Partners in Bristol, a subsidiary of City of Bristol College, provides crucial solution-focused training, delivering skills that companies need whilst championing the ideology that everyone should have the opportunity to learn and grow within their chosen career. They provide high-quality, professionally-designed curricula to ensure progression, and now they hold the accolade of being the only training provider in the South West to deliver certain courses on real-world construction sites, putting students at the epicentre of the industry.
These pioneering short courses including other areas such as plumbing, carpentry, electrical and bricklaying operate at the One Lockleaze Skills Academy, in the North of the city.
According to the latest data from Construction Skills Network, an extra 225,000 construction workers may be needed by 2027 to meet UK demand.
Last week, BBC Radio journalist, Steve Yabsley got stuck in with Health & Safety Construction learners at the One Lockleaze Skills Academy to discover just what it takes to start a career in construction.
Ragan Rylatt-Williams was one of the first cohort to complete a two-week course with Partners in Bristol who has since entered a full-time career in construction.
Ragan commented: “When I first left here and got my CSCS, I went to be a labourer at a couple of agencies until I could find a job doing something I want to do, which is grounds work which is what I’m doing now. It was only part -time, so was a little two-week contract each time. I was just doing that to get some money coming in and get some more experience on-site.
“I didn’t really like labouring as much as I wanted to but I found that grounds work opportunity, so I took it and ever since I haven’t looked back and now I’m working my way to set up my own company.”
It’s clear to see just how much completing the course with Partners in Bristol has changed Ragan’s life, with the job allowing him to earn money to afford driving lessons and even a car, opening a window of opportunity for him in the space of just one year.
He continued: “Within less than a year, I’ve achieved so much, I didn’t have the drive before but now ever since I did this course, I managed to save up to get my licence, my own car, insurance and stuff like that. It’s given me opportunity and now my boss has given me a van, it’s opened up my possibilities of work.”
Talking of his future aspirations, Ragan said: “I’ve got my licence, next I want to get my digger and tickets and then by the time I’m 30, my next goal is to create my own company, my own family-run little business, my own family home, I want all of that.
His advice to those who are considering enrolling in a course but are feeling a little apprehensive to enter an industry they have no experience of? Ragan added: “Have confidence, sound like you know what you’re talking about, just try it. It may not seem like it is as easy but once you do it once or twice, it gets easier and you get used to it.
“I struggled with my mental health growing up and I had counselling and they taught me how to be confident in myself and to accept any problems that I have, that’s why I’m so confident because of what people have told me and helped me and what I’ve witnessed and been through.”
Learners hail from all walks of life with many re-training having traditionally been a part of an entirely different industry.
Another learner, Jodie, has a much more creative background, with this only being her second week stepping foot on to a construction site. She commented: “I have experience with working with a few tools before, I’ve done some scenic painting work, used a drill but only once or twice kind of thing.
“I’ve just taken my Level 1 rope technician training, so I’m now a qualified rope technician and in order for me to get the job that I want I need a CSCS and then what comes from that is to gain more tickets and more qualifications so that I can specialise.”
Talking of her next steps, she added: “I think I’m going to head to London for a couple of months because I know there’s lots of work there, lots of skyscrapers to work on, clean some windows, fixing, painting, mending and then come back to Bristol. There is a lot of work on the railways here but in order for you to work on the railways, you have to get your chainsaw licence as a lot of that type of work is around de-vegetation and you need your PTS licence.”
Another student also spoke of his future goals, saying: “I’m planning on getting back to working on site, I enjoy it, it’s really good, really good money and also I want to progress. I used to be a labourer and then a handy man, so now I want to progress my way through to management, it’s a great opportunity.”
Speaking of the work that Partners in Bristol do, Rob Hazleton, Managing Director of Partners in Bristol said: “This is a partnership with Vistry Group and it’s about bringing construction and education on to live construction sites. We work closely with job centres, supporting people currently on universal credit to gain those basic skills and get them into work.
“We’re working to support them for their next steps into vocational trades, whether that’s short courses or whether that’s in to slightly longer programmes such as an apprenticeship.
“Partners in Bristol is all about making that difference for individuals and it’s really heart-warming, we see it in all of the courses, not just construction, those individuals that have been able to do a short, sharp course with us and progress into sustainable employment and just the difference and opportunities in life that it gives them.”
Talking of learners’ progression, David Dibble, Senior Project Manager for Partners in Bristol added: “Some students go on to also do our forklift qualification or our storage and warehousing qualification which gets them their forklift licence. Some of them want to go into door security. So they combine a bit of the site work with the door security, so they’ll go and do our three week SIA course as well.
“We also have Hays recruitment come in to talk to them and they’ll run through the opportunities that they’ve got to get them into work, they’ll talk about salaries and the jobs they could potentially get.”
Partners in Bristol learners, both current and historical, are proving to be real success stories, with the vast majority having progressed to sustainable employment. The main objective for Partners in Bristol is to help unemployed people, often those on Universal Credit, to get a foot in the door of their chosen industry, gain qualifications they need and secure a lucrative position as they take the next steps forward for their life.
To discover more about Partners in Bristol and the short courses that they offer, simply click here.