Since their inception, Apprenticeships have been a way for individuals leaving education or looking for a vocation switch, to forge a career in the area of their choice whilst also earning a wage.

It’s widely accepted that the last decade has seen significant changes to traditional ways of working, from more flexible attitudes towards working hours to an ageing population. As approaches to working life shift, it makes sense to rethink and revitalize education and job entry points for individuals looking to make long-term career choices.

The new Trailblazer scheme has been created by the government in conjunction with a working group of representatives from leading companies to encourage young people, career shifters and those who require new skills or who are without a formal qualification into specific industries. With the new Trailblazer, standards are set by the industry sector, for the industry sector. This ensures that the most relevant skills and behaviours desired by future employers are developed and honed with new talent. The benefits are anticipated to extend beyond just the learner, to their employers and the sector as a whole.

Getting The Demolition Trailblazer Started

In September 2018, a Trail Blazer Group for an official ‘Demolition Operative Apprenticeship Standard’ was formed and subsequently received official approval from the government. The group was made up of ten top demolition employers – all of whom happened to be NFDC accredited Member Companies.  The group worked tirelessly to define, fine-tune and agree on the standards required and the first cohort of students started on the scheme in June 2019.

Requirements for entry to the scheme are Level 1 English and Maths, and the Level 2 must be taken before the end of Trailblazer. Open to all school leavers aged 18 and over, the typical duration of the Trailblazer is 24 months. During that time, candidates will earn a full-time wage relevant to the National Minimum wage for their age group.

The Benefits of Apprenticeships For Employers

Integral to the Apprenticeship premise is the idea of furnishing people with the skills, training, knowledge and behaviours required to start contributing positively to the work environment they are joining.  There are other significant benefits for employers too.  Both the government and the CITB have funding options available for companies who want to take on an Apprentice. The funding covers many of the costs of taking on a new trainee, making Trailblazer a truly viable option for growing your workforce with enthusiastic and motivated individuals, who will ultimately be highly competent assets. As well as financial assistance towards the cost of employing and paying the Apprentice, taking on a trainee with a desire to grow their career in demolition can have an extremely positive impact on your workforce as a whole.

Ensuring The Right Skills and Knowledge Are Being Taught

The NDFC is an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) for the Demolition Trailblazer. This means that they administer the practical element of the test and the interview segment.

Trailblazer Apprenticeships will be assessed on a series of standards, competencies and skills decided by the nominated Trailblazer group. This means that individuals can follow a clear career path and employers can be certain that any Demolition Operative Apprentices they take on are suitably qualified for the type of work they are going to be doing on-site. It’s an exciting scheme and NFDC is proud to have had so many member companies involved in the development and implementation of. We spoke to Aaron Davis, Group Learning & Development Manager at Keltbray Group, who has been involved with the Trailblazer scheme from the start, about how the first training sessions were received.

“In partnership with London South East Colleges (LSEC), we delivered the first 5 days of what will be a 2-year scheme created for the Demolition Industry by those who work in it. This first cohort of 13 individuals selected from over 50 applicants were enthusiastic, gave the lessons the attention they required and asked all the relevant questions. The sessions culminated in them achieving Asbestos Awareness and the Demolition Labourer’s course by the close of the week. A fair achievement and recognition of the effort they put in considering over 90% have not even set foot on a site yet! Armed with CCDO Apprentice cards and a large dose of enthusiasm and optimism they are now out on-site with their respective employers gaining experience and skills. The greatest part of this scheme so far is that they wanted to join the demolition industry and were successful in gaining the apprenticeship places offered. Now it’s over to all of us to show them what this diverse and fantastic industry has to offer.“

We’ll be keeping up to date with the progress of our first Trailblazer Demolition Operative Apprentices right here on the NDTG blog and we trust that the brand new Trailblazer scheme will enthuse a new generation of demolition experts!