Supporting future roofers through apprentice awards
Apprentices have always been important to us, and not only do we support a number of colleges, but we’re delighted to have been a sponsor for the Redland Apprentice of the Year for a second year in a row.
Both the Icopal and Redland Apprentice of the Year winners were announced at a special prize-giving ceremony on June 27. Jay Webster, a student at Leeds College of Building, one of the institutions we have been supporting over the past few years, was declared winner of the Redland award. In RCI Magazine, after receiving the award Jay described how the award has given him the self-assurance he needed to use his roofing skills in the future: “I became more confident as the competition went on, but to actually win it, tells me I’m better than I thought I was.”
Over the course of two days the finalists competed by completing a series of assignments which assessed the elements of running their own roofing business, from business planning to technical skills. The final task was to give a five minute presentation describing their future ambitions and what motivates them. All of this is in place to give the judges a satisfactory overview of the entrants’ ability to set up their own business in the future.
It is no news to say that there is an ongoing concern over the lack of apprentices entering the roofing industry, creating a skills shortage and impacting on the future of building. There’s certainly no slowing down in terms of building in the UK – you only have to look at housebuilding targets set by the government to see that roofers are in more demand than ever.
However, in the construction industry, the number of workers over 60 has increased more than any other age group, with under 30s decreasing the most (CIOB). As more and more skilled roofers reach retirement age, the industry is under increasing pressure to recruit more young apprentices so that the skills aren’t lost.
Alastair Blant, technical trainer (pictured) at Redland, spoke to us about why it’s so important for companies to get involved with apprentices. “The simple fact is that there just aren’t enough roofers in the industry. The construction sector as a whole is experiencing a concerning drought when it comes to new talent entering the industry – in fact the statistics tell us that around 12,000 people leave the industry a year but only 3,000 join.
“We established the awards last year as a way to encourage and incentivise roofing as a career option. We want school leavers to see that it’s not ‘just’ a trade, but the business opportunity is huge. That’s why the awards have been designed not only to test technical skill but also business acumen and ambition.
“Having other major construction businesses support the awards, such as Midland Lead, is extremely important, and sends the right message to students that they are valued by all the different parts of the industry. It’s only by having greater engagement with school-leavers that we will encourage interest in construction, and safeguard vital skills for the future.”
Lynn Street, our sales and marketing manager adds: “Initiatives such as Redland’s are hugely important to help increase the number of apprentices entering the construction industry. It means school leavers can see that there is valuable support for them in terms of training but also importantly business skills. We’re proud to be involved in such a worthwhile initiative and hope it encourages more young people to consider construction as a career option.”
It’s fantastic to know that the competition was so strong this year at the Apprentice of the Year awards that the judges felt the need to award a highly commended accolade as well as the first prize. The victors themselves received a cash prize, a trophy, as well as roofing tools and materials. The two industry brand leaders at BMI’s National Training Centre are also there to offer support as they head into the future.
We would like to send a heartfelt congratulations to both Icopal and Redland winners Jay Webster and Kieran Forster.