A new construction plant training centre at Dudley College of Technology will help unemployed local people start a new career in the industry, thanks to funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The centre in Brierley Hill will give adults the skills they need to work on major infrastructure projects in the region, such as the Midland Metro expansion, new business parks and cycle routes.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is funding training at the centre through the Construction Gateway, which offers unemployed people free construction training and a guaranteed job interview at the end of the course.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street (front, third from left) meets Neil Thomas, chief executive and principal at Dudley College of Technology (front, fourth from left), with partners and local people who are benefiting from the training
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, who opened the centre today, said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to help Dudley College of Technology give local residents the practical experience and qualifications they need to get the best possible start for a career in construction.
“We know the construction industry in the West Midlands will need 50,000 more trained staff by 2030, but there is a shortage of people with the right skills to fill these jobs.
“This investment in training shows our commitment to addressing the skills gap and giving our residents the opportunity to work on projects in their local area.”
The training centre will offer free plant operator and grounds worker training in a range of qualifications. This will include all learners gaining the ‘tickets’ they need to start work immediately on a construction site.
Training will be provided in four key industry areas: plant operations; groundworks and highways; logistics; and health and safety. It will include the use of construction vehicles such as 360° excavators, dumpers and telescopic handlers; how to lay foundations and pipework; and how to manoeuvre plant.
Learners will also have opportunities to be trained in the use of scaffolding at the college’s Construction Apprenticeship Training Centre (CAT) which is less than half a mile away.
Neil Thomas, chief executive and principal at Dudley College of Technology, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the WMCA to create this new facility to help tackle the skills shortage in plant operations for the construction industry.
“Construction training is a flagship element of the college’s provision, with hundreds of people undertaking training each year and this new centre adds to the £20 million investment we have already made in facilities for this important sector. By training local people, we can make sure they benefit from the many infrastructure developments taking place in the region, while also contributing to the visible transformation of their area.”
He added: “While it is early days for the plant training centre, which has only been up and running since November, we have had 100% success rate for the first group of learners with over 70% of them progressing directly into jobs and the remaining 30% going on to further technical training. Our intention is to train 200 people before July 2020, with the majority of these learners moving into work on significant projects in the region such as Midland Metro.”
Two of the learners from the first group, Ryan Burrows (aged 28) and Harvey Jukes (29), who had been out of work for many months before joining the scheme, now feel positive about re-entering work with the qualifications they have gained.
Commenting on his time on the programme, Ryan said: “It’s given me a new lease of life, with new opportunities I didn’t expect this time a year ago. I’m looking forward to getting back into work.”
Harvey added: “This experience has boosted my confidence so much that I will be looking to progress on to higher levels of study. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for new options who feels they have reached a dead end.”
To sign up for construction training, contact the National Careers Service West Midlands on 0121 296 5550, or you can find out more information about the National Careers Service via https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/ or by calling 0800 100 900.