ABC Assessment Centre offers a ‘win-win’ outcome for trainee brickies and potential employer.
The trade association for the brick industry has launched a training programme aimed at upskilling candidates in a range of modern masonry techniques. The level of practical experience provided by the Association of Brickwork Contractors’ ABC Assessment Centre not only benefits the trainees themselves, it will encourage small-to-medium building firms to take on more apprentices, comfortable in the knowledge their protégé employee has a grasp of the on-site challenges awaiting them.
The shortage of bricklayers is a major issue for the industry, with a reported 64 per cent of businesses struggling to hire qualified workers. This, along with the well-documented skills deficiency throughout the entire building sector on account of fewer younger people feeling suitably enticed to join-up, highlights the importance of professionally-led training programmes to developing a new generation of trades men and women.
The ABC Assessment Centre is unique to the sector as it’s the first training provider to offer CITB-approved accreditation in relation to ancillary bricklaying processes. The short duration courses include practical and theoretical experience in brick-slip systems, fire barriers, brick soffits, windpost installation and masonry support angles. Hosted by experts with decades of brickwork experience who are available to carry out assessments on-site within a live working environment, skills learnt during the ABC programme will be added to candidates’ CSCS card, providing visible proof of their new-found expertise to current and future employers.
Simon Livett, Centre Manager at the ABC Assessment Centre, said: “The training programme is our response to industry demand for more, better-skilled operatives. Over the years, manufacturers have developed many fantastic aids for bricklayers, but there’s a growing feeling that onsite, the level of workmanship has not necessarily kept pace with the evolution of new products and brick-laying techniques. Therefore, in conjunction with our members, we’ve devised a training programme which offers expert-led instruction in a range of modern brickwork installations, as well as covering a variety of core competencies such as cavity formation, wall tie installation and the provision of expansion joints.”
The ABC Assessment Centre contains 16 short-duration courses. One and two-day programmes are available, with ‘background’ issues such as material storage and protection and the role of the bricklayer in the wider supply chain also covered within the training. In addition, manufacturer-led CPD training courses will offer trainees direct instruction from product designers and producers. Simon said although primarily aimed at contractors and current employees, the ABC Assessment Centre’s modern masonry programme is being rolled out to schools and colleges. A ‘demo wall’, which is currently in development, will allow students to gain hands-on bricklaying experience in their own learning environment. The ABC Assessment Centre is already established as a provider of high-quality NVQ onsite assessment to the construction sector.
Simon Livett continued: “We believe ABC Assessment Centre courses will not only benefit the candidates themselves in terms of upgrading their skillset and boosting their career development, they will provide a fillip for the bricklaying industry’s reputation as a whole. As the sector’s trade association, we felt incumbent to provide our members with the skills and experience to deliver projects to the highest-possible standard. The ABC Assessment’s modern masonry training programme is a manifestation of that aim.”
The level of hands-on experience offered by the ABC Assessment Centre is crucial to ensuring candidates are good to go when the opportunity arises in a professional setting. According to Tony Higson, Commercial Director at ACS Stainless Steel Fixings and a supporter of the ABC Assessment Centre since it was founded in 2018, said a past emphasis on theory, rather than practical-based training saw too many trainees fail to get a foothold in the industry because they were unprepared for their first real career step. “The problem with historic college courses is that the syllabus was not fit for purpose in terms of the modern-day bricklayer. Its format meant students were lacking knowledge of modern bricklaying methods. Therefore, when they arrived on site, their skillset fell short of requirements.”
Tony, whose company manufactures the ABC Assessment Centre’s Demo Wall, said trainees who complete the course will add value to any building firm that subsequently employs them in an apprentice capacity. “From day one they will be an asset to any employer,” he continued. “It won’t cost a building firm anything extra to hire them, and they’ll be recruiting a trainee who has real experience of the practice and environment that professional builders inhabit daily. It’s a win-win situation for the trainee and the business.”
To book an ABC Assessment Centre modern masonry training course, or for more information, visit https://bricktraining.co.uk/short-courses/