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Roofers Of The Future

March 2015




Roofing specialist Bracknell Roofing has launched an industry-leading, long-term apprenticeship programme designed to drive forward the development of the ‘roofers of the future’.

 Following eighteen months of planning and developing the right training and support culture, the company has just seen the first two apprentices join its apprenticeship programme.  Plans are now in place that will see up to several young people on the programme by the end of 2015, as they take the two year vocational journey to learn what it takes to be a technically proficient roofer with the skills to support a long and rewarding career.

 Simon Smith, managing director at Bracknell Roofing, has been the driving force behind the creation of the programme.  He comments: “As activity levels once more start to increase, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) forecasts that the construction sector requires 120,000 apprentices over the next five years to fill a looming skills gap. Because of this, robust and well planned apprenticeship programmes are set to play a critical role to ensure that a lack of skills development does not harm the sector’s future prospects.

 “As the construction sector moves back towards growth, it is essential all stakeholders look to secure its future.  In the roofing industry, I am determined that we do everything we can to support our trade and continue to develop the skilled and committed labour force we will need.”

 To establish its apprenticeship programme, Bracknell Roofing spent time and resources investing in the right structure to support the apprenticeship scheme once it was up and running.  This included working with the CITB and other bodies in the roofing industry to access the guidance and funding available for businesses for such programmes.  In addition, the company directly employs up to ten experienced roofing personnel to support the programme and help supervise and mentor the young people joining the scheme, as ensuring they have the right level of emotional support from staff when entering the workplace is important to Bracknell Roofing.

 Simon Smith continues: “We have taken the time to ensure we have the right approach and broad structure and support in place ahead of moving to the practical part of the apprenticeship programme.  We have a team of staff dedicated to helping our apprentices through the formative parts of the course when everything is new and a challenge.  The combination of academic-based teaching at college and practical experience, firstly working off-site, and then progressing to an active construction site, is providing a solid foundation for the students to learn all aspects of what it entails to be a skilled roofer.”

 Bracknell Roofing aims to increase its apprenticeship intake by 50% year-on-year as the company continues to invest time and resources to implement a long-term training vision for the business and roofing sector.

 Simon Smith concludes: “Our first apprentices are already up and running and are enthusiastically absorbing their learnings whether in the classroom or within a controlled practical teaching environment.   We’d encourage others across construction to investigate the practical and financial support available so they can also help nurture new talent for their company and the industry.  Organisations like the CITB, NFRC and Roofing Alliance Industry have been very helpful in steering us in the right direction, so it’s worth other companies calling upon this support. 

“The roofing industry needs to make skills development a top priority in the coming years.  If we do so, the sector can rely upon the contribution of a well-trained, skilled workforce that will be in place for the foreseeable future.  If we do not, skills will simply leave the industry and the sector will suffer from a dearth of skilled roofers who have simply not been replaced in the numbers we need.”