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!
Just when everything started to make sense… Slap!… Time for yet another re-organisation!
And this time the victim was the fledgling but successful contractor group known as the National Heritage Training Group’s Industry Training Group. Yes, the NHTG’s ITG is officially quashed.
Erm, but wasn’t this the new body designed to shed valuable contractor light onto the training needs of the heritage sector?
Yes! It was.
And hadn’t it already made headway in developing several heritage skills courses?
Yes. That too!
And wasn’t this group already getting out and about, meeting with the regions, the contractors and the federations?
Another resounding: YES!
But as with a lot of things that are working perfectly well, a rethink took place, funding was removed and now the operation of spending the NHTG stash falls entirely to its new training committee.
This is a massive shame in my humble opinion, since the representation by contractors on the new committee is proposed to be a meagre. Two.
Still, there are some good folk involved – Henry Rumbold MBE, for one (the heritage masonry tutor of Stone Federation’s Stonetrain). John Munro (Traditional Building Company) is another and so is Keith Hoskins (Carrek). So, these chaps now carry the beacon for getting access to NHTG funding for firms in the specialist heritage arena – including stone companies in the sector.
The primary need for dissolving the NHTG-ITG was that ConstructionSkills decided to pull the plug on funding because the group’s remit didn’t fit easily into the soon to be announced terms of reference for industry training groups.
That brings us nicely to the Natural Stone Industry Training Group (NSITG).
ConstructionSkills has called together representatives from all industry training groups for a meeting at which new terms of reference are defined.
In particular is the need for independent status, cross-sector inclusion and robust leadership. Michelle Turner of Stone Restoration Services, the popular deputy chairperson, attends as the NSITG’s representative.
Other good news – the NSITG has £10,000 to spend on free courses for the sector.
Want your share? Why not send their secretary, Ian Major, an email so you can apply? His email address is: [email protected]
If you like drinking the pint but not paying for the round, another method for extracting funding toward training is via ConstructionSkills.
Pretty much all of us know what it means to be a ConstructionSkills levy-payer, but not so many are aware that for smaller businesses training grants from ConstructionSkills kick in before you get to the point of having to pay levy.
You can check out if you could benefit from this ‘in-scope’ status by going to: www.cskills.org/levy-grant/levy/index.aspx
An example of a really amazing funding deal for in-scope contractors comes from Esteem. Its training programme is associated with the Federation of Master Builders, but can be used up by non-FMB members.
The course on offer is the NVQ5 Management Diploma. It is usually £2,100, but email Krishma and she’s likely to apply funding to your enrolment to lower the price to £375+VAT.
Plus… If you are scribbling down the math, don’t forget that levy payers can claim back up to £650 per achiever for this qualification. The programme spans eight months of flexi-study facilitated through the black arts of Skype, Webinars and E-portfolios. Krishma’s email is [email protected]
Space is limited, so make contact now if you want to take part.
On a personal level, I am in the thick of it with both our on-site assessed NVQs and the specialist apprenticeship programme NVQs. Our range has been extended this autumn with the addition of Paving installer, Site Technician, Construction Site Management and Heritage Façade Preservation.
These are in addition to the existing programme of Façade Preservation, Stonemasonry (with its various specialisms – Cutting, Banker Mason, Cladding, Fixer Mason, Floor Fixer, Repairing and Heritage Skills) and Site Supervision.
We even have some funding on offer.
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.