Six apprentices complete their off-site training at Skills Academy

Lauren Forbes (HR Administration), Neil McIvor (Construction Director), Michael McCormack, Stewart Wark, Scott Wilson, Maureen Douglas (HR Director), Dylan Hamilton, Steven Mullan, Ryan Beaton and Lindsay Kemp (Training Supervisor). 

Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Lauren Forbes (HR Administration), Neil McIvor (Construction Director), Michael McCormack, Stewart Wark, Scott Wilson, Maureen Douglas (HR Director), Dylan Hamilton, Steven Mullan, Ryan Beaton and Lindsay Kemp (Training Supervisor). Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

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Six new apprentices have successfully completed their off-site training part of a new Modern Apprenticeship (NVQ) qualification in Roofing.

The qualification has been developed specifically for new-build housing, and the apprentices, who work for Forster Roofing in Brechin, received their certificates of achievement from the company’s construction director, Neil McIvor.

Forster launched its own in-house Skills Academy last year, to allow the company to take training into its own hands. Pioneered by Maureen Douglas, Group HR Director, the two-year integrated training programme combines on the job structured learning with contextualised off-site training at Forster’s purpose built training centre in Brechin.

Maureen Douglas, who is also a Board member of the Construction Industry Training (CITB), said: “To address the shortage of suitably skilled trades, we created the specialist modern apprenticeship with other roofing contractors supported by the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, CITB and South Lanarkshire College. We deliver the specialist apprenticeship from our own Skills Academy in two-week residential blocks. This allows our full-time trainer to embed the Forster standards of workmanship and enable the apprentices to complete their off-site training together. The programme has already been a resounding success and is being developed further to enable the up-skilling and re-skilling of experienced workers.”

At the end of last year Margo Williamson, strategic director at Angus Council, who oversees ‘schools and learning,’, met with the six apprentices (and training supervisor Lindsay Kemp), to discuss their experience of the programme.

The six apprentices - Michael McCormack, Stewart Wark, Scott Wilson, Dylan Hamilton Steven Mullan and Rayn Beaton - all hail from various parts of Scotland.

Michael, from Motherwell, said: “It’s a really good programme, as you get to learn new skills to take out on-site with you. The course also introduces you to other parts of the business, for example, Jamie, one of the surveyors, talked us through how to price a roof. The off-site part [of the training] is residential which means you get some time away from home, in a nice hotel, which lets you get to know the other apprentices and the people in the office. The company organises lots of different activities in the evenings - the go-karting and skiing were great fun.”

Another apprentice, Ryan Beaton, said: “I feel incredibly lucky to be on the Forster programme as I know a lot of young people are looking for training and skills to secure work. I’ve not seen a level of training like this anywhere else as the apprenticeship offers both on-site work with a one-to-one mentor and training in the Forster Academy. You get time to ask questions and work to your own pace as you learn, then put your new skills to practice on-site.”

In 2015 Forster Roofing took on a total of 12 modern apprentices through the newly-built Academy. With a further 12 apprentices to be taken on this year, the company is on-track to achieve its target of recruiting 24 apprentices before the end of 2016. This, as Maureen adds, “will ensure that the business continues to develop talent with the right skills and attitudes for the construction industry.”

Forster Roofing has created its own in-house Skills Academy that offers a Modern Apprenticeship (NVQ) qualification in new-build roofing. This two-year integrated training programme combines on the job structured learning with contextualised off-site training at Forster’s head office in Brechin, with trainer Lindsay Kemp who has over 25 years’ experience within the industry.

The qualification is the only of its kind to offer a wide range of roofing skills including solar installation, which is becoming increasingly sought after and offers huge potential for growth.

This qualification is designed specifically for new-build housing, and is supported by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the Scottish Building Apprenticeship and Training Council (SBATC).

Maureen Douglas pioneered the new Academy and has extensive experience in the construction industry spanning over a decade. Presently her role as Forster Group human resources director comprises of leading the strategy from board level, pioneering the organisation development, skills and training and health and safety programmes.