Construction course helps transform Maidenhead man's life | Wates

Site team at Braywick Leisure Centre hire previously unemployed Maidenhead trainee following free Wates Construction course.

A jobseeker in Maidenhead has turned his life around thanks to Wates Construction, the contractor building the new Braywick Leisure Centre, securing his first ever job following a free training scheme for the long-term unemployed.

Upon completion of Wates’ accredited Building Futures programme, in which candidates aged 19+ are provided with two weeks’ construction training, Breaze Roberts (26) was one of two participants invited to work with Wates full time.

Prior to taking part in the course, Breaze had yet to find a job, having spent his late teens and early twenties getting into trouble with the police. A lack of confidence had proved a barrier to meeting people and learning new skills but after meeting course organisers, Ixion at the local JobCentre, Breaze decided it was time for a fresh start. He commented:

“I was very apprehensive about starting the course and the first day was tough but my advice to anyone starting out on the Building Futures programme is to stick it out – it has definitely changed my life for the better.”

Breaze is now employed through workforce management and security specialist, Biosite Systems Ltd, on the Braywick Leisure Centre project as a gate supervisor. His main role is to manage vehicles coming in and out of the site, helping to ensure the site runs efficiently and safely.

Wates Construction’s Community Investment Advisor, Sally Kinchin, added:

“From the outset of the course, Breaze stood out and during the interviews, he really shone. Everyone was impressed by the amount of research he had done to prepare, as well as his enthusiasm. We were extremely keen to find a permanent position for him on site upon completion of the Building Futures training and were grateful that our partners, Biosite, also saw his potential and agreed to employ and train him.”

Having moved around a number of times as a young adult, Breaze is now settled back in Maidenhead where he went to school and thoroughly enjoying his new life:

“This job has changed everything for me. I love having structure to my day now, getting up early and having a purpose. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and have a much more positive outlook on life.”

“I’m also able to plan for the future now. I’m saving to learn to drive and hope to progress to become a crane operator in the future. I wouldn’t have known this job existed before I came here and this industry has a lot of different roles so you never know where you might end up. It’s exciting.”

Alec Jackman, Business Unit Director of Wates Construction Southern Home Counties, commented:

“I’m thrilled that our training course and our team at Braywick have been able to help this young man turn his life around. Breaze is just one of many success stories we have seen through the Building Futures programme. Obtaining the key skills this course provides can be a real stepping stone for many people and I hope his story inspires and encourages others.”

Building Futures is an award-winning two week pre-employability programme for anybody not in employment, education or training aged 19+. Candidates are offered taster trade sessions in the likes of multi skills and carpentry as well as employability support and interviews with employers.

At the end of the Building Futures programme, participants receive a BTEC Level 1 Certificate in Construction, which is accredited by the qualifications and credit framework (QCF), as well as the opportunity to sit their CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) test, without which they face a huge barrier to employment within the industry.

Over 1500 people have taken part in over 100 Building Futures programmes since its launch and Wates has supported over 67% into employment or further learning either with Wates, its supply chain or other employers and training providers.

Once complete, the new Braywick Leisure Centre will include a 10-lane swimming pool, larger training and splash pools, a 200-station gym, four squash courts, a larger sports hall, improved accessibility for disabled users and sports teams.

Cllr Rayner, lead member for culture, communities and Windsor said:

“It was vital to us that whoever took on the contract to build Braywick Leisure Centre also worked to create opportunities for local people. The Wates Building Futures scheme is a prime example of that and Breaze shows how these important schemes really can change lives.

“Breaze should be very proud of what he has achieved and I am thrilled that in partnership with Wates we have been able to transform his life. Congratulations Breaze.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive commented:

“Breaze’s story is precisely why Scape was set up. I’m absolutely thrilled that, through one of our projects, he has found his calling in life. From the outset, my vision with Scape was to create a framework that delivers construction with a social conscience. For me, a successful project is not just about delivering efficiently, on time and under budget. Once the ribbons have been cut and a building is bustling with activity, it’s not just a building. Success is also defined by the lasting legacy that a project can leave with the local community.

“By encouraging our partners to think creatively, deliver with a social conscience and community mindset, lives really can be changed. Nothing demonstrates that more than Breaze Roberts gaining full time employment with Wates through their Building Futures training programme.”

Works for the new centre are being carried out by Wates on behalf of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and were procured via Major Works – UK, part of Scape’s National Construction framework. The framework has been designed to deliver significant levels of local economic engagement as well as extensive community initiatives.

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