Massive skills shortage is tackled head on by firm

Pro-Actice Safety Ltd, of Queens Meadow Business Park, Hartlepool, who are setting up a new training centre taking on 60 new apprentices. Pictured l-r are Becky Wllis, Jo Willis, Alistair Sinclair, Steve Willis, Brian Hanson and David Wilson.
Pro-Actice Safety Ltd, of Queens Meadow Business Park, Hartlepool, who are setting up a new training centre taking on 60 new apprentices. Pictured l-r are Becky Wllis, Jo Willis, Alistair Sinclair, Steve Willis, Brian Hanson and David Wilson.

A new training centre is about to open in Hartlepool to tackle Britain’s vast shortage of construction workers.

Some estimates say the country is 50 per cent short on the skilled people it needs to build new houses.

There was a shortage of trades in the industry. We thought it was a fantastic idea to take the decision to offer apprenticeships. We can give them site experience. It is an ideal opportunity to develop a skill

Steve Willis, Brickwork Services Ltd

But Hartlepool is hitting back by developing the workforce of the future.

Ninety apprentices have been signed up for a 12-month course to learn bricklaying at the new centre in Brenda Road.

It has been developed by bosses at Queens Meadow-based Brickwork Services which is taking on 20 staff to train up the new intake.

Around £120,000 has been invested on the training centre, on the Park View Industrial Estate.

It will be unveiled next month and will gradually expand and offer more courses. Once it is fully operational, it will train 200 people at a time in skills ranging from plastering to painting and decorating.

Bosses at Brickwork estimate 60 out of the first batch of 90 trainees will go straight into full-time work.

They are so keen to spread the word about the new project, they are holding an open day this Saturday at Brickwork’s headquarters in the Innovation Centre, on the Queens Meadow Business Park.

It starts at 1pm and Steve Willis, the boss of both Brickwork and its training arm Pro-Active Safety Solutions, urged potential trainees and their parents to come along.

He said: “It’s a chance to ask questions. These are young people and this is possibly the biggest decision of their lives.”

He said the centre will start by teaching the skills of bricklaying - later adding courses in joinery, plastering and “whatever the industry needs”.

Mr Willis believes the construction industry could be as much as 50 per cent short of the workforce it needs to cope with the demands of building projects.

He added: “We turn away a lot of work. We are probably turning away more than £200,000 a week.”

Brickwork is developing the new training course in conjunction with Newcastle-based NCT and Mr Willis explained why he thinks the industry is so short of staff.

“When the recession hit, a lot of people left the industry,” he said.

But he added: “There was a shortage of trades in the industry. We thought it was a fantastic idea to take the decision to offer apprenticeships.

“We can give them site experience. It is an ideal opportunity to develop a skill.”

But even though most of the places on the first intake have been snapped up, Brickwork still wants to hear from interested people.

Mr Willis added: “We can always see people because we want the best.”