Transfer your military skills into construction with Building Heroes
The military charity that provides fully funded construction and engineering training for veterans, service leavers and their families, has now launched a veteran-only property maintenance company.
If you’re considering a career in construction, then military charity Building Heroes provides the perfect starting point. Established in 2014, the organisation now delivers its training programme at 12 centres across the country and recently celebrated its 1000th graduate.
Aiming to tackle unemployment amongst those who have kept us safe by offering them a seamless transition to a new career in construction, Building Heroes currently provides 5-week Construction Skills and Engineering Operations courses that can easily be fitted in to your resettlement timetable. The construction course offers a grounding in bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, painting and decorating, tiling and carpentry/joinery, while the engineering course includes using abrasive wheels, hand tools and power tools, hand fitting techniques, forming and assembling pipework systems and general fabrication and welding. All courses include a formal qualification as well as Health & Safety training and the chance to earn your CSCS card, a must for working on construction sites. Service leavers, veterans and all the forces family are welcome to apply, and all courses are at no-cost to the learner.
Following the course, the organisation will look to support graduates into employment, self-employment or further training within the industry, through its network of national and regional employers, which include industry giants Wates, Barratt Homes, Eurovia, Vistry Group, Engie, Bouyges and VolkerWessels. Everyone on the course is supported by an RWPO (Recruitment, Welfare & Progression Officer). The officer acts as the main point of contact for learners, offering welfare support for the duration of the course and up to six months after the course, plus assisting in finding suitable onward career pathways. The choice of careers available is vast. While many graduates have set up as self-employed maintenance operatives, or started property development businesses, others have secured jobs as Trainee Site Managers, School Caretakers, Mechanical Testing Engineers, Building Managers, Trainee Carpenters, Highways Maintenance Operatives, Yard Managers, Labourers, Gas Engineers, Health and Safety Officers and so on.
The team behind Building Heroes has a plethora of experience and talent within the construction industry, interspersed with personnel familiar with education development, recruitment, mental health support, employability skills and, of course, the military and resettlement phase. They include Chief Executive, Brendan Williams, who was born into a long line of specialist Master Bricklayers and who helped start the charity in 2014. Alongside Brendan, you will find employees such as Employer Engagement Officer Simone Halliwell, who has vast experience of military relocation having married into the armed forces, alongside having a son who now serves in the Royal Navy, and RWPO John Simpson who has served a combined total of 35 years in the military and the Home Office.
Building Heroes Property Services
When you graduate from the Building Heroes Education Foundation you will have the opportunity to apply to join Building Heroes Property Services, a veteran-only Property Maintenance company. This initiative has been set up to provide a direct progression pathway for Building Heroes graduates (alongside other skilled veterans working in the industry, such as Electricians and Gas Engineers) into the property maintenance industry, linking a community of local military tradespeople with customers looking for home improvements and other maintenance services. Building Heroes Property Services was launched in Colchester and Portsmouth in November, two forces-friendly cities with high concentrations of Building Heroes graduates, with plans to expand nationally throughout 2021.
Brendan Williams explains why ex-forces provide such a good fit for the construction industry. “They’re always on time, they never let you down and they work in teams very easily. They bring reliability, resilience, problem solving and a desire to work, they’re not shirkers, they’re workers. Creating new opportunities for veterans is really important, and my experience is that they’re great staff. I tend to tell the employers we work with, ‘Don’t hire one, hire a few. If you hire a few they’ll improve the productivity of your organisation dramatically.”
Alongside the Property Services company, the Building Heroes Education Foundation also has plans to expand its offer next year with new training centres in the West Midlands and South Wales, and the introduction of ‘pop-up’ centres.
Following a partnership with Sherford Skills Centre in Plymouth – where Building Heroes trainees were taught on the site of a huge housing development, thereby providing excellent links to local job opportunities – the charity plans to set up more ‘pop-up’ training sites linked directly to large-scale, long-term builds across the UK. It is also looking to diversify its training offer to cover key construction disciplines such as Introduction to the Built Environment and Groundworks and Civils.
The charity’s Chief Operating Officer Karen Jefford told us: ‘The building industry is such a great route for service leavers. They bring a great number of transferable skills, and as an essential service, it’s one industry that hasn’t stopped during the current crisis. With Boris Johnson’s Build Back Better initiative, it’s a fantastic industry that continues to grow, and we aim to grow with it.’
Our graduate Dean Horton on how our Construction Skills course helped him find employment.
”Since the course, I applied for a job as a Trainee Assistant Site Manager with Barratt Developments and I was successful. I have utilised so many skills from the course. I am able to manage and communicate effectively with the trades on site because of the insight the course gave me; having a basic knowledge of what the trades do and how they do it has given me a lot of credibility. I enjoy the working environment, which is very similar to the military environment. I enrolled on the course with a plan to be self employed as a handyman, however, the course gave me such a fantastic insight into the construction industry and opened my eyes to other opportunities. I am eternally grateful for the experience and how it has led me to where I am now. The Building Heroes course has, without doubt, contributed to me being successfully employed in the construction industry and in a job that has excellent prospects.”
Ross Ardley on how he’s building his own business, and joining Property Services!
“The course helped me mentally and physically and gave me confidence with the knowledge that I could do this as a career. I have completed two house renovations, and some work on local shops. I’m now on my third house renovation and am looking into K Rendering and specialising in this, as it is a big thing within the building trade at the moment. I joined the Building Heroes Property Services team because after 22 years of helping my country I wanted to continue helping people alongside my fellow ex-service men and women. I made a friend on the course who I have hooked up with to work on and share jobs with, and other graduates I can call on to help out if I need. It’s great to develop that sense of community outside of the services.”
Plymouth graduate Zoe on how Building Heroes gave her a second chance.
“You don’t realise that you’ve been in this protected bubble, it’s so easy to feel lost. When I left the Army, I was in that difficult transition phase, with no idea of what I wanted to do next. Before I joined the Armed Forces, I tried to get an apprenticeship in construction, but there just wasn’t an opportunity for me. Building Heroes has given me a second chance. It’s the best course I could have gone on. They didn’t just teach us the hands-on skills we needed, in just a few weeks they changed how we all felt. I feel confident with everything I’ve learnt, so much so that I’m going to work on my own house. I got to meet Steve from Steve Hoskin Construction Ltd on the course, sent them my CV, went to a couple of interviews, and got the job offer I wanted – it was amazing! The course helped me find exactly what I wanted to do and gave me the introduction I needed. I enjoyed everything we learnt throughout the course, but the health and safety side became the one thing that I really wanted to do. So, I’m really excited to be starting my career as a Health and Safety Advisor.”
You can apply for a course at www.buildingheroes.org.uk or book a Building Hero to do some work around your property at propertyservices.buildingheroes.org.uk
Building Heroes is a registered charity and as a result anyone can help the initiative by donating. Donations can be made via its website.