Building Heroes is a charity formed in 2014 to deliver construction skills training courses to military veterans to enable them to find employment in the industry.
Following the many military conflicts across the globe, and the recent scaling back of funding, many members of the services are being discharged. Some carry significant physical damage, others have different problems caused by their experiences in the services, often compounded by the impact of their discharge.
Makita, Britain’s number 1 professional power tool manufacturer, is supporting this worthwhile industry initiative by providing technical training within a specially designed course, originally founded at Chichester College which has expanded to encompass Reaseheath College and Colchester Institute, to encourage the construction industry to focus on the many attributes of these troops. Disciplined and trained, ex-service personnel can give core strengths to any expanding business.
There are approximately 120,000 unemployed ex-military personnel of working age in the UK today. At the same time the UK construction industry is facing a 230,000 person skills shortage. Building Heroes aims to tackle unemployment amongst ex-service personnel by offering targeted skills training and supporting them into employment in the building trades.
The founders of Building Heroes approached Chichester College in West Sussex, one of England’s largest Colleges with 15,000 students, and asked them to design a foundation course that would equip a veteran with core trade skills and a recognisable qualification that would aid employment entry to the construction industry. The Construction Faculty at Chichester College created the ‘Building Heroes Property Maintenance Course’ as a multi-disciplinary programme of maintenance skills covering internal and external structures, plumbing, tiling, painting and decorating, Health and Safety responsibility and business management requirements. Success on this comprehensive five-week residential course will qualify the attendee to Level 1 Health and Safety in the Construction Environment and the award of the valuable Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, essential for employment in the industry.
In the final week of this course one of Makita’s technical demonstrators spends a day with the attendees to take the group through the safe and correct use of a wide variety of power tools, explaining correct procedures, advising on accessories to benefit performance, maintenance and operations. Whilst most attendees acknowledged they had handled power tools before, this induction, together with hands-on practical experience, has been well-received and will serve them in the future.
As a team the group seem secure; collective banter is strong and friendships are made but individually some fragility is evident. This is the target for Building Heroes – to not only deliver skills but the confidence to make a person stronger. Ben served 17 years in the RAF following University and become a super-skilled engineer understanding the intricate details of the massively complex Chinook double rotor helicopter. He wrote the training course for the next generation of Chinook techies. Where he’s been, and what he’s seen, has added up to a personal pressure point resulting in PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - that blights so many good people following the stress of military involvement. Ben will now be a successful operator in the renewable energy fields of the future.
Nathan served 13 years in the Royal Tank Regiment rising to Troop Sargent before being discharged in 2013. “I was medically discharged in 2013 after sustaining life changing injuries when my Warthog Armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2010. I am now looking to retrain to find a rewarding and fulfilling career in property maintenance.”
Alison Sleat is the Programme Coordinator for Building Heroes and the charity is now reaching out to industry for job opportunities. “The real result will be supporting these veterans to achieve their career aspirations. They are trained and highly skilled individuals but may need a little extra support to transition into the civilian workplace. Building Heroes are working with a number of businesses who recognise the skills and attributes of our veterans and are supporting us to find them employment in the building trades.
“We are now the training and recruitment partner for a company who are recruiting over 400 veterans in the next 18 months,” continues Alison. “The cohort at Reaseheath is the first to undertake the programme with guaranteed full-time employment with Heroes4Hire-Handymen on successful completion of the course; this is a fantastic opportunity. We’d like to thank Makita for stepping forward to help us and Heroes4Hire-Handymen in what we’re aiming to achieve. The support from industry is vital to grow the success of the Building Heroes programme and those who are committed to supporting our veterans.”
Kevin Brannigan, marketing manager, Makita, comments: “Building Heroes has our full support and it’s great to see our relationship expanding so quickly, with new opportunities developing all the time. These ex-servicemen and women come here from all over the country to take advantage of the programme; let’s hope there will soon be more colleges offering similar courses to many more who want and need support and back-up. We wish them all well.”
Further information about the charity visit www.buildingheroes.org.uk