Leicester construction learners get careers head start



Leicester College and construction firm Stepnell have launched a new training initiative giving a head start to learners seeking a career in the construction industry.

Stepnell – which is the company building the further education college’s new motor vehicle workshop – has joined forces with Leicester College to provide learners with real-life industry experience, careers advice and the opportunity to showcase their skills to potential employers.

Stepnell best practice manager Karen Ryan launched the partnership at the College’s Employability Week, giving a presentation to more than 60 construction learners at the College including advice on the qualities and skills employers are looking for and the different routes into the industry. Four Stepnell apprentices and trainees also took part, sharing their direct experiences of the industry and their own training, and taking part in a question-and-answer session with learners.

Potential for 50 work placements

The College and Stepnell are now set to launch a work placement programme for the College’s construction learners giving them the opportunity to gain valuable industry experience on the major project which Stepnell is undertaking building a new motor vehicle workshop for the College. The company will also provide work experience on a separate project which the firm is undertaking at De Montfort University in Leicester, creating a new conference and events venue.

Stepnell is offering up to 50 week-long work placements giving learners the chance to work under the close supervision of qualified tradespersons including electricians, carpenters, plumbers, plasterers and painters and decorators. There will also be opportunities for work-shadowing placements with the company’s site management team.

Paul Hirscher, director of Construction at Leicester College, welcomes the opportunities which the partnership is creating for the College’s learners to gain industry experience. “Work experience is a requirement for our 16- to 18-year-old learners and is something that we have always encouraged for learners as part of helping them in gaining apprenticeships and developing their careers,” he says. “It gives the young people an insight into the particular company and the workplace itself. The chance to work with a company like Stepnell is a fantastic opportunity. Our full-time learners also appreciated the advice given by Karen Ryan from Stepnell at our Employability Week as well as finding it useful to hear directly from the young Stepnell apprentices about how they got their jobs.”

“We’re very excited to be working with the College on this major new training initiative,” says Stepnell best practice manager Karen Ryan. “Bringing the next generation into the industry is crucial – especially at a time when it faces a potential skills shortage. This is an opportunity for the Leicester learners to gain valuable work experience and demonstrate their skills, not just to Stepnell but to our trade subcontractors. There is a very real chance that the placements could lead in turn to job offers.”

As the construction sector’s recovery continues, industry training body CITB expects an extra 200,000 construction jobs to be created over the next five years making it vital that the industry keeps developing and attracting skilled workers.

Stepnell began construction work in February 2015 on the new motor vehicle workshop at Leicester College’s Abbey Park Campus in Leicester city centre. The leading-edge facility will cater for the growing numbers of learners signing up for motor vehicle

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