Groundforce Support Boosts Pilot Apprenticeship Scheme

17 May

The training division of Groundforce is helping Solent CEGA with men and materials.

Groundforce Training is supporting a pioneering apprenticeship scheme.

Groundforce Training Services has provided equipment and expertise through an excavation safety trainer, to deliver sessions on shoring and deep excavation training to the Civil Engineering and Groundworks Apprenticeship (CEGA) pilot scheme.

The first session was held at the Civil Engineering Training Centre (CETC) based at a satellite facility of Fareham College, on HMS Daedalus in Lee-on-Solent. Further sessions are planned over the coming months.

The first apprenticeship period was launched in September by the Solent Civil Engineering Employers’ Group, a consortium of 12 Hampshire civil engineering employers.

Their aim is to provide young people, the unemployed, ex-offenders and ex-servicemen and women with the opportunity to receive 20 weeks of intensive training at the start of their CITB apprenticeship. This will help start them on a career path in civil engineering, with no limits as to where that start may one day lead in the industry.

The training is carried out in a former World War 1 aircraft hangar. The Groundforce sessions deliver both theoretical and practical shoring training, with donated Groundforce equipment such as trench sheets and boxes and waling frames.

Believed to be the first employer-led apprenticeship scheme, and therefore the subject of intensive industry scrutiny, the Solent CEGA comprises 20 weeks of intensive training. This includes two separate weeks on site with employer/sponsor in the area, and is aimed at getting apprentices site ready to then carry on working towards their NVQ CITB apprenticeship award.

Solent CEGA member Kevin Miskella, owner director of Stockbridge-based Carlton Civil Engineering, said the scheme had been set up in response to skills shortages and to improve the knowledge levels of CITB apprentices as they arrive to site at the start of their two-year courses.

The scheme launched with 38 groundworkers (from a 127-applicant base) and  will recruit another 40. All successful apprentices receive a certification required to work with a variety of construction equipment such as dumpers, rollers, CATs and Gennies. They are guaranteed a job with their employer sponsor at the end of the training period.

Kevin said the support offered by Groundforce Training Services has been “absolutely overwhelming.”

He added: “The response I got from Groundforce management, in the way they received the idea and their energy and efforts since, has been fantastic. I feel very proud to be involved with this initiative and am so pleased with the response we have had from partners such as Groundforce.”

Groundforce Training Services general manager Chris Gearren said: “We are excited to play a small part in the upskilling of the individuals completing the Solent CEGA.

“The 12 employers supporting this project felt strongly that Groundforce, as industry leaders, should be involved. This not only shows the strength of the Groundforce brand, our temporary works capabilities, and specialist equipment solutions, but also shows the importance of our continued investment in the Groundforce Training division.

“Importantly, the opportunity to engage with CEGA provides us with a unique chance to display the strength of Groundforce and the importance of safety in and around excavations to a new generation.”