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ONE COLLEGE’S QUEST TO ADDRESS THE SKILLS SHORTAGES IN ROOFING

As the construction industry continues to grow, skilled, committed workers are more sought after than ever before, and it is essential that any skills shortages are addressed through the ongoing training and development of talented young roofers, who have a passion and dedication for the trade.Contractors need qualified roofers that can be trained professionally whilst also working on-site.

Curriculum Manager Steve Connell from Leeds College of Building – the only specialist further and higher education construction College in the UK – understands just how much roofing businesses can benefit from sending their new recruits to College.

Steve says: “The majority of the companies that send their apprentices to us receive financial grants and funding to support the training of young roofers. Currently we have more than 70 apprentices from all over the country that work for large businesses employing hundreds of people, right through to smaller family run roofing firms and sole traders taking on their first ever apprentice.

“What all of these businesses have in common, is a desire to access quality training that ultimately saves them time and money. All the apprentices that come to Leeds College of Building are working towards a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification that takes either two or three years to complete. Everyone on our course is employed and their employers all see huge benefits from them learning with us. “We currently teach roof slating and tiling in five groups with the apprentices all working to an industry approved framework that covers a technical diploma certificate, an NVQ competence qualification and a functional skills qualification covering numeracy and literacy.

“The courses are very well thought of by the industry, which supports us wholeheartedly with a wide range of sponsorship, so that our students can visit slate quarries, roofing manufacturer’s factories to see first-hand how the products they work with are produced. Materials, tools and equipment are also generously supplied by a host of commercial businesses, so that our students are able to use some of the very best tools of the trade as they learn.

“At the College we have 19 rigs all set up in huge workshops so that students can learn on the job without making costly on-site mistakes! In fact, our facilities are so impressive that the regional heats of SkillBuild - the UK’s largest and longest running multi-trade competition which recognises the very best construction talent in the country – chose to host their competition at our College. We were delighted to showcase the excellent facilities we have for roofers, and the fact that roofing students from Leeds College of Building took all three top places in the roofing competition this year was the icing on the cake!

“We have two full time tutors here at the college, and all three have contributed massively to us becoming known as a centre of excellence for roofing. We attract more roofing apprentices than any other educational establishment in the country and have students from as far afield as Nottingham, Crewe, Mansfield and Gainsborough. Our managing agents constantly visit building, housing and roofing firms all over the UK to explain what we can do to help train the young roofers of the future.

“Every one of our students spends 12 weeks in total at the College plus one further week being assessed on-site, every year of their training. They finish their course with a CITB delivered national curriculum qualification in roof slating and tiling, and many continue after the standard two years to do a third year, or go even further signing up for a BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment which is a bridging course to progress onto the HNC or HND.

“The feedback we receive from employers and students is always incredibly positive, with all parties seeing the benefit in working with Leeds College of Building. We are very privileged to be involved in such a dedicated and talented industry and its so rewarding to see the progress of our students and the positive impact of their learning, on the businesses they work for.

“We are now also starting to train a second generation of apprentices, with two former apprentices who have both set up very successful roofing businesses, now sending us their young recruits, which is the ultimate endorsement of what we do.”

Ian McCarthy who set up Yorkshire Heritage Roofing in 2011 was an apprentice at Leeds College of Building for three years. He says: “I thoroughly valued and enjoyed my time at Leeds College of Building and can wholeheartedly recommend the high levels of quality training and support I received.

“Roofing is a skilled business, which can often also be a real labour of love, especially when working on heritage projects like I have done for the National Trust and English Heritage. It’s therefore really important that young roofers get the very best start, by learning from experts in their field.

“It’s why I now send my apprentices to Leeds College of Building, I know how good the teaching is, how much benefit they gain from being entered into the competitions they organise and put you forward for, and ultimately how it benefits my business. Having well-trained apprentices that won’t make their mistakes on the job, but in the workshops at college is also a real bonus!”

Steve adds: “With over 70 apprentices in training with us this year, our courses have never been as popular, and we are confident that we will be able to help address skills shortages in the industry by continuing to train even more quality professional roofers next year.” 


For more information about Leeds College of Building and its courses visit www.lcb.ac.uk or call 0845 129 7857.

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