The chairman of the National Association of Scaffolding and Access Contractors (NASAC), Keith Dwyer, has described the new scaffolding training programme in Mount Lucas, Co. Offaly as a “very positive development” for the industry.
The training will help meet the evolving needs of the sector. The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and its affiliate NASAC, in collaboration with Laois & Offaly Education Training Board (LOETB) and the National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas, launched the new scaffolding apprenticeship which had its first intake on September 13 last.
Mount Lucas has constructed a 650m2 purpose-built scaffolding unit, welcoming Larry Henry and Fergus Sheerin on board as new instructors. NASAC contractors, under the chairmanship of Derrick Enright, were keen to formalise training to match the evolution of industry needs. This includes providing specific knowledge, skills and competence, which the apprenticeship offers. Health & Safety also continues to be a major concern as the trade involves working at height and keeping other trades safe onsite.
NASAC approached LOETB to develop the apprenticeship and the proposal was submitted to Solas. A consortium steering group was formed with the apprenticeship going into development and validated by QQI in October 2020. The apprenticeship offers a Level 5 two-year programme with apprentices working on the job with their employer, coupled with training in Mount Lucas. Year one covers modules in basic scaffolding principles and developing industry skills such as erecting and dismantling scaffolding. In the second year, the apprentice will progress to management and control of scaffolding and complex structures, culminating in a capstone module which encompasses their overall learning.
To employ an apprentice, a scaffolding company must firstly contact their Solas Authorised Officer (AO) in their local Education and Training Board. The AO will schedule a site visit to assess employers and complete the Suitability to Train form. The employer must demonstrate the capacity and the ability to provide quality, relevant on-the-job training to apprentices as per the requirements of the national apprenticeship system.
Upon approval, the employer will be registered as a National Apprenticeship Employer. The employer must also provide a mentor who is responsible for overseeing the apprentice. The mentor is required to have a minimum of five years’ scaffolding experience, hold a valid CSCS card or equivalent, and must have undertaken the one-day workplace mentor programme.
The training allowance is paid by the employer both on and off the job with year one based on 50% of the current craft rate. Year two is based on 75% of the current craft rate. The apprentice must have three months’ site experience. The AO will arrange a visit to complete the Suitability to Train form.
Mentor qualifications, a copy of valid CSCS card, apprentice’s education transcripts, a copy of valid SafePass and a signed declaration of work experience must be provided.
Furthermore, scaffolding employers can avail of the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme which was announced in the 2020 July Jobs Stimulus package and extended to December 2021. Employers who register an apprentice will be eligible for a €3,000 grant, receiving €2,000 in the first year and €1,000 in the second year, should the apprentice still be in their employment.
“The creation of this training programme has been warmly welcomed and well received within the scaffolding industry,” enthuses NASAC chairman and consortium steering group member Keith Dwyer.
“It’s massive for the industry and something the NASAC had been trying to bring about for the past few years. One of its key aims is to instil a strong culture of safety and raise awareness of the dangers of working at height.”
Keith, who is co-director of Summit Scaffolding Ltd, adds: “We had nine apprentices at our first intake and another nine at our second intake. Our company had two apprentices on the first block, two on the second block and one on the third block. The uptake has been excellent and long may that continue to be the case.”
The new training programme comes after the NASAC rewrote a new Code of Practice for the scaffolding industry which sets out to implement new and improved scaffolding procedures. The NASAC is the specialist scaffolding section of the CIF which represents employers in the scaffolding industry.
Being a member of the NASAC means that clients and staff benefit from the quality assurance and professionalism which all members must demonstrate. This includes legitimate, direct employment, pension and training schemes. All branch staff are full members of the CIF itself.
Established in 2017 by Keith and his brother David, Summit Scaffolding Ltd has grown to employ 50 staff throughout the Leinster region. With offices in Dublin and Wexford, the company has built up an impressive client-base which includes some of the country’s leading main building contractors, including BAM, GEM Construction, John Paul Construction, JJ Rhatigan & Co, Kercon Construction, Elite Construction, ABM, Magna Construction, Clancy Construction, McGarrell Reilly Group and BHA Construction. The brothers believe in a working partnership with their clients and provide a top-class service, regardless of the project size.
More than anything, Summit Scaffolding Ltd prides itself on its staff who undergo continuous training to keep them at the forefront of delivering unrivalled scaffolding solutions.
Keith was elected chairman of the NASAC last year. The vice-chairman is Spencer Attle who is a senior contracts manager with McCrory Access. The chairman of the NASAC consortium steering group is Robert Downey.
Summit Scaffolding Ltd
38 Carmanhall Road,
Sandyford Industrial Estate,
Clonard Retail Park,
Telephone: +353 (0)87 784 7460
Email: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, April 2022, Vol 8 No 4