Six Roofing Apprentices complete off-site training at Forster Skills academy


21st March 2016

The apprentices, who come from a range of locations across Scotland received their certificates of achievement from Forster Roofing Construction Director, Neil McIvor.

Faced with a reducing level of talent in the industry, Forster last year launched its own in-house Skills Academy that takes training into its own hands. Pioneered by Maureen Douglas, Group HR Director, the two year integrated training programme combines on the job structured learning with contextualised off-site training at Forster’s purpose built training centre in Brechin.

Maureen Douglas, who is also a Board member of the Construction Industry Training (CITB) said: “To address the shortage of suitably skilled trades, we created the specialist modern apprenticeship with other roofing contractors supported by the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, CITB and South Lanarkshire College. We deliver the specialist apprenticeship from our own Skills Academy in two week residential blocks.  This allows our full-time trainer to embed the Forster standards of workmanship and enable the apprentices to complete their off-site training together. The programme has already been a resounding success and is being developed further to enable the up skilling and re-skilling of experienced workers.”

At the end of last year Margo Williamson, Strategic Director at Angus Council, who oversees ‘schools and learning’ at the Council, met with the six apprentices (and Training Supervisor Lindsay Kemp), to discuss their experience of the programme.

Apprentice, Michael McCormack from Motherwell, said: “It’s a really good programme, as you get to learn new skills to take out on-site with you. The course also introduces you to other parts of the business, for example, Jamie, one of the Surveyors talked us through how to price a roof. The off-site part [of the training] is residential which means you get some time away from home, in a nice hotel, which lets you get to know the other apprentices and the people in the office. The company organises lots of different activities in the evenings - the go-karting and skiing were great fun.”

Another apprentice, Ryan Beaton, said: “I feel incredibly lucky to be on the Forster programme as I know a lot of young people are looking for training and skills to secure work. I’ve not seen a level of training like this anywhere else as the apprenticeship offers both on-site work with a one-to-one mentor and training in the Forster Academy. You get time to ask questions and work to your own pace as you learn, then put your new skills to practice on-site.”

In 2015 Forster Roofing took on a total of 12 Modern Apprentices through the newly built Academy. With a further 12 apprentices to be taken on this year, the company is on-track to achieve its target of recruiting 24 apprentices before the end of 2016. This as Maureen adds “will ensure that the business continues to develop talent with the right skills and attitudes for the construction industry.” 

Forster Group Ltd

“The Forster Group of companies comprise of Forster Energy who provide a bespoke solar PV installation solutions service, Forster Roofing who deliver pitched roofing installation services and Forster Industrial who distribute specialist construction and industrial chemicals and membranes. Operating in the house builder, construction, public sector refurbishment, agriculture and commercial markets we uniquely bring together our roofing and solar PV services to offer these sectors a completely integrated package.”

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