H+H has long supported the training of the next generation of bricklayers through teaching and product donations. Most recently, we have been working with the NHBC, donating Celcon Blocks to its pioneering Training Hubs.
These purpose-built facilities are a core part of the NHBC’s bricklaying apprenticeship programme. Currently the organisation, which became a registered apprenticeship provider in 2020, has active hubs in Tamworth, Newcastle and Cambridge, with more on the way.
They each have capacity to train over 100 apprentices per year, with multiple cohort intakes trained throughout the year. Each facility is located in areas with multiple building sites and is linked to housebuilders active in the area, so apprentices are able to jump straight onto the job.
At the training hubs, bricklaying apprentices are fast tracked through the process, with the first five weeks spent at a hub learning core practical skills as well as health and safety practices.
NHBC created the hubs in an effort to immerse learners in a realistic working environment. The hours, conditions and environment are designed to prepare apprentices for life on site. This is a key point of difference to college-based training courses, where dropout rates are often high due to apprentices being unprepared for the realities of working on an actual building site.
Nick Howard, Key Account Manager for Private Housebuilding at H+H, explained why it is so important to support the programme. “Some of the biggest issues facing housebuilding are labour and skills shortages. There are two solutions to this that need to work in tandem. One is looking to offsite construction to support housebuilding, which H+H is doing with its Vertical Wall Panel system. But, to build 300,000 new homes each year, brick and block construction is still going to be a large part of how we get there.
“The NHBC hubs are designed to provide quality brick and block laying training faster, while also retaining trainees in the profession. This can only be a good thing for housebuilding. H+H is the leading UK aircrete manufacturer and it is our responsibility to support training programmes such as this. It is essential to combat the skills gap and housing shortage and we are proud to be involved with this NHBC initiative.”
With the set-up of the hubs being far removed from a traditional training college, they are a more attractive prospect to those looking to retrain. For example, Jennifer Kehoe, 41, a former Police Constable, swapped a career in the Police to take up a bricklaying apprenticeship at an NHBC Training Hub.
At the opening of the Cambridgeshire training hub, Jennifer said: “The NHBC Training Hub and its bricklaying apprenticeship has worked really well for me. The training hub is set up as a true to life building site and it offers accelerated learning which financially means I could make the career change with the support of my employer. The first five weeks at the NHBC Training Hub pretty much got me ready to go onto a building site.”
H+H plans to continue delivering blocks to future NHBC hubs as well as offering training support where needed. Find out more about NHBC apprenticeships here.