A beneficiary of a life-changing scheme has told how it boosted her confidence and helped her forge a career in the construction industry.
Amy Richards was unemployed, seeking Universal Credit, and unsure about her next steps before her nana spotted the Gateway to Construction programme on a Facebook post.
Funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority via Hartlepool College of Further Education – and alongside the Seymour Skills Academy – the five-week scheme offers a pathway for a career in construction.
Amy took on the course – picking up new skills and knowledge around plant and machinery, and training within an 11-acre, real-life construction site environment. She hasn’t looked back since – and the 29-year-old is now one of the leading lights at Seymour Civil Engineering.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This is exactly what we want Gateway to Construction to do. Amy’s story goes to show how our vital work with further education providers and important local employers opens doors.
“Offering real life hands-on experience gives our vastly talented workers the opportunities they need to thrive in their careers. The structure, training and confidence both young people and adults can gain through this scheme is phenomenal.
“Our joint efforts to make people realise their potential can truly change lives across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”
Amy said she was blown away by what was available on the five-week course. The real-life construction site offered hands-on experience with support every step of the way.
After enrolling onto the programme, those taking part are worked with one-to-one to help develop a bespoke training programme unique to their own career goals. They also have access to support to create an up-to-date CV.
Once the training is complete, a final exit interview helps those enrolled create an action plan to move into work. Seymour recruits directly from the programme alongside efforts with national and local employers to support graduates into work.
Amy completed a huge raft of industry recognised qualifications including NRASWA Streetworks, Emergency First Aid, CSCS Green Card, Abrasive Wheels, Asbestos Awareness, as well as NPORS Novice Training for the categories: Excavator 360, Forward Tipping Dumper, Ride on Roller and Slinger Signaller.
After completing the course, Amy landed a full-time job with Seymour Civil Engineering working as a General Operative at Seymour Skills Academy.
Now she is thriving.
“My job is different every day,” said Amy. “I can be moving plant to set up for courses starting, working on preparing hot lay, helping with groundwork, or even assisting site instructors with the courses.”
The programme equipped her with the essential industry knowledge and skills needed for the job. But it also gave Amy the tools she needed to build her self-esteem.
She said: “I was facing confidence issues and didn’t think I could ever do a job like this – but my instructor helped me re-gain confidence in myself.
“I’d love to become an instructor to help bring more women into the construction industry and help support people in achieving their goals. The Gateway to Construction course has made me look at a lot of things differently.
“I now know where I want to go in my career and feel much more positive about my future as I can see the path I want to take.”
The Adult Education Budget aims to offer “second chance” opportunities for adults aged 19+.
The TVCA is responsible for the Adult Education Budget for the region after it was devolved to the combined authority from the Education Skills Funding Agency in 2019.
Donna King, Training Academy Manager at Seymour Skills Academy, said: “Through the Adult Education Budget being available locally, Seymour Skills Academy has been able to make construction training more accessible.
“The Construction industry has huge challenges with skills shortages, which is why ensuring a continuous pipeline of diverse emerging talent has never been more important.
“Through the Gateway to Construction course, Seymour Civil Engineering has taken on over 20 candidates and in this last financial year, alone we have seen 121 people go into employment following completion of the course.
“It is through this accessibility that we have developed great assets, like Amy who has joined our team and has become a great advocate for Women in Construction.
“She now has ambitions to become a trainer herself – this would have never been possible if it wasn’t for the Adult Education Budget supporting the Gateway to Construction Course.”
To find out more about Adult Skills provision in the Tees Valley, visit: https://teesvalley-ca.gov.uk/skills-employment/skills/adult-skills/