A programme designed to open construction careers to young people not in education, employment or training has launched in County Durham.
Esh Connexts is a seven-week employability skills project that will help 11 learners with an interest in construction who are hindered by a lack of knowledge and employability skills.
The programme is being run as a partnership between construction firm Esh Group and Durham County Council’s DurhamWorks youth employment initiative, which receives backing from the European Social Fund. During the next seven weeks the cohort will experience workshops on people skills, money skills, job applications and construction training. Volunteers from Esh Group’s 1,100-strong workforce will deliver the workshops at the firm’s Bowburn headquarters – including its new Esh Academy training facility.
Darush Dodds, head of responsible business and added value at Esh Group, explained: “Esh Connexts is designed to help those who’ve shown an interest in construction work, but might not have the knowledge, motivation or personal skills to be able to make the first steps into a career.
“Instead of putting them in front of professional trainers we think it’s valuable for Esh staff to be able to impart their experiences and knowledge in a more relaxed format.
“Our staff will cover a range of skills from leadership and health and safety through to environmental awareness and conduct in the workplace.”
Crucially learners will get the opportunity to complete CSCS cards – the vital certificates needed to work on any construction site.
As part of the programme the cohort also had the chance to meet Dale Morris, a former Esh Connexts student who is now head of architectural design at Homes by Esh – an Esh Group company. Dale, who is currently in the final year of a degree while working at Esh, began the programme in 2009 after starting an electrical engineering apprenticeship but not enjoying it.
He explained: “After school I didn’t know whether to go down the A Levels route or try and get a job straight away, and when the apprenticeship wasn’t working for me a careers adviser pointed me to Esh Connexts. After the programme I was taken on by Esh Developments – where I spent six and a half years as an architectural technician. Most recently I transferred to Esh Homes and was promoted to my current role. My experience is proof that if you put in hard work you can achieve.”
Esh Connexts learners will also be issued with Esh branded PPE, jackets, polo shirts and lanyards which they can keep following the programme. The programme is supported by the Foundation of Light SAFC, Barclays, O’Brien’s Waste and Groundwork North East & Cumbria.
One of the most valuable parts of the programme is the week-long work experience placement which will see learners spend time on real Esh Group sites across the North East. There is also three site visits throughout the seven-week period. At the close of the programme learners will present themselves and their experiences to a panel of business guests at Esh Academy. Our HR, training and apprentice team have taken an active role in the programme and it is hoped some of the cohort may be recruited on to an apprenticeship or traineeship at Esh Group.- Darush Dodds, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Added Value at Esh Group