It’s not a Project, it’s a Vision

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Our commitment to the provision of green growth skills and Regeneration in Construction is what sets us apart as a Training Provider. We are the first in our region to prioritise the need for a future workforce in this area and as such, the current recruitment of our inhouse green team will play a pivotal role in redefining the industry. 

But what exactly brought us here?

I want to shine a light on the contract that changed the wind beneath our sails as a business, and the opportunity that gave us a real vision for the future!

Prior to moving into the RE:GEN Group (tag), my team and I were going through a rapid growth period when it came to contract wins and the unlocking of funding for a variety of opportunities for our learners. Most notably through our 19-24 Traineeship contract through B Skills.

For those who don’t know, a Traineeship perfectly blends the gaining of qualifications and skills with real hands-on experience to give learners the full 360, boosting their employability and confidence in one, to help them get onto the career ladder. It is a fully funded programme typically granted for those who are 19-24 year old, currently out of work and not in any type of formal education.

From the office to on-site, the demand for skilled professionals in the Construction sector is at an all-time high! That’s why the securing of funding to deliver to our new BUILD UP Construction traineeship programme was so poignant. The BUILD programme is dedicated to combatting these construction skills shortages head on, serving the individual as well as the industry.

When meeting with RE:GEN way back when, as one of our employer partners within the Construction sector, we soon realised how aligned our values and mission were. Both our businesses have a passion for people, and we are dedicated to nurturing and developing those who truly want to shine.

RE:GEN as an employer, loved the idea of the BUILD UP Traineeship programme but two pain-points were identified within the initial draft. Firstly, the eligibility criteria for the funding – most notably around age and employment status. How can you possibly make a difference when you only help a minority, and not the majority? Together, we made the decision to open the programme to all ages. Investing in those who weren’t originally eligible for the funding.

Secondly, beyond just “traditional” construction roles, comes a growing need for sustainable green skills within Construction. RE:GEN quantified their green growth skills gaps up to 2024 which gave us a real insight into the future of the industry. Businesses need to seriously realign the way they operate with the emerging green economy. We know from discussions with our partners, like RE:GEN that this will present a range of challenges for them. For instance, upskilling their existing workforce so no one is left behind in the transition, recruiting the right talent for new jobs and ensuring a well-structured programme to do both of these successfully. Combine that with the fact that when we survey all learners upon commencement of our traineeships, less than 5% know who David Attenborough is, or anything about the climate crisis at all…. there’s a real disconnect when it comes to GREEN!

So, with RE:GEN’s support and backing, we spent over 50 hours across an 8 week timeframe to adjust the BUILD UP programme as we knew it, in order to pilot a new approach, packed to the rafters with bespoke modules, inclusivity and a strong focus on green – enter the RE:geon Project.

The RE:geon Project was developed to meaningfully address the skills shortage in the construction sector;  designed to deliver the skills training required to support business growth in the retrofit and green energy sector, with no barriers to eligibility. This isn’t supposed to be a ‘one fits all programme’ – instead our aim is to use it as a springboard to deliver bespoke employer-led programmes for specific skills.

The objective is to increase local employment numbers and address the skills shortage through sustainable, meaningful employment opportunities tailored to individual learner needs, aptitudes and capabilities.

The RE:geon Project enables us to educate the younger generation on the global crisis and its impact specifically on domestic retrofit. It takes a global view and then breaks it right down into local actions, and even individual responsibilities that we all must consider for the preservation of our people and our planet.

Our RE:geon pilot clearly demonstrated the huge gains in progression when the employer is at the forefront.  Out of the 9 trainees who took part, 6 successfully progressed into full time apprenticeships, equating to a 67% conversion rate. By comparison with a provider-led programme that we ran in parallel, we saw 21 progressions out of 55, equating to a 37% progression rate.

By also removing the eligibility criteria around age and employment status, we could engage 100% of our applicants with a predicted 67% progression rate into sustainable apprenticeships. RE:GEN’s forecasted employee growth has also increased by nearly 40% as a result.

Based on the success of our pilot, we submitted a case study to the NELEP, local authorities and colleges. Within a week we had a response from the NELEP to say that Sanjee Ratnatunga, the Director of Ideas for Change, who is advising the Government on the region’s readiness to deliver green skills wanted to request a meeting with Lee Francis and I to discuss our model. (Talk about a WOW moment!!!)

Soon after our case study was submitted, the eligibility for the new skilled boot camps funding changed to become available to both the unemployed and employed from 19+. We were invited to tender for it along with new innovative funding called the green growth skills fund. It was in that moment when I realised that what we had achieved was more than just a 2-year project. It was a vision.

One that had the power to not only change the direction of our business but at industry level, had the power to redefine the future of Construction & Further Education too.

If you had said to me a few years ago that I would be sat at the forefront of something so new and innovative, I certainly wouldn’t have believed you. RE:geon has exceeded my wildest dreams in terms of the impact we can have on people, both internally and externally. As the need for GREEN grows within RE:geon, we are seeking a team of the very best officers, tutors and assessors to support us in this new movement. If you’d like to be part of this incredible journey, where the sky really is the limit, then please feel free to reach out to me directly or visit our About Us Page.

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