Our business is Future Proofing Construction Skills

06.04.2018

When it comes to growth predictions construction is on track to be the leading industry sector in Wales.

 

In 2016 the sector’s output was estimated to have reached £55.4bn with around 8% of the total Welsh workforce employed in the industry (source: WG 2014 via Careers Wales website). 

According to Welsh Government, Wales has almost 13,000 companies employing circa 112,000 with significant growth predicted for the industry.   In the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) latest Construction Skills Network report (Feb 2018) Wales leads UK construction growth for the fourth year running and the sector is set to grow by 4.6% on average per annum up to 2022.  By then an extra 12,250 jobs will boost the workforce to an estimated 121,500 by 2022.

Much of this growth is a result of significant infrastructure projects such as Yr Wylfa Newydd the new nuclear power station in Ynys Mon, the M4 relief road and the South Wales Metro as well as a much increased house building programme which aims to deliver 20,000 affordable homes.

The challenge for the Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC), situated in phase one of UWTSD's new £300 million SA1 Swansea Waterfront development, is to help meet the workforce skills this growth will demand.  One of its main roles is to ensure that Wales has a fully trained workforce - the right people, in the right place, at the right time and with the right capabilities.  As its name and strap-line suggests its aim is to improve skills, encourage new entrants into the industry, lead on innovation and ensure industry continues to improve its performance.

Set up as a Hub and Spokes model in 2016 with funding from the CITB, CWIC works in partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd, Coleg Cambria, Coleg Ceredigion, Coleg Sir Gar and the Building Research Establishment to deliver specialist construction training at all levels.   Keen to be inclusive and to address the needs of the whole industry in Wales it has also started offering training via its wider network such as at Pembrokeshire College, Coleg Llandrillo and Coleg Gwent to name a few.  CWIC is also working collaboratively with federations and professional bodies such as the Federation of Master Builders and the Chartered institute of Building, Construction Excellence Wales, Construction Future Wales).  Additionally, working with trade bodies, advisory groups and construction businesses CWIC is well placed to understand the training needs of the sector.

Meeting the needs of industry

CWIC is going to be a key player in supporting the significant growth predicted for the sector.

Having established a strong benchmark in its first 18 months CWIC has successfully delivered a wide ranging training programme benefiting most occupations.  During this period 1,550 staff have benefited from training, support has been provided to in excess of 350 companies and more than 220 courses, events and other activities have been completed.   

A diverse programme of training has been industry led, usually requested through CITB’s training advisory groups and has included courses on using excavators and telescopic handlers, heritage plastering, basic lead welding, the repair and maintenance of sash windows, road construction, site surveying and the installation of sprinklers. Recognising the challenge of attracting young people to construction, a four week intensive boot camp has been successfully delivered, all of whom are likely to start work with local contractors.  In terms of innovation CWIC has introduced new courses on the use of drone and laser scanning technologies which demonstrate their use in surveying construction projects and is looking forward to developing further courses using new technology. 

Educational engagement is also one of CWIC’s priorities.  To capitalise on live construction sites it introduced a new on-site learning initiative called ‘Skills on Site’ for Further and Higher Education students.  Since the initiative was launched last year students have been able to learn from contractors such as Kier Construction about current working practices such as Mechanical and Electrical Connectivity, Contractual Procedures, Tender Bids and Site Logistics and from TRJ about their Pre-construction procedures for the new Performance and Innovation building being built at their Graig Campus. 

Gerald Naylor, Director of CWIC said that, “The response from employers has been very encouraging with both large and small contractors offering to open their sites to full-time students eager to learn from those actually delivering construction projects. This CWIC-CITB initiative aims to help full-time students become work ready through short and structured learning experiences."

Wales’ first construction centre

CWIC isn’t missing out on the construction boom as it is moving from its current location to a brand new purpose-built home in this September. This is when the £6.5m CITB funded innovation Hub will open. It will be the new base for CWIC forming part of the new Swansea Waterfront campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. It will offer visitors state of the art facilities including a Constructzone, workshop space, and digital learning suite, as well as conference, seminar and meeting spaces.

The CWIC development will also see the establishment of a nearby Access Hall (scaffolding facility) supporting employers and apprentices from Wales and beyond. The Access Hall is due to open in September 2018 and will deliver introductory courses, apprenticeship programmes as well as short courses demanded by industry.

In addition to its specialist training remit CWIC is a partner in a number of CITB funded industry-led projects promoting the construction industry throughout Wales to the education sector. These include working with Bouygues UK on the development of educational resources for the careers service and school teachers and with Kier Construction on employer-education engagement tools. CWIC is also partnering with the Civil Engineering Contractors Association on improving recruitment into higher education though sustainable engagement. Currently, CWIC is involved in two further CITB collaborative projects again for the benefit of promoting careers in construction as well as enhancing training methods.

CWIC in partnership with the UWTSD, CIOB and CITB are actively developing new Level 5 Higher Apprenticeships in Construction Management and Quantity Surveying as a result of employer demand in Wales. These are due to start September 2018 and work has started on developing Degree Apprenticeships ready for 2019.

Mark Bodger, Partnership Director, CITB Cymru Wales, said: "CWIC is a landmark project for CITB and represents the new partnership approach for us as organisation as outlined in our Vision 2020 – The Future CITB programme. The opening of the CWIC hub in the autumn of this year comes at a good time for the Welsh construction industry with strong growth forecast and a positive pipeline of work predicted."

CWIC will help to provide training that is most needed in our sector, working in partnership to create the skills for now and for the future.”

Note to Editor

For further information about CWIC please visit cwic.wales or contact them on 01792 481273 / cwic@uwtsd.ac.uk.

 

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Tel: 01792 483695
Mobile: 07384 467071
Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk