Aaron Davis, head of skills and training at Flannery Plant, describes his company’s efforts to plug the skills gap for site operatives.
The way we construct and interact with buildings has evolved over the years, and with it so have the skills required by those working in the construction industry. The past few years have not been easy for businesses. SMEs in the industry have reported multiple challenges, especially when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff with the right skills. In fact, the Government’s recent Skills Horizon Barometer revealed that 40% of SMEs in England within the construction industry struggle to recruit staff with the right skills.
At Flannery Plant, we developed a Skills Bootcamp in Plant Operations in partnership with the Department for Education to proactively help address skills needs within our business and the wider industry. This is a free course open to both adults (aged 19 and over) keen to enter the sector, and current plant operators looking to enhance their skills. The Skills Bootcamp guarantees an interview with an employer on completion. The shorter and more intense nature of the course means they can be beneficial to employers who want to upskill staff quickly but effectively.
We’re hugely proud to have spear-headed the first entirely employer-delivered Skills Bootcamp. Our involvement in the development of the course meant we could shape it to help individuals get the skills and qualifications they need and deliver talent to plug our specific skills gaps.
It took six months – from conception to delivery – to create the course. We worked closely with the Department for Education in this process, who helped us promote the Skills Bootcamp through their channels.So how does it all work? Well, the Skills Bootcamp in Plant Operations runs in two-week cycles and individuals are typically self-referred, through looking for work or referral by their employers. It’s a 77-hour guided course, and once complete, individuals receive a certification in one or two machine categories.
Operating construction plant machinery requires incredibly specialist training and is vital to our operations and growth. Our investment in training has been greatly beneficial to us, allowing us to build a steady pipeline of recruits who are equipped with the specialist knowledge and skills needed to become crucial parts of the workforce. We have also found that the qualification achieved through our Skills Bootcamp is an effective foundation for learning among employees. After they complete the Skills Bootcamp, they can opt to do an Apprenticeship to specialise further or to master a different type of machinery.
Our Skills Bootcamp is part of a much wider offering of courses through the Department for Education’s Skills for Life, with free Skills Bootcamps in different industries from digital and tech to the green sector. The ‘Skills for Life’ campaign showcases hundreds of government-funded skills opportunities helping adults to make the right choice for them, to support them to get a better job at any stage of life.We have had a 78% achievement rate producing site-ready plant operators with the remaining requiring further training and testing to achieve the standard we and other employers require; it is not about attendance. And as a testament to our success, we’ve now been granted another 12-months’ funding by the Department for Education to continue delivering the Skills Bootcamp.
It’s more important than ever for employers to take the initiative and be creative in their recruitment methods in order to attract and retain the skilled employees they want and need. At Flannery Plant, the Skills Bootcamps offer is part of a range of tools that help us to do this effectively. We hope to inspire more businesses across the industry to understand the benefits of the array of training and employment schemes available designed to help employers effectively grow their workforce, fill their skills gaps, and hire the right people they need for the job.
To find training and employment schemes to keep your business moving, please visit: https://find-employer-schemes.education.gov.uk