Onsite Experience Hub helps Willow put skills into practice
When aspiring joiner Willow Kehily was made redundant from her job in retail, she made a bold decision.
The Cardigan-based mum decided to re-skill and pursue her interest in carpentry.
It was a risky move.
But it paid off.
Within days of starting onsite construction training Willow knew she had made the right choice.
Willow's enterprising change began at Coleg Ceredigion’s Cardigan Campus. There, she learned about an Onsite Experience Placement Scheme offering people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to start a construction career.
“I’m pursuing a joinery career as I want a role with increased security,” says Willow, “one which will allow me to develop a skillset to support myself and my son long-term.
“He’s at the age where he doesn’t think twice about my occupation. It’s important to me that he continues to see his mum in a strong role and represented in a male-dominated industry.”
Willow's Onsite Experience placement, at Wynne Construction's Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi site, was her first chance to put her classroom learning into practice in a work setting.
Her 10-day placement with the Bodelwyddan-based construction firm confirmed her career-change was the correct decision.
“Working on the school has been a major milestone in my career as it is my first go at the job,” says Willow.
“After only a few days on the site, I was 100 percent sold on the career path.
“In college you learn the basics, which are obviously fundamental, but seeing how the skills developed in the classroom play out practically and getting a taste for life on site alongside the team at Wynne, has been brilliant.
“Days might be fast paced, but I was never made to feel like my questions were too time-consuming.
"The team really took the time to offer guidance at every step. Nothing was ever too much trouble for anyone at Wynne.”
Willow, a former psychology student, is on one of many Onsite Experience Hub placements facilitated by Wynne Construction.
The company aims to provide over 100 work experience placements and 250 apprenticeships by 2025.
“Encouraging onsite experience can inspire under-represented groups to pursue a career in the industry,” says Alison Hourihane, Social Value Manager, Wynne Construction.
“Willow is a brilliant example of how providing these opportunities may help those interested in construction re-skill and find out what they truly enjoy.
"It has the added benefit of boosting employment locally and widening the pool of talent we work with.”
The South West Wales Onsite Experience Hub is funded by CITB and coordinated by Cyfle Building Skills.
Cyfle are leading delivery of the scheme across five local authority areas in Wales: Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.
Anthony Rees, Cyfle Regional Manager, says a benefit of the scheme is that people in the early stages of their training rarely get this kind of work experience before taking on an apprenticeship.
“It’s a win-win situation,” says Anthony.
“People in the local area don’t have to look far for valuable experience.
“Contractors building in the region can access nearby talent for its supply chain.”
The Onsite Experience Hub offers career opportunities to those under-represented in industry, people not in education, employment or training as well as potential career changers.
CITB Commissioner Rohan Cheriyan said: “Willow’s progress is a great example of teamwork, of three organisations partnering for skills to benefit their community and, more widely, the UK construction industry.
“The impact of the Onsite Experience Hubs in Wales has been excellent. Over 600 people gained construction skills in the first 18 months of the Hubs, training which made them site-ready for employers.
“I’m pleased to say that funding on the Onsite Experience project in South West Wales has been extended to March 2025 so there will be a lot more opportunities for people considering a construction career in the region.”
Over 16? Interested in being part of the Onsite Experience project? You can contact your local Onsite Experience hub in Wales here.