Craig Phillips said: "When Ian first told me about his idea for the Academy I thought he was spot on. There is an alarming skills crisis in the country when it comes to construction and if we can help to highlight what a wonderfully rewarding career it can be, I'm sure we can do our bit to get Britain building again. I look forward to meeting Derby College staff, potential learners and all who are part of this fantastic concept."
The innovative learning academy will be launched in September to tackle the skills shortages facing the construction industry.
Ian Hodgkinson, who owns Hodgkinson Builders in Pride Park, will work with the College to launch The Hodgkinson Brickwork Academy at Derby College’s campuses in Ilkeston and the Roundhouse in Pride Park, Derby. As well as teaching practical brickwork skills and theory studies, learners will benefit from individual support and mentoring from Mr Hodgkinson and his team, practical work experience and a guaranteed interview with the company at the completion of their one or two year course.
Mr Hodgkinson explained: “We have politicians on all sides promising great house building programmes but, at the present rate, we will struggle to find the people to build them.This is both a threat to the economy but also a huge opportunity for those learning a trade, especially brickwork. We can and must do something about this. This is where our new academy comes in. I’ve worked with Derby College on their Employment and Skills Board and always been very impressed by their facilities and their teaching. If we can bring business experience and their programmes together, we can create a pipeline of ‘oven-ready’ apprentices. Working together, we will produce a new generation of talented, ambitious, motivated and highly skilled bricklayers who can bridge this skills gap. This is a partnership of huge potential.”
Derby College Business Development Director April Hayhurst continued: “As a College we are committed to working with employers to ensure that the skills we are developing in young people today are those required by businesses in the future. Our aim is to help smooth the transition from education to employment and with that, fill a skills gap that this country so badly needs. This will build on the current Construction programme - taking an innovative master-class approach with a major influence from one of the leading contractors in the industry. We will be working with Ian and his team in a cohesive partnership using blended delivery to help our students develop tangible life and trade skills. They will regularly experience a real ‘day in the life’ of a bricklayer and ultimately have a vastly improved chance of landing a well-paid job at the end of their time in the academy.”
Whilst the Hodgkinson Brickwork Academy is focusing on skills, the partners have their eyes firmly set on the return that is the most crucial - jobs. Every single learner on the course will be guaranteed a minimum of an interview with Ian and ultimately, Ian hopes to employ as many as possible once qualified to NVQ level 2/3.
Ian concludes: “This approach to training will have a positive effect on the local and national economy. Our aim is to build a future workforce for the UK. A workforce that has the academic, technical and life skills to thrive in the modern workplace. We are at a critical point in terms of the skills base in the country. The demand for housing has never been higher but our ability to supply that demand is at a low ebb. We aren’t just talking, we are working in partnership to do something about it. The construction sector employs a huge number of people in the UK but it could be more. It is estimated that 30% of the current workforce will retire in the next two decades - opening up exciting job and promotion prospects for those starting out now. We will be looking to improve the image of the trade which can be criticised, often unfairly. It is actually a very safe, clean and fun place to work. Obviously it is also serious but it has incredible career prospects for everyone and that certainly includes women too - almost 200,000 work in the sector. It is well paid, you can travel the world, you can even build your own house! Imagine the sense of achievement these students will have when they can proudly point to a building and say ‘I built that’. Now is the time for businesses and educators to work together to deliver our next generation of talented and skilled workers. It is time to build our future on solid foundations.”