Network VEKA's pioneering education and training offering, the Network VEKA Academy has taken on its first apprentices after being launched by the industry's leading installer support organisation earlier in the year.
Enabling its member companies to ensure that current and prospective staff have the practical and academic skills to excel in the industry, Network VEKA established the Academy in partnership with The Vocational College – an award-winning learning provider with strong links to the Glass Qualifications Authority (GQA).
It offers a range of training programmes and apprenticeships, tailored to the needs of Network VEKA member companies and their staff. Managing Director, John Ogilvie explains: “Our organisation is all about maintaining the highest standards – in systems, materials, fabrication and installation, marketing support, training... you name it! With the Network VEKA Academy we've proactively looked to the future, helping to make sure that companies under our umbrella can continue to deliver the 97% plus satisfaction rates that separate us from an industry standard of just 83%.
“The Academy has benefits for everyone involved. Member companies – in light of the widely publicised construction industry skills shortage – need no longer worry about finding suitably qualified staff. Those looking to progress within their respective businesses can do so without disrupting their work, and, with generous subsidies – secured with the help of The Vocational College – costs have been minimised, making this an inclusive opportunity for all.
“Traineeships are proving a popular option, with companies like MG Windows in Northampton taking on apprentices in the 16-24 age bracket for brief, 5-6 month courses that offer an introduction to the industry. Besides footing travel expenses and the cost of Personal Protection Equipment, for member companies, it's essentially free!”
Adrian Lewis, Managing Director at Suffolk-based Frames Conservatories Direct commented: “The Network VEKA Academy can only be beneficial for companies like ours. The more motivated and engaged in their work our fitters are, the better job they are likely to do. They are ambassadors for the company, interacting with customers on a daily basis and directly influencing their perception of our brand, so, in a way, the Academy is indirectly enhancing our relationship with customers.
“One of our fitters, David Denness is going through the Academy at the moment and is really enjoying it. From his point of view he feels he has learned a lot more about the technical benefits of the products he fits – in terms of energy efficiency for example – and, in his words, he feels inspired by the course.
“On-site visits and a planned trip to the manufacturing site go a long way in making employees feel valued too. We're now in the process of recruiting two new apprentices and plan for them to be enrolled in the Academy as well.”
Workers with greater industry experience can access courses up to Advanced Apprenticeship level, with candidates earning a valuable Level 3 NVQ qualification upon completion.
John concludes: “It's great to see companies getting behind the Network VEKA Academy so soon. It's through such installer-centric offerings that Network VEKA has always thrived and it's clear that this initiative holds great benefits for the future. I'd wholeheartedly recommend that members check out what's on offer – who knows what development opportunities it could one day open for their business?!”