Local people are learning specialist skills for essential work to maintain the country’s infrastructure, thanks to new training funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
Working in partnership with City of Wolverhampton College and employment agency Randstad, the WMCA is funding a bespoke training course on operating specialist on-site machinery.
As part of its region-wide response to the Covid-19 shutdown, the WMCA is equipping local people with the skills needed to gain jobs in sectors like infrastructure and construction that are considered to be key in driving the region’s economic recovery and future growth when the lockdown is lifted. Many of these sectors are recruiting new workers right now.
Learners on the WMCA-funded course
The course is funded through the WMCA’s Construction Gateway programme, which offers unemployed people free construction training and a guaranteed job interview at the end of the course.
Over the past month, 48 learners have already signed up to join the course, which is aimed at those who have previous experience in construction.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “When our region recovers from the Covid-19 shutdown, the construction sector and infrastructure projects will be crucial in driving the economy.
“I am therefore very pleased that we are gearing up for this by expanding our Construction Gateway training now.
“The aim of this new training course is that by learning how to use specialist equipment, local people will gain long-term employment and carry out essential work across the region, which will play a major part in our economic recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.”
Having worked as a general labourer in the rail industry previously, 26-year-old Tom Clark seized the opportunity to learn new skills and improve his employment prospects by signing up for the course.
Tom said: “I’d heard lads I know talk about the training and I knew that if I developed industry-specific specialist skills, I’d be more employable and I’d also be able to earn more.
“I’ve just started working shifts, which is great, as in the current climate, without these new skills it’s likely I wouldn’t have found employment. I know that as I gain more experience and skills my confidence will grow even more.
“I’ve really enjoyed the course and, while some parts have been challenging, the trainers have been really supportive and helped me to progress.”
Malcolm Cowgill, principal at City of Wolverhampton College, said: “We are delighted that City of Wolverhampton College has been able to continue training in the current conditions, helping to ensure that rail workers are upskilled and as a result able to gain valuable work on key infrastructure projects.”
David Carns, rail director for Randstad Construction, Property and Engineering Recruitment, said: “This is a great example of how we are working in partnership with the WMCA and City of Wolverhampton College to increase employment opportunities in critical work across the country’s infrastructure sector.”
Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “It’s fantastic to see new training taking place here in Wolverhampton, helping local people to find jobs in sectors that are looking for workers right now.”
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, added: “Although the Covid-19 shutdown has had an immediate impact on the construction sector, there are new jobs that urgently need to be filled in other sectors, including infrastructure.
“We are working with training providers across the region to help employers recruit the workforce they need in these challenging times.”
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.