More than 550 construction classes for school pupils in Salford were delivered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – thanks to the ForHousing Skills Centre.
The country may have been in lockdown but students were able to access courses in bricklaying, tiling and joinery to give them a foundation for a potential future in the trades.
ForHousing’s Skills Centre runs the School Links project which works with schools and colleges to provide multi skilled qualifications in construction to key stage 4 students who are struggling in mainstream education.
The challenges posed by COVID-19 meant a change in teaching methods – with portfolios dropped off at students’ houses and theory work delivered remotely through Snapchat and WhatsApp sessions.
Kade Dardis, aged 16 from Little Hulton was involved in anti-social behaviour, but after completing Level 1 in Multi Trade Construction Activities he has been offered an Electrical Apprenticeship with award winning national property services firm Liberty.
This opportunity is helping him turn his life around.
Talking about the Schools Link programme at the Skills Centre, Kade said: “In my opinion it’s the best thing for kids like me who had trouble with school because it’s designed just for us and helps us develop in all sorts of skills such as brickwork, tiling, joinery and more.
“But there’s more to it than that. The people at the Skills Centre are the reason I have a job today and I’m very grateful for the opportunity I have been given.”
Kade is now a mentor for other students and is setting a positive example with his conscientiousness and positive attitude.
Thanks to the efforts of staff, who made many hours of calls to ensure that students had the right levels of access to all learning content, 27 students qualified during the pandemic.
This means the Skills Centre successfully managed to support a similar number of young people to achieve qualifications during the pandemic as in 2019.
In addition, 16 (59%) students from last year’s cohort have moved on into education, employment or training.
The Skills Centre team has received formal recognition for their dedication to developing the students from Salford City Council and the Alternative Education Children’s service lead in their annual review of Alternative Provision.
Debbie Attwood, group director of People at ForHousing, said: “We believe in making more things possible for more people and it’s fantastic to see so many young people like Kade still benefiting from the School Links programme during the pandemic.
“By gaining experience at the Skills Centre, students gain knowledge of the working world and an understanding of working in the construction sector that will stand them in good stead.
“We’re really proud that the ForHousing School Links project has supported 13 young people so far to gain apprenticeships in the trades.”
John Jordan, project coordinator for Salford City Council, said: “I have seen with my own eyes how the workshop experience and the staff in it literally turn young people’s lives around.
“They have helped create apprenticeships for some of the students and I have seen the young people grow in maturity and personal pride.
“It’s a special place doing special things with top staff who know how to get the best out of young people.”
ForHousing’s School Links programme is just one of a number of initiatives the landlord offers through its Bright Futures scheme to fuel people’s potential through employment and training opportunities.
In the past year alone, Bright Futures has helped 24 people to get into work or secure an apprenticeship, provided 26 work experience opportunities, supported 44 people to gain qualifications and helped 18 new businesses launch.
ForHousing, along with fellow ForViva Group member Liberty, also hope to create 80 six- month job placements as part of the Government’s Kickstart scheme by December 2021.
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