Gareth Dunn, Service Innovation Director at British Gypsum discusses the industry-wide skills shortage, highlights what the company is doing to encourage people to consider a job in construction, and provides an insight into how it is helping to develop the skills of those within the industry.
We all know that the construction industry is facing an industry-wide skills shortage, with employers facing particular challenges when it comes to finding skilled labourers. The ageing workforce, Brexit and the pandemic have all had a huge impact on the UK construction sector, so it is more important than ever before that we do our part to encourage skilled, competent workers into the sector to help produce high quality building works across the country.
In response to the decline of our workforce, we have spoken to UK federations and partner construction customers, reviewed our current training offering and developed a new proposition to meet the current demands within the sector. As part of this review, we have changed the way we deliver training in our network of UK Academies and have recently launched a new six-week course to support the plastering trade and the wider industry in its prolonged time of need.
Our Site Ready Skimming Course has been developed with the objective to support our partner construction customers retain and develop the skills of existing employees by upskilling their drylining tapers, plastering labourers, general labourers, or employees with basic trowel skills, to be able to skim plasterboard on site and help produce better outcomes.
In addition to supporting those currently working in the industry, it also provides the missing link between finishing college and being site ready. By working closely with our college partners around the UK to encourage those that are looking at going into the industry to complete the six-week course after graduating from college, we can help level up student’s skills with the experience, confidence and professionalism needed to make an immediate impact on site.
The course allows students to undertake practical training in the key skills required for skimming plasterboard, helps prepare them for roles within the industry and work to tight deadlines. Therefore, plastering large areas with a consistent, high-quality finish to represent commercial projects is a key area covered. The course also covers the correct use of the latest plastering tools and methods as well as identifying bad practice, which is more vital than ever before.
On completion of the course, all participants will complete their comprehensive final assessment to test all the skills they have developed over the six-week period, and demonstrate they are able to produce a volume of finished work in one day.
The course is focused on training students to the highest standard in a timely fashion – in response to the ever-present urgent need for skilled workers. We aim to not just help develop their physical trade skills, but also their confidence and required professionalism to enable a pro-active impact on site from the very beginning.
By supporting individuals, we are also supporting contracting businesses in the commercial and residential sectors in sourcing skilled employees who are ready and willing to work. 90 per cent of those who have completed the course have now gone on to work in the industry*.
One example of how the course has supported sub-contractors is in its endorsement by Taylor Hart. When initially speaking to the Managing Director, Phil Lewis, he had his reservations on the course on who it was best suited to and how it could support his business. However, after he attended one of our academies he was impressed and offered two members of the cohort trial employment. Both recruits are now actively working in industry, putting everything they learnt on the course to good use.
To help support the continuous development of those that complete the course, students are given direct access to our resident plasterers for additional support if needed, and they also receive a new tool kit so they are able to start work on site immediately.
The skills shortage is just one of the challenges facing the UK construction industry at the moment and it will continue to be the case if we don’t come together and help combat it. I am incredibly optimistic about what the future will bring, and we are dedicated to doing everything we can to help retain skilled workers in the industry and encourage more people to take up jobs within the sector.
For more information about British Gypsum’s Site Ready Skimming Course, please visit https://www.british-gypsum.com/technical-advice/training/about-our-courses/full-range-of-courses/site-ready-skimming-courses
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