Darsey blasts apprenticeship apathy…

NDTG chairman disappointed with industry engagement on Trailblazer scheme.

Newly-elected National Demolition Training Group chairman David Darsey has expressed his disappointment and frustration with the lack of commitment shown by his fellow UK demolition contractors as the pilot Trailblazer apprenticeship course is about to take place.

Government-back and Ofsted-regulated, the scheme was developed by a cohort comprising ten UK demolition contractors backed by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the National Demolition Training Group. Yet, in the midst of an ongoing and deepening skills shortage across the sector, only three of that original 10 – Keltbray, McGee and Darsey’s company Erith – have subsequently agreed to take part in the pilot scheme.

“The Trailblazer scheme is potentially the greatest contribution to demolition since the wearing of hard hats was made compulsory. Virtually every demolition contractor in the UK is finding it increasingly difficult to attract skilled staff,” he says. “We have here a scheme that will produce an ongoing stream of skilled demolition workers; a scheme that is grant-funded. It should be a no-brainer. And yet, of the 500+ demolition contractors currently active in the UK, only three have stepped up and put forward candidates to participate in this pilot scheme. I find that deeply disappointing.”

Darsey asserts that the scheme is backed by around £17,000 of grant funding and provides delegates with around 90 days’ on-the-job training over a two-year period. “Candidates that successfully complete the Trailblazer scheme will be fully-rounded demolition workers qualified as trained operatives. They will get the CPCS slinger/signaller card, they will be able to operate remotely-controlled demolition plant, be able to traffic marshal, and erect towers to PASMA standards,” he explains. “They will have the potential to go on to become managers and senior managers. But for this scheme to succeed, demolition contractors need to put forward potential candidates. Erith, Keltbray and McGee have continually demonstrated their commitment to delivering a scheme that will benefit the entire industry. We now need our fellow contractors to come on board.”