Building Heroes, the charity that supports veterans and service leavers in to the construction industry, recently celebrated its 500th graduate after just three years working in partnership with colleges…

Speaking at an event to mark this milestone, CEO Brendan Williams said: “When we started this, I definitely never thought I would stand in front of a room of guests and say, somewhere in our cohort, is our 500th graduate. But to give you a sense of the journey we’re on, this time next year we hope to be celebrating our 1000th graduate.”

Working in partnership with local colleges, Building Heroes is able to provide high quality training for those looking to transition in to the construction industry. Those who attend the 5-week intensive course will leave with a Level 1 certificate in Construction Skills, a Level 1 Health and Safety Certificate and a CSCS card, which enables them to go straight in to employment on a construction site.

One of the key elements of the Building Heroes offer is that the organisation will support learners throughout the course and look to help them progress upon completion. A recent graduate, Neil, from the West Sussex cohort, explained how the course has helped him:

“I’d been out of work and in a rut for a couple of years. My caseworker from SAAFA mentioned the course to me but I was reluctant. Being out of work, your self-esteem can be low, but in the end I came with a positive attitude and really enjoyed it. I felt nervous coming on the first day but now I’m a lot more positive, and I’m starting a job next week!”

Another recent graduate, Darren, from the charity’s Trowbridge Centre, is setting out on a new challenge providing his own domestic maintenance service: “The new skills I’ve learnt, the great course instructors and the time with other veterans has been priceless. The course has given me a massive uplift in confidence and motivation and I’m now going it alone as AFV Handyman Services.”

Working in close partnership with colleges, job centres, army representatives, construction companies and other military charities is fundamental to the success of the organisation. Building Heroes is currently forging links with a range of companies and their subcontractors to offer full time work and work experience for learners that have taken part in the Building Heroes programme.

Sean McCullough, who undertook his Building Heroes training at Colchester Institute recently, has been offered work experience in Plymouth with Volker Fitzpatrick. It is hoped that this will result in Sean being offered full time employment when he has completed his Health & Safety qualifications.

Building Heroes recently employed Learning Operations Manager Karen Jefford to manage operations, helping the organisation to develop new links with training partners and increase outreach. She said: “If you’re an employer and interested in recruiting one of our learners or your organisation is interested in sponsorship, we’d love to hear from you. We’re always looking to grow our partner base.”

To keep partners up to date on its current plans, Building Heroes is holding its first Open Day on the 14th May at its Brinsbury Campus in West Sussex. Visitors will have the chance to network with other like-minded organisations and tour the construction training facilities to see the learners in action.