The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) has teamed up with Building Heroes to offer free construction training to former members of the Armed Forces.
Since April, 22 ex-military personnel have completed a five-week course with the college in partnership with the charity and construction giant Regal London.
Building Heroes was established in 2014 and works with the education sector and employers to provide construction skills training and employment support for service leavers, veterans, reservists and their families.
CONEL is providing onsite training for a Construction Skills Level 1 Diploma an a Health and Safety Level 1 Diploma along with training to gain a CSCS card, which they need to be able to work on building sites.
Training is taking place at a Regal London construction site in Clarendon Road, Watford, where a new 25-floor residential development comprising 168 homes is being built.
The first two groups completed their training in May and July, with a third group expected to start in September.
Ade Jerry, 40, joined the Army in 2004 and served for 10 years but left on medical grounds, which included severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I wanted the opportunity to learn new skills and better myself in life. I received full support from the Building Heroes team, which really helped me in finding a new direction,” he said.
“The tutor was fantastic and provided me support in both the theoretical and practical side of the course. The academy provided me some experience working on site and a fresh perspective.
“Both Building Heroes and CONEL helped me with any difficulties I had and helped me create a different perspective within myself. It has left me feeling positive about the future.”
Ross Gordon, 21, left the Army after deciding it was not the right career for him. He turned to Building Heroes having gained some construction experience during his service, building the first NHS Nightingale Hospital during the pandemic.
He said: “The course content enabled me to practice different skills and work out what areas I liked/didn’t. It pushed me in the right direction. I couldn’t have asked for a better tutor and felt fully supported throughout the duration of the course.
“I enjoyed the variation of the course content and the extra extended projects. We were able to see other sites and get some perspective of all the trades we were learning about.”
Both Ade and Ross have both gained contract work with Regal London and are looking at other courses to advance their skills and careers.
Last month, to mark Armed Forces Week from 20-25 June, the most recent group won a Construct a Cake competition, set by Building Heroes, to make a cake out of building materials.
Gary Lee, Curriculum Manager for Construction, Plumbing and Electrical at CONEL, said: “Our Armed Forces do so much for our country, and we felt it only right that we give something back to those who have served in conflict or more recently assisted and provided support during the pandemic.
“Regardless of their starting point and the challenges they have faced, all the ex-services personnel who have signed up have all shared a military attitude and determination to achieve.”
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According to Building Heroes, 15,000 people leave the Armed Forces each year, with the percentage of working age veterans expected to increase from 37 per cent in 2016 to 44 per cent in 2028.
The Construction Industry Training board (CITB) has reported 217,000 new workers are needed in the construction industry by 2025 to meet the demand for new housing in the UK.
Brendan Williams, CEO and founder of Building Heroes, said: “Building Heroes is excited to be working with CONEL at our new Regal London onsite training academy in Watford.
“The college’s flexibility in finding a way to support us and the quality of leadership and tuition has been exceptional, and we’ve received excellent feedback from our first cohort of learners.
“We look forward to continuing this relationship and looking for innovative and exciting ways to extend this partnership.”
If you are a former member of the Armed Forces interested in how Building Heroes can help you get the skills for a career in construction, you can find out more here.
CONEL also runs Construction courses in brickwork, carpentry, plumbing and electrical installations at its centres in Tottenham and Enfield, and has partnered with leading industry employer Ardmore on the London Welding Academy in Enfield. Find out more and apply here.