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ConstructionSkills and British Gypsum launch Dry Lining apprenticeship courses

ConstructionSkills and British Gypsum have this week launched three new Dry Lining apprenticeship courses at Academies in Kirkby Thore in Cumbria, East Leake in Loughborough and Erith in Kent. The course consists of a 12-week training course which will lead to the achievement of an NVQ2.

It is anticipated around 48 Dry Lining apprentices will be on the new courses by January 2008. The courses offer the training associated with a modern apprenticeship framework. The courses, titled the Dry Lining Fixer/Finishing training course, includes the 21 training modules requested by employers and the Federation of Plastering & Drywall Contractors (FPDC).

Jonathan Cherry of British Gypsum, says, "Through our partnership with ConstructionSkills we can offer high quality, good value training which helps to meet some of the demand for high calibre new entrants into this critical area of the construction industry.”

The introduction of these courses are part of a stream of measures introduced to help recruit and train the 4,000 plasterers and dry liners needed over the next five years.

Mike Bialyj, ConstructionSkills, Director of Advisory Services, said:

“Specialist trades play a crucial role in all construction work but training requirements can be very specialist and require tailored support. To this end we are working closely with the much-needed specialist sectors of our industry to further develop flexible, relevant training, and we aim to be responsive to changing requirements. Specialist training is often low in volume but high in costs. One way we are able to support this is through our Awarding Body who can coordinate new tailor-made qualifications in a short timeframe once the evidence and underpinning framework are in place.”

To qualify and support existing and new recruits in the Dry Lining sector, ConstructionSkills has established working partnerships with federation bodies including the Association of Interior Specialist (AIS) and the National Association of Shopfitters (NAS).

The Experienced Workers Practical Assessment (EWPA) is one such partnership developed with training providers in response to requests for support in assessing workers who have been in the industry for some time but have no qualifications. 1,000 free EWPA placements have been offered to the sector across four providers in Greater London and since January 2007, nearly 350 candidates have applied for the EWPA route.

Simon Forrester, AIS Chief Executive comments on these timely placements:

“The latest research from the National Specialist Contractors Council found that 40% of respondents reported they had been unable to bid for work due to labour shortages. Our membership has recently reached 430, so it is vital that we continue to train recruits into the specialist interior sector. ConstructionSkills is serious about supporting us in training the workforce, and we are working closely at a strategic level with them to accomplish this task."

On the specific training demands the sector faces, Robert Hudson, NAS, Director, adds:

"There is a significant difference between what we do in shopfitting and interior contracting and the mainstream sector of the construction industry. We have very clearly defined requirements particularly around the legal, moral and social responsibilities specific to the heath and safety of all our stakeholders, so it's vital we have the initiatives to ensure we can fulfil these needs."

In addition as a result of ongoing consultation with the FPDC, a number of new assessment and training initiatives are being introduced. The new load-bearing stud qualifications reflect evolving industry practice and the accreditation of in-house fibrous plastering training modules leading to an NVQ, currently being piloted by individual companies, are two examples of such developments.

As the sector grows and develops ConstructionSkills continues to work in close corroboration with it to ensure that there is the training available to meet their needs. Grant support is available to support registered companies with the cost of training. For more information on sector support call ConstructionSkills on 01509 282828.

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