John Woodward talking to children about a career in demolition
Russ Cockburn

Member Article

Boss bemoans lack of support for demolition skills

A Wolverhampton business owner has hit back at the Government’s obsession with mainstream apprenticeships by urging them to do more for the demolition sector.

John Woodward, founder of C&D Consultancy in Penn, believes his industry is in urgent need of ‘young blood’ if it is to meet its current and future commitments.

The industry expert estimates that more than 600 positions need to be filled, but a lack of funding and available apprenticeship courses are seriously restricting the search and development of new talent.

“There is a massive skills gap in demolition, especially for those young people looking to become engineers,” explained John, a former president of the Institute for Demolition Engineers.

“As it stands, there are no colleges or universities in the UK that offer apprenticeships or courses in this field and it makes it very tough to give new recruits the right training.”

He continued: “If we were looking to train the next generation of hairdressers, automotive engineers or digital media specialists – all valid careers in their own right – we’d have tens of options to choose from.

“Some people will also argue that there are operative apprenticeships and both the National Demolition Training Group and CSkills are pushing these. That’s great if you want to be a labourer or a plant operator, but not ideal for those looking at the more technical element of our industry.”

John formed C&D Consultancy in 2003 and has seen it become one of the leading demolition specialists in the country, coordinating a host of projects across the UK and Europe every year.

A team of 8 experts advises on initial planning, project management and one-off consultancy, as well as being brought in to turn around crisis jobs.

“Our business is growing nearly 20% year-on-year and we desperately need to increase our workforce. However, we are struggling to find the right people.

“We’re not asking for handouts, just the same playing field and subsidised training other sectors receive. Milliband and Cameron are banging the drum about apprentices, but seem to be forgetting about the industries that don’t automatically generate the column inches or could sway the swing voters.”

John, who is joined at the helm by Mike Kehoe, added: “We need the same education and training provision as automotive, aerospace, retail or professional services, especially if you don’t want troublesome buildings or structures preventing future infrastructure projects.”

C&D Consultancy has taken measures into its own hands, with the recruitment of Matty Bardgett and the impending arrival of Matt Birch, the latter set to join the company after completing work experience last year.

Both will be assigned an experienced mentor and will go through a bespoke apprentice programme, which will involve significant on-the-job training and completing industry courses designed by the firm.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Russ Cockburn .

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