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A qualified workforce: Mark Prestman says there's £££££ to help you

17 September 2013
Mark Priestman says don't miss out on the money available for training.

Mark Priestman has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural stone sector. He plays an active role in the development and delivery of training in this specialist environment. Along with his father, David Priestman, he runs a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce!

My 40 years have been equally spent in two locations. The past 20 I have been working and living in Greater London. The first 20 I was born, raised and trained in my home city of Nottingham.

Nottingham has two principle heroes: Robin Hood and Brian Clough.

Brian Clough was famous for his outspokenness. He once said: “I’m told Rome wasn’t built in a day… but I wasn’t on that job!”

As a football manager, Brian Clough was a legend and that quote always makes me smile. You can probably already see how it fits in with training and qualifying the workforce. Patience is a reasonable stance to adopt but without drive nothing would ever be achieved.

There are many aspects to running a successful business in the stone sector. Many of our business leaders are spinning the plates of economy, competition, marketing, tendering, employment law, cash flow, networking, budgeting, legislation... and the rest.

The plate this column focuses on is training and qualifications. If I’m honest, I consider this a central priority. People are a firm’s product; its reputation; its next successful tender. Simple!

Despite it being a very big cog in any operation, training is often relegated to ‘any other business’ on far too many boardroom agendas for my liking. Two aspects of training provision, though, ought to get the subject bounced up the agenda.

1. Who fancies getting funding close on £11,000 per learner for an outlay of only £5,600 per learner?

Does it sound like a trap from Robin Hood? It’s not. If you’d like more information about the amazing funding available for this year only for the imminent façade preservation specialist apprenticeship programme, give me a shout… soon!

There are opportunities almost as good for similar programmes in Stone Fixing and Stone Paving.

2. Who has a sneaking feeling they are losing out on tenders on the grounds of not having the ‘right’ training and certification for their workforce?

Well, in this column in June and July I looked at essential training for site operatives, supervisors and managers in respect of first aid, fire safety and asbestos awareness. Now I am turning my attention to Health & Safety.

The powerful UKCG (United Kingdom Contractors Group) has requirements for health & safety training that will be looked for in your tender submissions if you are dealing with a member firm.

Who is a UKCG member? Pretty much anyone of significance in the principle contractor realm. Think the likes of BAM, Carillion, Costain, Galliford Try, ISG, Kier, Mace, Osborne, Sisk, McAlpine and Wates. The UKCG and its member organisations are focused on their document sexily called: Health & Safety Training Standard 2012, revised 2013.

To quote from its introduction: “UKCG member companies require that everybody engaged on their construction sites is able to demonstrate they have the necessary health & safety knowledge and skills.” The Standard then goes on to list examples of approved courses for each worker type: Operative, Supervisor, Manager and Director.

Let’s take directors first.

Personally, I believe a top down approach to training is best, so long as the flow through to the rest of the business is swift. This naturally makes for more joined up oversight of the business than it might be with a base up model of training.

Directors are defined as: owners and members of executive boards and those who carry out day to day management of work activities. This is the point at which sleeping directors will want to wake up, too!

Another category it’s important to be careful about is ‘supervisor’. What is a supervisor? Answer: anyone supervising. Realistically, that ranges from trade foreman to site supervisor.

Below are the courses recognised by the UKCG’s Standard. Some latitude for alternatives is permitted, but serious hoops have to be jumped through. To check out what is acceptable take a look at:

Recognised courses:

For Directors:

  • CITB Directors Role for Health & Safety (1 day)
  • IOSH Directing Safety (1 day)

For Managers:

  • CITB Site Managers Safety Training Scheme (5 day), or
  • IOSH Managing Safety (4 day)
  • (Both these involve the CSCS MAP Touch Screen test)

For Supervisors:

  • CITB Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (2 day)

For Operatives:

  • CITB Health & Safety Awareness Course (1 day) (This is not the CSCS H&S Touch Screen test)

At least now you are armed with the requirements of the standard you can give some thought to what needs addressing before you write your next tender.

Next month I’ll be taking a look at essential NVQ and CSCS compliance – another key to successful tenders.

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy. From stonemasonry and heritage skills through to Site Supervision and Conservation Management, the partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers.




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