Salix Homes. Releasing the potential

Procure Plus helps create new generation of construction specialists

Student Rachel Howarth at work on the course

Procure Plus has taken a key role in helping to develop the new qualification, which takes the form of a 16-week course and practical on-the-job training. Academically, each student will cover modules ranging from installation to health and safety and customer service, before having the chance to work on real-life energy efficiency improvement projects.

To support the initiative, Procure Plus worked with Trinity Business Training to develop the format of the course and was critical in securing work experience for the candidates with its housing provider members. Salix Homes, for instance, was keen to offer full time training opportunities to the candidates having identified a skills shortage whilst completing insulation works on several of its properties. As such, at least eight trainees will be given work placements with the organisation's contractors.

Procure Plus also engaged its framework contractors and suppliers, including Seddons, Forrest, and Wetherby Building Systems, to provide the materials needed for the students to train and practice. What's more, to give the students a helping hand as they start their careers, the consortium gave each trainee a top-of-the-range tool kit.

Working with Salix Homes and the Broughton Trust, a charity set up to deliver employment support and community development across East Salford, Procure Plus has put forward a number of candidates from hard to reach areas. So far, 14 students have joined the course and several of these candidates have been selected through Achieve, a project that aims to create positive employment and training opportunities for ex-offenders.

"This course is a great example of collaborative working between business, education and community groups, but also demonstrates how, through creative thinking, we can solve some key pressures and challenges faced by each party," said Mark Wilson, Training Coordinator at Procure Plus. "As the Government continues to focus on tackling the carbon challenge, there's a real need for a skilled workforce in this area, and similarly, there are many young people out there who are looking for long term careers and a break into employment. By bringing these parties together, we've created a ground-breaking project that will have a tangible, positive impact on both business and the wider community."

Sue Sutton, director of customer and neighbourhood services at Salix Homes, said: "We've been doing a lot of work to improve the energy efficiency of our homes which provided a great opportunity to get local people trained and specialised in this exciting and growing area of the construction industry.

"The course gives young people from some of the hardest to reach communities in Salford the chance to obtain high-quality training that will provide them with the skills and experience that employers require. This is an excellent initiative that Salix Homes is proud to have helped establish."

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About Procure Plus

Procure Plus is a North West social housing regeneration consortium that generates efficiencies by leveraging the procurement of construction materials and contractors. As well as delivering effective, value for money schemes and ways of working for its clients, Procure Plus works with housing providers to reinvest a proportion of the savings made by the consortium back into the community, helping to create local jobs and encourage regeneration.