Front Of The Class!

Issue 100

Two learners have gone from sitting in class to teaching at the front after excelling at a Hartlepool construction and civil engineering plant training centre and Hartlepool College of Further Education.

Amy Richards and Luke Willgress are two of the more than 600 people who have gone into work from unemployment through Seymour Skills Academy’s Gateway to Construction course.

The pair have quickly progressed into trainer roles on the programme following industry experience and completion of their teaching qualifications. They now are part of an award winning team, delivering the very course they started on which is brought in partnership with Hartlepool College, at the 11-acre real-life construction site on Brenda Road.

Amy, 31, is now a Plant Instructor having followed up the six-week course for industry recognised qualifications and being offered an initial job as a training support operative, providing her with practical experience which has led to promotion following completion of her NPORS Instructional Techniques accreditation.

She said: “I have always had an agricultural background and was unemployed for a while, and then my nana said ‘why don’t you give this a go?’ So I joined the programme in 2021.

“I didn’t really have a career in mind and now I’m here it’s been massively important for me, life-changing. This has brought on my confidence so much because I was so shy at speaking to people.

“This has brought the best out of me. I would love to get more women into construction because it is still a male dominated industry. You might still hear people say you shouldn’t be doing that – but I always say ‘why?’

Luke is now a Streetworks Instructor having progressed from being a learner to a trainer at Seymour Skills Academy after a brief spell working on multiple sites for Seymour Civil Engineering’s main business gaining strong practical site experience and laterally achieving a Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocationally Related Achievement.

The 25-year-old said: “I can’t believe what Seymour Skills Academy has done for me. I used to be someone who wouldn’t leave the house when I was at school. I just didn’t suit the classroom environment and now I’m enjoying it!

“I wasn’t getting much work as a groundworker during Covid. Then someone I know told me about this course so I could gain qualifications to open up the opportunity for more work. I took a leap of faith to come on the Gateway to Construction course and haven’t looked back.

“After six weeks’ training I got a job supporting the Trainer. I was preparing areas, looking after the plant, helping to make cups of tea. I’ve then gained further experience working on a range of sites across a number of industries and I’ve continued to work upwards. I’m now a trainer and I have proven to myself that I can do it after doubting myself.

“I get up and deliver to six to eight people each time and I get good feedback from experienced people. It has helped me become a better person.

“I am looking to keep moving forward in my career, looking for the next challenge.”

The personal development of Amy and Luke has hugely impressed the Skills Academy team. Through their career progression, they have supported them throughout – from gaining their initial qualifications through to mentoring and shadowing experiences which has helped them develop their presenting and teaching skills, complimenting their occupational knowledge to empower them to become great teachers.

Donna King, Seymour Skills Academy manager, said: “I couldn’t be prouder. To see them come through the journey they have both had has been so inspiring for others. “They both play an integral role here and to see them delivering training makes me feel like a proud parent.”

The Gateway to Construction was set up to help those out of work through a programme of industry recognised qualifications, delivered in partnership with Hartlepool College, and move them into employment within construction. The programme itself has seen 76 per cent of learners secure a job in the industry.

Gary Riches, Hartlepool College’s vice principal, said: “This is exactly what the civil engineering training academy is all about. It’s designed to help learners progress, whether that’s directly into skilled practical employment or teaching and passing on their knowledge to the next generation.

“We are dedicated to meeting the needs of our employer-partners within the construction and civil engineering sector and this close partnership we have with Seymour Civil Engineering is evidence of that.

“I’m proud to say that this training facility in Hartlepool is doing its bit to close a very big skills gap in the construction sector, and to have a sector specialist employer working with us is the reason so many people are gaining the right knowledge and skills to see them transition into paid employment.”

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