The funding has been granted for an ‘Onsite Experience Project’ from 2021 to 2023. It will enable the town’s dedicated skills centre to build a lasting legacy for the region’s construction industry by filling workforce gaps and providing new employment opportunities. Training programmes and on-site work experience will develop skills in drylining, plastering, rendering and painting – delivered by education partner City College Plymouth, with support from South Devon College and Plymouth Construction Training Group.
The creation of the £370,000 centre and the Sherford Skills Training Scheme was funded by the Sherford Consortium – a partnership between Taylor Wimpey and Vistry Partnerships, which includes Linden Homes and Bovis Homes. Opening its doors in 2018, the training centre has supported the training and development of over 100 apprentices, supported armed service leavers, helped create over 280 jobs, and offered its users the opportunity to retrain and upskill across trades.
Learning professional quality skills, course participants benefit from the guidance of expert mentors, as well as gaining insights into the industry from Sherford’s award-winning housebuilders and team of local contractors. From aiding new entrants with apprenticeship training, to dedicated courses for veterans, the skills centre opens doors of opportunity to anyone looking to begin a career in construction.
Guided through every stage, participants are even offered support in finding employment, with networking events a part of every course. A valuable chance to meet and speak with leading local employers, the course has helped many participants find their first step towards employment. Many standout students have been offered jobs with Sherford’s local contractors, giving them a chance to share their passion and specialist skills to contribute to this new community.
Bradley Davison, Managing Director of Vistry Partnerships South West, part of the Sherford Consortium, said: “We are dedicated to supporting skills and training, so we are extremely proud that Sherford Skills Training Centre has been recognised for the positive opportunities it provides. We are completely committed to supporting the region and its construction industry – and we are also deeply passionate about helping people pursue a rewarding career.”
Steven Ricketts, Sherford Skills Training Scheme Coordinator, added: “We are over-the-moon to have received CITB funding, so that we can continue to offer specialist training and support to the South West right here at Sherford. It is so rewarding to see so many of our graduates go on to find their dream job and to know that, in return, they are strengthening the future of the industry and having a positive impact on the region.”
After 22 years of being posted to various locations across the UK, Zoe took the decision to retire from the Army and make a permanent home for her family in the South West. Unsure of the next step in her career, it was an unfulfilled ambition that led Zoe to the Building Heroes course at Sherford. Grabbing the opportunity with both hands, it wasn’t just skills that Zoe gained from the experience but the chance to finally achieve her goal.
Running in partnership with national charity Building Heroes, Sherford Skills Training Centre, Vistry Partnerships and Train4All, the fully funded course helps service leaver and veterans find a fresh start in construction. The course offers the opportunity to gain highly sought-after skills and participants can achieve Level 1 Construction Skills and Health and Safety qualifications.
Zoe, said: “You don’t realise that you’ve been in this protected bubble, it’s so easy to feel lost. When I left the Army, I was in that difficult transition phase, with no idea of what I wanted to do next. Before I joined the Armed Forces, I tried to get an apprenticeship in construction, but there just wasn’t an opportunity for me. Building Heroes has given me a second chance, my life has had a big turnaround.
“It’s the best course I could have gone on. They didn’t just teach us the hands-on skills we needed, in just a few weeks they changed how we all felt. It gave us a positive outlook on life, knowing that you can have a second career. It’s there, you’re ready, you just have to go out and get it.”
Taking place over five weeks, the in-depth course helps participants to gain a variety of skill sets and create industry quality work across a range of construction trades. With guidance from the course tutors, practical assessments include everything from tiling and fitting radiators, to the construction of stud walls and basic plumbing.
“Our instructor Grant Johnson, from Train4All, and Steve Ricketts, from Sherford Skills Training Centre, were amazing. They made sure that we were confident with everything and that we were well supported throughout. The whole environment was so encouraging, and no one struggled because we all helped each other out. I feel confident with everything I’ve learnt, so much so, that I’m going to work on my own house. Start by completely redoing the bathroom, putting up a stud wall, really make it our home.”
Proud to offer the first course in Plymouth, 60% of learners at Sherford Skills Training Centre are former members of the Armed Forces. Utilising all of the resources available, the Centre introduces course participants to industry leaders, including those who have contributed to the Sherford development. Encouraged by her tutors, it was during this part of the programme that Steve Hoskin Construction caught Zoe’s attention.
“I got to meet them on the course, sent them my CV, went to a couple of interviews, and got the job offer I wanted – it was amazing. The course helped me find exactly what I wanted to do and gave me the introduction I needed. I enjoyed everything we learnt throughout the course, to be fair I loved every single day, but the health and safety side became the one thing that I really wanted to do. So, I’m really excited to be starting my career as a Health and Safety Advisor, I can’t wait to be part of their team.
“There’s definitely no chance of me feeling lost now, what with being busy in my new job and all the projects I’m going be doing at home. I can’t wait!”
Aimed at helping both current and ex armed forces members to learn valuable skills in the construction industry, the Building Heroes course at Sherford sparked the interest of DIY novice, Mark. Reaching a milestone of 11 years of service in the Marines, the Corporal hoped the course would at least teach him the skills he needed to work on his own property, yet what was actually provided exceeded all his expectations.
Building Heroes is delivering the course in partnership with Sherford Skills Training Centre, Vistry Partnerships and Train4All. The five-week programme offers a helping hand into a new career, with learners ultimately gaining Level 1 Construction Skills and Health and Safety qualifications under the guidance of specialist instructors
With supportive tutoring, the course has provided Mark with hands-on training across all major construction trades. From plumbing and bricklaying, to carpentry and rendering, each detailed class has given Mark the opportunity to perfect practical skills and to produce industry quality work
Mark, said: “I’ve surprised myself, I didn’t think that I could do what I can now. Honestly, I didn’t know anything when I arrived, now I’m shocked at the level of work we’ve done and the level of knowledge we’ve gained. We’ve dived into the syllabus and learnt far more than just the basics, I now feel like I could do anything.
“The course has gone above and beyond my expectations, from the environment and the tools, to the support of the Building Heroes charity and the instructors. In particular, Steve Ricketts from the Sherford Skills Training Centre and Grant Johnson of Train4All, can’t do enough for us, the whole team deserves so much credit.”
The course also provided Mark with the opportunity to meet various industry professionals, including the award-winning housebuilders responsible for Sherford’s development. Shining a light on how participants could apply their new professional skillsets, the meetings also provided a chance to understand more about the industry and what career opportunities were available within the sector.
“I started out wanting to gain some skills so that I could do a bit of DIY and to think about whether construction was an option for me, but now, I’m fully determined to pursue a career as a construction manager. The people that I’ve met have really opened my eyes, I now feel that I can offer something outside of the service – something that I didn’t feel confident about before.
“I honestly believe that the course has been so successful due to the collective support provided by Building Heroes, Train4All and Sherford. Their roles and how they have worked together to help us achieve the level that we are at has meant that the course isn’t just about learning a bit of plastering. Instead, it’s about being in the environment, meeting the people and learning the professional skills, so that you can see the opportunities that are open to you. I’ve not shut up about the course since I started, I’m already encouraging other people to take part!”