At a time when the skills shortage in the construction sector continues to have a ripple effect across the industry, we have teamed with one of our clients and Hertford Regional College (HRC) in order to support the next generation of bricklayers.
By providing the college’s bricklaying department with 37 metres of Masonry Support Systems and seven packs of bricks, we are enabling students to get hands-on experience not only with brick but also the associated products that go with it on high-rise buildings. It means that students become aware of new technologies and innovations prior to entering the industry. We catch up with Hertford lecturer Jack Dawson on this donation and how his students are looking to benefit from these much-needed materials.
The materials donated will be used by all learners in the bricklaying department. Initially they will be used by the L2 bricklayers on the new apprenticeship standard and the NVQ L3 brickwork apprentices who have an optional unit which is erecting masonry cladding within the workplace. The L3 learners will then supervise, by means of projects throughout the academic year, any L2 full time learners looking to progress onto an apprenticeship within the industry. The materials will also be used to stretch and challenge the L1 bricklaying learners. As you can see, this donation will have a major positive and direct impact on all bricklaying students at HRC.
How important is a donation such as this to the course?
I’ve worked in the department for 10-plus years and I have never known such a great donation. This donation is so important to our learners’ experience at the college and will support current industry practices for high-rise buildings and passive fire protection. This goes above and beyond what learners should expect at college, but it is exactly what employers are asking for.
Learners will gain skills in setting out and installing welded masonry support system and Titan system from IG Masonry Support. They will then be able to construct brickwork up to 4m within our workshop, therefore amplifying their hand skills over a large area. A key part of this is installing insulation, stainless steel cavity tray solutions and other passive fire protecting materials that conform to NHBC standards. These key industry skills will support learners as soon as they arrive on site where they will be able to support the bricklaying packages provided by large sub-contractors such as Winchmore Brickwork and Flahive Brickwork, both of which we have apprentice learners enrolled with HRC. Our learners will therefore be directly supporting the local and wider area of domestic and commercial developments.
What are your views on product innovation and masonry support systems?
The innovation of the systems installed at the college have benefitted the bricklaying industry, as more and more architects are requesting brick masonry be used for facade construction of high-rise buildings. Previously, alternative options such as pre-cast concrete panels and steel cladding were beginning to be the preferred method due to limited load bearing capacities of traditional masonry. The use of such innovative solutions are highlighting the skills bricklayers need to adapt and upskill their knowledge to support modern methods of construction. Our college is the ideal platform for the embryonic stage of this process to occur. We were also given a demonstration on the new stainless steel cavity tray solutions from Keyfix, a sister company of IG Masonry Support. Our learners were very excited to be given the opportunity to use these products at the college before being introduced in their workplace. This will allow bricklaying apprentices to be at the forefront of the installation of these innovative products and for the first time, it will mean learners will be able to offer peer support to the more seasoned bricklayers on-site. This supports the famous proverb “It is the greatest achievement of a teacher to enable his students to surpass him”. John G. Kemeny.