Mansfield college helps Army heroes build fresh careers

A new partnership between a Mansfield college and a charity is helping military heroes to find fresh careers in building trades.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:42 pm
A group of military veterans and service leavers in the construction workshop at West Notts College's centre at Station Park, Kirkby.

Veterans and service leavers from all over the East Midlands are learning specialist skills in trades such as brickwork, carpentry, plastering, plumbing and painting, thanks to Vision West Nottinghamshire College.

It’s all part of a link-up with Building Heroes, a charity that offers support for a seamless transition into employment for those who have served their country.

The veterans are receiving hands-on tuition for five weeks at the college’s construction centre at Station Park in Kirkby.

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Kiran Hullait, who was discharged from the Army last year, learning new skills on the Building Heroes course.

The centre is equipped with the best facilities in the sector, and employs expert tutors with vast experience and knowledge.

The course leads to qualifications in key areas of construction and safety.

One of the veterans at West Notts is Paul Bliss, 55, from Herefordshire, who said: “I was in the Army and semi-retired three years ago after completing contract work overseas.

"The Building Heroes project has been brilliant so far. I am looking towards bricklaying as the skill to concentrate on, and I have learned so much.

"In the future, I’d love to put my new skills into practice and maybe give something back to communities.”

To date, Building Heroes has graduated more than 1,500 veterans nationwide through its programme. It says the courses, such as those at West Notts, give them a massive uplift in confidence and motivation, and also play a key role in supporting physical and mental rehabilitation after military service that can often be traumatic.

Another West Notts ’student’ is Kiran Hullait, 23, from Leicester, who was medically discharged from the Army in March 2020.

She said: “Not long after I was discharged, Covid hit, so I was left wondering what I could do next.

"I took on this course because I wanted to get some experience of a job that was hands-on.

"I think I’ll be veering towards plastering, which I quite enjoy.

"My house needs renovating, so I might put the skills to test at home!”

Phil Clark, who is assistant principal of construction and building services at the college, said: “We have seen a very positive start to the course.

"To play a part in the re-training and resettlement of servicemen and women is something our curriculum is very proud of, particularly as we have ex-forces personnel on our staff team.

"With a dedicated workshop and staff in place, we fully expect the Building Heroes programme to go from strength to strength, and we look forward to welcoming future cohorts.”

Karen Jefford, chief operations officer for Building Heroes, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the skilled staff at West Notts to deliver this programme.

"The construction industry faces a skills shortage, and with the huge investment the government has recently made, there has never been a better time to enter the profession.

"Working closely with partners to provide work experience and job opportunities, we look forward to providing more construction pathways for those who have kept us safe.”