In this article, Stuart Hicks, chief executive officer of the Institute of Roofing, offers RCI readers advice and guidance on home-based learning, and why upskilling is more important than ever.
In the current COVID-19 climate, working from home has become the norm. Research suggests that less than five per cent of the UK construction industry actually utilise ‘offsite techniques’, compared to 15% in Japan, and 20% in Sweden*. So, for some, this is a real change for their day-to-day working life and means we have had to become more adaptable as an industry.
The aim of the Institute of Roofing (IoR) is to encourage and support continual learning and career development for those with supervisory, management and ownership roles within the roofing industry. We have an important educational role to play for individuals and this has never been so vital as we live through some extraordinary times as a country.
Why training matters
Even if job security is uncertain as a result of the pandemic, it’s important to use this time wisely to upskill, think about training goals, qualifications you can add to your CV, and access the free information and guidance out there from trusted sources like industry associations.
As a sector, other organisations are also supporting this view. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) for example, recently announced it is widening the scope of its Skills and Training Fund to provide more cash for contractors during the coronavirus crisis.
The fund is now being expanded to cover bigger firms employing between 100 and 250 people and is open for applications with £14 million available for contractors to claim this year. Small and micro firms can also apply for up to £10,000 in training grants and medium firms can apply for up to £25,000.
Having this attitude towards training will ensure that when the national emergency comes to an end, which it will, the construction sector is equipped with the skills and resources it needs to help keep us building.
For employers, it makes more business sense to invest in employees. Well trained and knowledgeable teams reflect the business and can enhance the reputation of the company. You need to be able to rely on your workforce – and that can happen if they are treated well, with respect, and are recognised for their skills.
How to access online training
Members of the IoR receive one free online learning course a year, which cost £25 plus VAT each normally. These courses are independently certified by leading bodies and include Abrasive Wheels, Fire Safety, Working at Height, Manual Handling, First Aid, Asbestos Awareness and Fire Marshal. These are the six areas required to be covered for the RoofCERT accreditation programme, which provides individual roofers with visible proof of their essential roofing and safety management skills.
How IoR can support you
Access to information, guidance and training is more readily available now than it was before. Throughout 2020, we are improving our marketing communications, target media and social media presence and updating the website, to ensure people know they can come to the Institute for professional qualifications, further learning opportunities, guidance and information.
We have an online benefits portal of training and e-learning options with thousands of free courses, which can only be accessed by members, but we encourage them to share the information and knowledge using the tools from the portal with colleagues, family and friends. However, even if you’re not a member, anyone can sign-up and undertake our main online courses.
There have also been many questions being raised about what constitutes an ‘essential site’ or safe working environments during the current crisis. To help our industry, we have created a Coronavirus Advice webpage on the IoR website, with access to various government and industry body sources that contain the information you need and that are regularly updated.
As with any working environment we would recommend that the health and safety of all workers is considered as part of your risk assessment, and method statement, and any action required is both communicated and acted upon by those responsible.
Working from home can potentially have an impact on your mental health if, like many, you are used to being out on-site, meeting clients or working closely with colleagues. Days can seem long, unproductive and unstructured. By setting yourself training goals, it can offer a sense of achievement, and help to look more positively to the future.