessments in the following 3 – 6 month period to gain their level 2 NVQ.

Proteus aims to start its first course in February with another planned in April and the cost for each candidate is £5,000. The CITB cover the first £4,000 with the employer making up the difference. This money can then be claimed back over a 12-month period with the employer receiving an additional £600 on completion. So, provided the operative is eligible then the course is fully funded, with no training costs for the employer.

So what happens now? Proteus are hopeful about the long-term future of such training and that their initiative will act as a catalyst and encourage other manufacturers and suppliers to follow suit.

“It is clear that the trade associations are keen to take this forward and with the support of manufacturers such as Proteus, using our experienced trainers, that it will be more than possible to address all future training issues,” said Roz. “Time is running out and we need to take action now.”

Call Roz on 01268 777871 to find out how you can benefit from this opportunity.

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