Northumberland Skills Plastering

Fast track course in plastering kickstarts more careers in construction  

To find out more about the next start date and other courses available visit: 

Anthony Slater enjoys taking on the challenge of home DIY projects for his family  - but it was not until he heard about Northumberland Skills’ new fast-track course in plastering through his local job centre, that he thought of channeling those skills into a new career.      
Now, just six weeks from picking up his handboard and trowel, Anthony has graduated with a UK recognised qualification, been put in touch with employers looking to recruit, and has his eyes on a full-time job in the industry or self-employment. 
A partnership between Northumberland Skills, the learning and skills arm of Northumberland County Council, and industry-leading British Gypsum - the intensive course aims to offer a taster and a foot in the door of the construction industry that's crying out for people skilled in the trades. 
“I’ve really enjoyed every aspect of it,” he said: “It’s been hard work and intensive as there’s a lot to learn in a short space of time. But I really feel now that I’ve got the confidence to go on to apply for full time jobs or to move into self-employment. Having a qualification will give me a foot in the door. 
 “You need a lot of patience and it’s almost therapeutic when you’re putting the plaster on. But it’s also quite physical too, which I enjoy. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning a new trade.” 
The course has been taking place at Northumberland Skills’ specialist construction campus at Seghill where there are also courses running for school leavers in electrical, construction, and multi-skills for those looking to lay foundations in a broader skillset.   
The qualification the learners receive is the NOCN Cskills Awards Level 2 Certificate Plaster Skimmer’ qualification.  
It is delivered by lecturer David Weatherburn, who turned to further education following his own successful career in plastering and construction.

Passionate about his trade,
he’s keen to inspire and encourage people from all walks of life to explore the opportunities the construction industry offers. 
He said: “The aim of this course is to introduce people to plastering as a skilled trade and give them a taster for what the industry is like.  
“Plastering is a finishing trade. It requires attention to detail and it’s about having that finesse and the touch of an angel’s wing, to make it look nice, crisp and perfect for the customer.  
“To be from where they were to where they are now in six short weeks is unbelievable. The learning curve has been like a rocketship and they’ve developed self-belief in their skills.   
They’ve risen to the challenge – they’ve excelled and gone beyond what I thought was possible and I’m proud to bring employers in and showcase their work. 
“Having the support from British Gypsum is brilliant and it’s so important to have the industry behind us – they care about the industry and they bring together learning providers and employers. 
“This was the first cohort, but we’re going to run more courses – we've got the facility, we’ve got industry and employers on board – this is just the beginning.” 
British Gypsum is known worldwide for being at the forefront of the industry through the development and use of dry-lining partitions, wall linings, ceiling sand plastering finishes. The firm is taking an innovative approach to tackling the skills gap by designing courses they hope can tap into untapped talent pools. 
Pete Baum, is Skills Partnerships Manager for British Gypsum, said: “The standard of work I’ve seen here today is really high. 
“The skills they have developed are fantastic. To have never picked up a trowel before to plastering a room to this standard gives them a good step into the industry. This is only the start of their learning programme and I’m sure they are going to flourish and take their careers forward.  
“We do this as there is huge skills shortage in the industry and we find it is a way to draw people in, give them the basic skillset and then engage with employers off the back of the course to enable them to enter into industry.  
“We see so many employers in the dry lining and plastering industry that say there is an aging workforce and noone coming into the industry. So it’s a way for us to tackle that. 
“I was a plasterer myself for many years and the joy I get out of this programme is seeing people who were in the same position as I was back at age 18 or 19 and not really knowing what I wanted to do – then to see the guys and girls coming on these courses, trying it, finding a real passion for it and going out there into the industry.”  
Joining the graduation ceremony was Jamie Gilroy, Contracts Supervisor from North East-based fire protection specialists Isoler, part of Northern Bear Group which provide specialist building services to local authorities, housing associations, NHS trusts, universities, construction companies and national house builders throughout the North East and beyond.  
Jamie said: “We’re expanding to meet rising demand for our services and need people skilled in a wide range of trades to support us to do that. It's been great to come along and see the high standard of work here today and courses like this are an important way to help us to bridge that skills gap by bringing more people into the sector." The course is just the latest in Northumberland Skills’ growing post-16 offer to school leavers and adults. 
As the learning and skills arm of Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Skills has been tasked with not just plugging the skills gap – but providing the skills that people need for meaningful employment.  
Along the road in the Port of Blyth, the new Welding and Fabrication Training Centre aims to address a similar skills gap in manufacturing and the green energy sector.  
A wide range of courses are also delivered at campuses across the county – aiming to offer the training people need as close to their homes as possible. 
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, is cabinet member for Inspiring Young People and his portfolio covers the council’s wider work to develop education and skills.  
He said: “We’re investing in our Northumberland Skills campuses across the county and equipping them with the excellent facilities and passionate staff who can pass on their skills and knowledge and inspire the next generation of people skilled in the trades that industry needs. 
“This a perfect example of everyone working together in Northumberland to tackle a skills gap, grow the economy and create rewarding, meaningful job opportunities for local people.” 

To find out more about the next start date and other courses available visit: 

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