Are you in the West Midlands and looking to start your career? Or are you recently unemployed and interested in a fresh start? Perhaps you’re in work and considering a new career path?

It’s easier than ever to upskill, retrain or join the construction industry. Read on to find out more.

Levelling up

It’s an exciting time for construction in the West Midlands.

Birmingham will sit at the heart of HS2, the new high-speed rail network, with the new Curzon Street Station becoming one of the most environmentally friendly stations in the world. The Commonwealth Games were a huge success, with groundbreaking stadia and infrastructure built by the local industry. New housing developments are taking shape up across the area, such as at Perry Barr, revitalising entire communities.

This has led to an influx of new well-paid, rewarding construction jobs which help drive the local economy. To meet demand and fill vacancies, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have launched a new construction industry training plan: Pathways to Progression.

It increases the range and flexibility of training available, creates simple pathways to progress through careers and raises awareness of the many opportunities in construction.

Pathways to Progression

The ultimate goal is to level the playing field and improve prospects. And this is more important than ever following the impact of the pandemic. Covid affected all of us, but young people, those working on the front line, and people from BAME communities disproportionally bore the brunt – especially financially.

This is where opportunities in construction can help. Jobs in the industry are well paid, offer transferable workplace skills and come with excellent progression routes. But sometimes we all need a little help to take the first step on the ladder or accelerate our careers.

WMCA are teaming up with colleges, training providers and employers to create accessible training routes across the West Midlands, whilst providing individuals with opportunities to grow and develop their careers.

Here’s some of the programmes currently available.

The Construction Gateway

The Construction Gateway Scheme aims to find local, high-quality jobs for people wanting to join the construction industry.

Through the Construction Gateway you can access formal, entry level construction training, either in the classroom or through practical onsite experience. You will gain a CSCS card by taking part in the scheme – which are essential to working on most construction sites.

A wide range of training programmes are on offer, from traditional trades such as plastering or dry lining, to more in-depth courses such as Level 2 NVQ in rail engineering track maintenance or plant operations. The green technology courses are also proving extremely popular, with an ever-increasing number of green jobs becoming available.

Find a course near you.

Sector Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs)

If you’re unemployed, SWAPs are the perfect way to get back into the world of work. They are work placements delivered in conjunction with employers who are recruiting, helping you develop the skills required to gain a job in construction. Also, while you’re in training you will not lose your benefits!

SWAPs typically last 6 weeks (although some specialist programmes can last up to 16 weeks) and are made up of three parts:

  • Pre-employment training
  • Work experience placements
  • A guaranteed job interview or help with an employer’s recruitment process.

SWAPs are available at colleges throughout the West Midlands – find out more here.

Technical Training

Construction in the West Midlands is booming. And new workers are particularly needed in certain occupations, such as roofing, plant operations, plumbing and more.

WMCA and Colleges West Midlands have developed a range of Level 3 technical training courses that will enhance your current education level and increase your skills so you can pursue a rewarding career in construction. The courses allow you to upskill and retrain whilst you continue to work, some of which are free. 

Find out more here.

Flexible training

A key part of the plan is a more flexible approach to training.

Blended learning, which combines online and in-person learning, has proved extremely popular – especially with young people – so this will be offered on many of the programmes above. This also includes more part-time training, so that those in work, or with caring or family responsibilities can fit training around their busy lives.

More information

For further information about the WMCA training plan and how it can help you, download their comprehensive brochure here.

To find a learning provider near you, or for more tailored guidance on your next step – check out Colleges West Midlands.

If you’re a young person and not sure what to do next, Youth Employment have an excellent bank of resources.

And don’t forget, Go Construct has all the information you need on the various routes into construction, including: