Onsite Experience Hub turned caring Daniel’s life around
“Learning a new skill every day was one of the best feelings.”
Those words are from trainee joiner Daniel Skelly.
They are a very good example of how training for a new career can be enjoyable – and transform a life.
Like many people Daniel, 21, from Leicester, had a hard time in lockdown.
During the pandemic he cared for his mum, Juliet, who was sadly diagnosed with cancer.
Lockdown was, says Daniel, the worst time of his life and when Juliet passed away he was, understandably, “in a very bad place”.
“She used to say, ‘make sure you get in the construction trade because you’ll be sorted for life,” recalls Daniel.
“Those words gave me the kick up the backside I needed to get my life sorted.
“I was out of a job, and if I didn’t get a trade, I’d be made homeless. I had to take on my mum’s flat and everything when she died. It was horrible.”
Daniel’s fortunes began to change when he joined the Leicester City Council’s Onsite Construction Hub.
That’s where he fully heeded his Mum’s advice and began learning a trade, as an aspiring joiner.
The Onsite Experience Hub, run by the council and co-funded by CITB, offers training and job opportunities for people seeking work in the construction industry.
It gives learners invaluable experience, in particular the site-ready qualifications local construction employers are crying out for.
Daniel says he gained a lot from training. His progress was boosted by the fact he found it so enjoyable.
“There were people from all different backgrounds and ages on the training programme course,” he says, “and we all ended up being quite good mates at the end of it.”
In one five-day training programme Daniel learned about asbestos awareness, health and safety, abrasive wheels, manual handling and working from heights.
“It was brilliant because I went from knowing absolutely nothing about the construction trade to learning nearly everything you can, within a week, for the CSCS test.”
When Daniel finished the course, he was given a work experience placement with Leicester-based retail design and build specialist Thomson Hayes.
“It’s really good, everyone is friendly,” says Daniel.
“On the placement I’ve learnt how to make high-end units for companies like Christian Dior or Aveda, or even things for Harrods’ beauty.
“Learning a new skill every day was one of the best feelings. It gives you a lot of self-confidence, a feeling of pride that your work is going to be in such a high-end store like Harrods.”
“Since the Hub began in April 2021 it has supported 305 individuals to complete their CSCS Training,” says Onsite Construction Hub Manager, Richard Thorpe.
“Over 130 people have become job and site-ready after successful work experience placements.”
The Hub has supported individuals from various backgrounds including ex-offenders, long term unemployed, women, college students and ethnic minority groups.
“Our focus is on supporting people who want a career in construction and enabling them to gain valuable industry related skills no matter where they’re from,” says Richard.
The Leicester Hub has so far helped over 120 individuals gain construction jobs such as Labourers, Site Supervisors and Managers.
“To name a few success stories,” says Richard, “there’s Egidijus who completed his CSCS Course and is now a Site Supervisor with GRJ Contracting.
“Ben completed a college course then gained a CSCS Card, with our support, to be an Apprentice Painter with Ashby Decorators.
“And then there’s Emmy who left the care sector and gained a role as a demolition operative with AR Demolition.”
CITB Commissioner Rohan Cheriyan says with a tough economic time predicted, construction is an industry with good long-term prospects.
“CITB’s skills forecast estimates that over 50,000 new construction workers will be needed to meet employers demand each year between now and 2026,” says Rohan.
“The Onsite Experience Hub in Leicester, as well as the ones CITB have funded around the country, provide opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Hubs will help them find work.
“It’s heart-warming to see how Daniel came thorough a tough time. He’s an inspiring example to anyone enduring difficult circumstances. Life can change if you make the most of opportunity. The construction industry will give you a chance if you have a good attitude and are willing to learn.”
Since Daniel has been with Thomson Hayes, he has built up his experience. He has also had opportunities to work abroad.
“His determination and willingness to learn has been great and I am sure he will go far in his career as a skilled joiner,” says Richard.
Daniel is grateful for his late Mum’s advice and the opportunity he was given by the Hub and Thomson Hayes.
“Now I’ve been through the Hub I don’t know how to thank them enough,” he says.
“From the bottom of my heart it’s given me the best opportunity that I could ever have asked for.
“It’s set me up for my career for life.
“Hopefully, I’ll be a qualified joiner and get my life sorted just trying to make my mum and my daughter proud.”
Interested in being part of the Hub in Leicester? It offers a free entry programme into construction. You will gain industry skills to support you to become site-ready before undertaking work experience with a local employer. Please contact Richard Thorpe: Richard.Thorpe@leicester.gov.uk