Why Did Willowstone Developments Hire an Apprentice?

Willowstone Developments hired Zac Walker as a National Construction Academy Apprentice in December 2016, being one of the first in the country to benefit from our expert recruitment service, screening process and outstanding training and assessment.

We caught up with Alison Eley, Director of Willowstone Developments to discuss her opinions on recruiting an Apprentice.

Employers have many reasons why they might hire an Apprentice, Willowstone’s reason was that ‘the business has seen a sharp growth in the past 12 months, which has inherently meant that we required a larger team to support the projects. We often get calls from youngsters looking to get work experience so thought that hiring an Apprentice would be the ideal way to support the business and the individuals we employ to grow from within our business.”

There is a worrying number of young people coming into the construction trade, which is worrying not only for the construction companies who need their next generation of workers to be developing now to take the lead in the future but this is also worrying for the economy as a whole, as there will come a point where there isn’t the workforce needed to keep up with the demand for housing and industrial developments, which Willowstone commented on;

“We don’t believe there is enough youngsters entering the workforce, particularly if the Industry is to meet the requirements for house building set out by the Government. Historically the construction industry had been a go-to trade for young people but now, in our experience, white-collar options appear to be more popular.”

We pride ourselves on the service we offer to employers. It makes the recruitment process straightforward and stress-free. This is again, something that Willowstone reiterated;

“The National Construction Academy approached us at the time we were making the decision to hire and they made it very easy for us to find and hire Zac. They were fundamental in guiding us through the process, both on and off site and made Zac’s induction to the business very easy. Hiring a National Construction Academy Apprentice has been a very cost-effective way of bringing a new starter into the business and developing them within our business. As well as the skills Zac learns on site with us, it is enhanced through the certified training, both knowledge and practical, that he is receiving through the academy. Zac’s commitment to learning is also reflected in his attitude and commitment to work. He is always keen to try new things and always gives 100%, which is the true reward for any business”

One key thing that businesses often say when talking about hiring Apprentice is that the young person not be competent for the job. Alison was keen to comment on this;

“Initially we weren’t sure if an Apprentice with little or no experience in the industry would fulfil our requirement and be able to work alone as well as under his mentor. However, Zac has certainly defeated these qualms. He has settled in quickly and become a reliable member of the team.

If your business would like to find out more about how an Apprentice could bridge the skills gap in your workforce, contact the National Construction Academy today.

Zac Walker – My Journey as a National Construction Academy Apprentice

Zac Walker, a National Construction Academy Trowel Trades Apprentice working at Willowstone Developments has given us some fantastic feedback about his journey so far as an Apprentice.

He started his Apprenticeship journey in December 2016, commenting that “It was really easy to apply to the National Construction Academy. The team made the application process simple, quick and smooth.” and that the initial meeting at Derby’s National Construction Academy was ‘really good, I got to meet all the staff and students too and everyone was really helpful.”

Once he had attended the initial meeting and was accepted into the National Construction Academies applicant pool, Zac was then matched with a local employer that would be able to teach him the skills he would need for a successful Trowel Trades career;

“The National Construction Academy secured my position with an employer in my local area, which was great as it eased me into the workplace and helped me settle in really quickly. My employer lets me have a shot at loads of new things, which has really helped build my confidence.”

Since securing his job with Willowstone, Zac has since spent a lot of time on-the-job, learning from those with years of experience in his profession, whilst also reaping the benefits of additional academy training, ensuring that he is not only compliant on-site, but is competent at the correct bricklaying techniques and has transferable skills in English and Maths too.

Zac is confident that his Trowel Trade Apprenticeship was a great decision for his career;

“I would highly recommend the National Construction Academy to anybody looking to start a career in Bricklaying as my experience with them has been great. I’ve learnt so much over a short period of time and feel like I’ve progressed a lot too.”

If Zac’s story as a Trowel Trades Apprentice has inspired you, find out more about the National Construction Academy and contact us today.

If your business would like to reap the rewards of hiring a competent, enthusiastic young workforce, find out more about how the National Construction Academy can help.

Building Dreams Through Competitions – A Press Release By Rock Fall

The National Construction Academy in Derby is now firmly in place. They have been training the next generation of skilled bricklayers and working closely with some of Derby’s leading construction companies.

An accessible and collaborative approach is enabling the organisation to inspire increasing numbers of Derby youngsters into a new career and creating great prospects for them.

A great way that they engage the learners is to run competitions whilst they are completing the work they need to do for their qualification. The National Construction Academy have partnered with Rock Fall, the Safety Footwear manufacturer who are based in Alfreton.

Rock Fall are a proud partner of the National Construction Academy, providing equipment and advice to ensures the apprentices are safe on site.

Rock Fall Competition Winner Zachary Walker

The most recent winner of the competition was Zachary Walker, who managed to get a massive 7000 impressions on his social media posts during the short time the competition took place.

Paul Wilson, Marketing Manager at Rock Fall said:

“We are proud to be associated with the National Construction Academy. Rock Fall are a second generation family business, with traditional family values. Sponsoring this award enables us to do our bit to support the next generation of skilled construction workers. We can see this marking the start of a long and prosperous partnership with the NCA.”

Unite the Union Attacks Dead End Construction Courses

An investigation by Unite the Union has discovered that the number of classroom-based construction courses increased by 14% last year to 192,500, totally dwarfing the number of Apprentices beginning their training, 21,460.

Following this report, Unite has described these courses as ‘dead end’ because the courses only offer a technical qualification, meaning that the candidates do not have access to on-site training and therefore are unable to achieve an NVQ, which is the only qualification recognised in construction to acquire a CSCS card.

Gail Cartmail, General Secretary of Unite the Union, said:

“For whatever reason, we find ourselves in the terrible situation of increasingly offering young people a classroom construction course but also in effect denying them the chance to acquire the qualifications needed to enter the industry in a skilled role.

What is urgently needed is a refocusing of resources to ensure that money is more effectively invested in boosting the number of genuine Apprenticeships, so that a far higher number of young people can acquire the skills and qualifications to enter the industry.”

The National Construction Academy offer a solution to this issue, by offering blended learning to all of our candidates. We ensure that our Apprentices develop both the technical and theoretical skills they need for a lifelong, successful career in the Construction Industry.

Thomas Marples, Head Of the National Construction Academy added:

“The comments from Unite highlight the exact reason NCA was founded, the training industry must change to support the construction industry in the right way. This is why we only deliver programs that offer people real opportunities to develop and grow in a career in construction by gaining real life experience onsite. Our Apprenticeships and Traineeships have the achievement of the CSCS card and the NVQ it requires at the heart of the course because we appreciate how critical it is for the future of that young person”

We offer opportunities to young people on a daily basis to start their career in Construction and for employers to recruit a talented workforce, with enthusiasm to learn and the initial skills required to be an asset on site.

Federation of Master Builders Research Highlights Support For Apprentice Employers


Research completed on behalf of the Federation of Master Builders, from a survey of homeowners, has highlighted a strong public interest in favour of employers who support Apprentices in their careers. Some of the key facts that have been released from the report include:

  • Almost two-thirds of homeowners would have a more favourable image of a building firm knowing they train Apprentices
  • Half of UK homeowners would be more likely to actually hire a building firm knowing they train Apprentices (all else being equal)
  • More than two in five would be more likely to recommend a building firm to a friend or family member based on the fact they train Apprentices
  • Almost two-thirds of homeowners think that building firms should highlight the fact that they are training the next generation of tradespeople in their marketing material

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said:

“This new research confirms what many of us already knew – Apprentices are good for your business. The building industry is extremely competitive and these results suggest that training an apprentice will help a firm stand out from the crowd. Homeowners aren’t just concerned about the craftsmanship of their builder, they want to know they are hiring a firm with strong values. Therefore, it makes sense that a business that invests in young people is seen in a better light. If the burgeoning skills crisis in the construction industry wasn’t enough to motivate those firms not already training to start doing so, hopefully, this evidence will do the trick. It’s helpful to know that Apprenticeship training can not only provide rewarding career opportunities for young people, but it can also help a firm’s bottom line.”

Paul Burrows, Recruitment Executive for NCA added

“This report highlights what we are already seeing with the employers we work with, not only is it rewarding to know you are contributing and supporting to help a young person make a start on their career in construction but also there are some clear benefits for the business employing the Apprentice in their appearance and perception with customers as well as the increase in capacity the business has with extra people to deliver the business”

National Apprenticeship Week 2017

This week, the National Construction Academy have been celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2017, to support and encourage young people and employers to perceive Construction Apprenticeships as a viable career path. The event which happens annually focuses around the UK Governments plans to support young people with fantastic work and training opportunities through the means of Apprenticeships.

During National Apprenticeship Week 2017, the National Construction Academy have been actively engaged with numerous schools, providers and events in around the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire region, while continuing to provide life-changing opportunities within the Construction Sector for the many Trainees and Apprentices who have already made the conscious career decision towards undertaking Apprenticeships through the National Construction Academy

The week was kicked off with a fantastic Apprenticeship Insight Evening, hosted at Pride Park Stadium, the home of Derby County Football Club. Young people were invited to join both the National Construction Academy and 3aaa Apprenticeships to learn what Apprenticeships can offer them in their careers. At this event, attendees took part in our ‘mini bricklaying’ challenges, alongside Derby County players George Thorne and Craig Forsyth.


This was closely followed up by the team of Trainees at the National Construction Academy in Derby constructing a brick wall, with #NAW2017 built into its facade! Building with such intricacy takes time, dedication and skill – all of which, National Construction Academy Apprentices bring plenty of to their workplaces.


Employers are also encouraged, during National Apprenticeship Week, to showcase Apprenticeships as a solution to grow a workforce and to harness talent and ideas from a new generation of keen, future employees and future managers.

Michaela Watters, Apprentice Intake Executive at The National Construction Academy added:

‘It is extremely positive to see that, during National Apprenticeship Week, so many young people, parents, employers and schools truly embrace opportunities that Apprenticeships provide. We have been operating from our Downing Road based academy for just under a year now and are extremely honored to be celebrating our very first National Apprenticeship Week.

Skills Gulf could see Construction wages double

Research led by consultant Arcadis has highlighted a significant skills gap in the construction industry, which requires over 400,000 new people each year between now and 2021 to resolve. This equates to one worker joining the industry every 77 seconds to cope with predicted workloads.

The Arcadis Talent Scale predicts the rise of the ‘minted’ workforce. This means that the most in need trades, such as carpenters and joiners, where the demand accounts for nearly one sixth of all national resource requirements, could be earning double. Plumbers, electricians and bricklayers are also seen to be one of the highest in-demand trades, particularly in the housebuilding sector. The report also suggests a need for over 7,400 Civil Engineers, 7,300 Quantity Surveyors and 26,400 Construction Directors.  It must also be noted that this is likely to be further impacted by any eventual Brexit deal, which will further affect this shortage.

James Brice, Arcadis Director of Workforce Planning, said ‘Systemic underinvestment in the nation’s workforce has contributed to a reduction in UK productivity’ he added ‘Construction employment is already down 15% on 2008.’ He also suggests that overcoming this challenge will not be able to be achieved through just education and technology alone. Brice believes that although bringing new talent into the industry will help the skills shortage, the sector will also need to look carefully at those people in other industries to improve its efficiency and that the rights of EU workers that currently operate in Britain’s construction should be secured when a Brexit deal is decided.

Thomas Marples Head of NCA added ‘It is an interesting time for our Apprentices going into the construction industry, where the opportunity to build more successful careers than previously seen in generations before is a real possibility. With rising costs for student loans and universities, parents and young people may now have to consider construction as a serious contender in their career.’


If you are an employer looking to understand how an Apprentice could be beneficial to your business, email: employ@ncaapp.co.uk.

If you are a young person looking for a career in Bricklaying, email: apply@ncaapp.co.uk or DM us on Twitter.

18 Trainee Starts At The National Construction Academy In Just 2 Months

Already in the first two months of 2017, 18 aspiring bricklayers have joined the National Construction Academy to start their journey in becoming successful in the construction industry. These candidates have all been through a thorough interview process in order to earn their place amongst the group and are now progressing through a traineeship in Bricklaying in order to impress their employer and earn a place on a Level 2 Trowel Occupations Apprenticeship.

The trainees will all undertake a 12 week programme, which includes 6 weeks work experience with their potential employer for a Level 2 Apprenticeship.

Nearly half of the 18 new candidates this year have already been successful in overcoming one of the first hurdles in the course, which is to pass the CITB Hazard and Environment Test, to be eligible for their first CSCS card. Equipped with their CSCS card, valuable knowledge and training, these trainees have begun their work experience in real worksites across Derbyshire, playing a valuable role in supporting their employer.

Other trainees are actively studying as part of their programme, to develop their skills, become site-ready and able to achieve their CSCS card.

The candidates from across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have all demonstrated a keen desire to be the solution to the UK construction sector skills gap and develop successful careers.

Thomas Marples, Head Of National Construction Academy said ‘It is really exciting to see such a fantastic group of individuals looking to further their careers in the construction industry. With the demands for new housing and the skills gap forming the opportunities, it is a really exciting time for young people to build a prosperous career in the construction sector.’

National Construction Academy establishes partnership with Rockfall to support Apprentices

The National Construction Academy are pleased to announce a revolutionary new partnership with Rockfall to support and motivate young potential tradespeople with their emerging careers. The partnership is a fantastic leap into reducing the cost for young people who are aspiring to work in construction, making their ambition a reality.

The partnership will offer the National Construction Academy Apprentices access to exclusive rates for high quality safety footwear as well as the opportunity to participate in a regular competitions which have fantastic prizes available to the winners.

The competition held at the end of each Apprenticeship unit for the best wall is judged on a range of criteria including accuracy, aesthetics and quality.

Paul Burrows, Recruitment Executive at The National Construction Academy said ‘At the National Construction Academy we love to encourage healthy competition between our Apprentices so that they strive to improve week on week. By launching this competition, it supports this idea and gives our Apprentices the opportunity to showcase their fantastic work.’

Rockfall Safety boots are the toughest and most comfortable Safety Footwear Range. Ever. The Rockfall range of Safety Footwear is the best quality collection of styles available. Unrivalled durability and comfort. Paul Wilson, Marketing Manager at Rockfall added, “We are proud to be associated with the National Construction Academy. Rockfall are a second generation family business, with traditional family values. Sponsoring this award enables us to do our bit to support the next generation of skilled construction workers. We can see this marking the start of a long and prosperous partnership with the National Construction Academy.”

We will be taking pictures of the walls and posting them onto our social media pages for people to like and share the walls. The wall with most likes and shares will win a prize.

For more information please visit their website www.rockfall.co.uk and get voting on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NCAApp/?fref=ts.

National Construction Academy Apprentice Nathan goes from strength to strength

Nathan started NCA and we knew from day one that we had a great candidate and ambassador for the National Construction Academy. When starting with DP Brown, Nathan kept his head down and worked really hard with his traineeship. DP Brown have commented that they were that impressed with his work that they wanted to progress him from his Traineeship to Apprenticeship early. Nathan has a really positive attitude towards developing himself as a person and gaining new skills which he then apply to his employment.


Paul Burrows, Recruitment Executive for the National Construction Academy comments: “Nathan has only just started his Apprenticeship and he is already working at a really high standard. We expect to see the quality of his work grow week by week. Well done Nathan.”


Nathan’s duties include brick and block work, pointing up and general labour work for his employer which then enables the other members of the team to get on with other jobs. When asking Nathan about his time with the National Construction Academy, Nathan has commented: “My employer have been really good at helping me and learning the right way to do things. I really like the fact that they don’t hold me back and let me get on with things. Starting on a Traineeship was a great route for me as I had some understanding of what was going on when I went on site instead of having no idea at all. I would definitely recommend the National Construction Academy to my friends because they like to get things done quickly.”


Charlotte Brown from Nathan’s employer, DP Brown, comments: “After being a little apprehensive about taking on an Apprentice, the National Construction Academy helped us with every aspect of the journey from day one. We are more than happy with our Apprentice Nathan. After only two weeks he is laying 60-70 bricks per day on site with us. He is a very keen and enthusiastic young person with a great attitude and good timekeeping skills. The National Construction Academy have always been there along the way to answer any questions and I would honestly recommend them to anyone interested.”


We would like to congratulate Nathan for all of his hard work since starting his journey with the National Construction Academy as it really does show that hard work does go unmissed.

If you are an employer looking to understand how an Apprentice could be beneficial to your business, email: employ@ncaapp.co.uk.

If you are a young person looking for a career in Bricklaying, email: apply@ncaapp.co.uk or DM us on Twitter.