SPV Launches Industry-First Employer Led Roofing Training

IN AN INDUSTRY FIRST, roofing and cladding contractors SPV Group is taking its recruitment and training needs into its own hands by investing in a new training initiative at its premises in Walsall.

Students have just enrolled at the company’s newly-built, dedicated training hub for up to 20 school leavers. Here youngsters are training to gain a 24-week, Level 1 Introduction to Construction, with roofing- and cladding-specific experience. On successfully completing the course, trainees also gain a CSCS card allowing them to work on construction sites.

Introduction to roofing

Being delivered with Juniper Training, SPV Group is providing students with an introduction to all aspects of roofing, including both pitched and flat. The students will spend two days a week in the classroom with theory delivered by Juniper’s Curriculum Manager, Sam Rock and three days with SPV’s Martin Lawrence who has more than three decades’ worth of roofing experience and skills. Students will also receive tuition from SPV’s Cladding Surveyor, Paul Hearsey and Liquid Division Surveyor, Dean Smith.

Backed by the Midlands Roof Training Group, trainees will complete short courses in fire safety, manual handling, abrasive wheels and asbestos awareness. They can also resit Maths and English if required and will gain numerous transferable skills that will allow them to progress to a roofing apprenticeship or construction training or employment. As part of the course, students will also complete a two-week industry placement at another roofing company in the region.

Roofing prospects

As the driving force behind the initiative, Kate Whatley, SPV Group Commercial Director explains the benefits of this employer-led training for the 120-strong company, “Historically, SPV Group has suffered from the same recruitment problems as the wider roofing industry. Typically, young people and their parents have a poor perception of construction generally and roofing, with outdated stereotypes and a lack of awareness of the opportunities on offer.

“What most young people don’t realise is just what great prospects roofing offers. It’s well paid, offers excellent career progression for those who are keen and competent, allows for moving between trades, the opportunity to travel the country, as well as many other perks.  As an industry, we have to go out to youngsters and inform and engage them.

“Setting up the SPV Training Hub means we can address misconceptions and give young people a real-life taste of a career in roofing. It means we will have a pipeline of site-ready, motivated trainees ready to join the company and embark on a full roofing apprenticeship.

“At SPV, there are 29 different roles so these trainees have a wide choice of potential careers to aim at. We’ve also had tremendous interest from many other roofing and construction companies across the Midlands region and we have already mapped our students with a number of firms to provide more potential employment and training opportunities.”

Industry collaboration

Kate is keen to hone the project model with a view to it being scaled up and rolled out across other regions. She says, “We’ve already learnt so much and taken on board a lot of advice from industry experts. We’ve had brilliant collaboration from the industry, from training experts at Marley, Moy Materials, HD Sharman, BMI, Filon, Technonicol, Dreadnought, Midland Lead, Rowlands Roofing (leadwork), Polyglass, Genius Facades and Architectural Profiles– all of whom have supported us with training materials and other input. This level of interest and engagement from the industry shows the potential demand for more of this type of training collaboration.”

Richard Miller, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) Head of Qualifications and Standards reflects Kate’s vision for the initiative: “It’s a win-win. Trainees are helped to make the transition from school to employment with sector-specific training that gets them site-ready. And by establishing links with schools there’s a steady pipeline for employers to recruit and train the next generation of roofers, who can qualify upstream all the way to Roofcert. It would be great if this model can be replicated across the UK.”

Hands on

Owen Bates, 16, left school in June and is part of the first cohort of trainees at SPV Group. He’s eager to make the most of the opportunities in roofing: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school. I knew I didn’t want to work in an office and I wanted a job that was hands on. I had already done some work experience on site, labouring with my uncle and I enjoyed that,” says Owen.

“When the chance came up at SPV it appealed to me. It made me see that roofing offers some really good opportunities like being able to work on different sites and travel, even abroad, and earn decent money. You can have a good laugh with work mates and you’re not stuck in the same place,” Owen adds.

Looking forward

Kate is now looking forward to seeing the course develop and the first trainees taking up apprenticeships, “Juniper has worked really hard with SPV to create a safe and positive learning environment, and it’s great to see students looking happy and relaxed as they train here with us. But the real value will be in six months’ time when these youngsters progress on to apprenticeships and embark on a long-term and rewarding career with SPV and other roofing companies.”

SPV Group is already recruiting for the next intake of students in February 2020. For more information contact SPV on 01922 749 511 or Juniper Training on 01922 645 666.