Building on qualifications

Munn, best practice director at Thomas Vale Construction, explains how On Site
Assessment Training (OSAT) is helping to raise standards within the industry

Forum Training Limited
6 Worcester Road, Stourport-on-Severn
Worcestershire DY13 9AR
Phone: 01299 878363

Thomas Vale Construction, an award-winning building contractor, is involved
in more than 50 major projects in the Midlands region, spanning the public and
private sectors, new build and refurbishment, specialist piling and rail

The challenge

Employing more than 300 staff directly and up to 700 supply chain partners
at any one time, Thomas Vale is one of a number of construction companies
aiming to raise standards within the industry. It recognises the need for
developing a competent and qualified workforce, ensuring that all of its
employees will be CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) qualified.

This is important, as 80 per cent of Thomas Vale’s workload is procured
through partnering. Its workforce, whether employed or contracted by Thomas
Vale, will be required to deliver the project on time, within budget and to the
highest quality, confirming the company’s client focus and meeting the highest
standards in the industry.

Course of action

Thomas Vale set about the task of finding a course that would provide CSCS
qualifications and in turn continually strengthen client confidence in its
organisation, setting it apart from competitors and boosting morale among the

After a lengthy selection process, Forum Training was chosen – a specialist
training provider in the construction sector – thanks to its overall package,
reputation to deliver, links with the Learning & Skills Councils (LSCs) and
its partnerships with local colleges. In addition, Thomas Vale felt Forum
Training set itself apart from the competition through its performance as part
of the national On Site Assessment Training (OSAT) pilot programme, achieving
regional targets set by the LSC.

Skills audit

After an initial induction session, Forum Training carried out a skills
audit on the Thomas Vale workforce to find out the level of training required
for each individual. It recommended that all members of staff be included in
the training process to some degree, including management and supply chain

All employees and visitors required to go on-site must possess a CSCS card,
so Forum advised each person on how one could be obtained. Some qualified
through existing skills and experience, while others needed training in areas
such as health and safety.

From this audit, Forum embarked on tailoring a course for each individual,
establishing which level of entry was required. After an initial assessment at
Forum’s head office, based in Stourport-on-Severn, course participants were
sent off to gather work- based evidence and undergo on-site training.

Whatever their trade, whether they were bricklayers, carpenters or
electricians, each person was required to take photographic evidence of aspects
of their work over eight weeks to verify their competency and level of skill.
Forum then sent an assessor to evaluate the work by practically monitoring and
recognising skills first hand.

This took place over several months, with Forum offering help and advice on
how to improve key skills and raise overall standards in the workplace.

A confident workforce

Bill Munn, best practice director of Thomas Vale comments:
"The results have been extremely encouraging since we began this
partnership with Forum Training. OSAT is the industry-approved route for
experienced workers, providing a flexible approach that allows individuals to
achieve recognised qualifications in a wide variety of trades that they can use
in the UK and overseas. We at Thomas Vale feel that the OSAT scheme is helping
to create a workforce who are confident in their skills and up to date with
health and safety issues in the construction sector.

"Forum Training continues to deliver the OSAT training in
a professional and effective manner. We have extended our relationship and
Forum Training now provides Thomas Vale and its supply chain with ongoing
management and business development training."

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