Cambridgeshire’s first “real-life” Bricklaying apprenticeship training hub opens to combat the skills gap and housing shortage

22 May 2023

a photo of the nhbc team opening the cambridge training hub

NHBC, the UK’s leading new home warranty and insurance provider, has unveiled its latest training hub adjacent to the Histon Football Club in Cambridge, to produce the next generation of skilled housebuilders in the East of England.

The NHBC training hub was officially opened on Friday 19 May 2023 and has been built in partnership with award-winning housebuilder The Hill Group. Training more than 100 apprentices per year, with an initial focus on Bricklaying, the purpose-built facility equipped with classrooms, welfare and catering facilities will provide apprentices with a realistic working environment.

This hub is the third dedicated training facility built by NHBC – the first was launched in Tamworth in 2021 and the second in Newcastle last year – and forms part of its ongoing commitment to support the next generation of housebuilders, equipping them with the skills to build high quality new homes. Already proving popular with school leavers, career changers, and women wanting to work in construction, the scheme will train apprentices all year round with numerous cohort intakes throughout the year.

Jennifer Kehoe, 41, a former Police Constable, has swapped a career in the Police to take up a Level 2 Bricklaying NVQ apprenticeship at NHBC’s training hub.

At today’s opening, Jennifer said:

"I’ve always wanted to be in a trade, but I didn’t know I could do an apprenticeship at my age and to get paid as well was huge for me. There’s a perception that apprenticeships are only for school leavers. I thought if I’m going to do an apprenticeship, I want to do the most challenging trade and at the same time be a pioneer to break the stereotype of women being brickies and working in construction. It’s pretty rare as I’m the only female I’ve met so far on site! But I don’t mind though, it’s about breaking down the barriers and plugging the massive skills gap we face as a country. I challenge the men on site with the fact that I’m a woman and with my background of being in the police too, which they’re adapting to. When it comes to getting the work done, I’m not treated any differently. 

“The NHBC training hub and its Bricklaying apprenticeship has worked really well for me. The training hub is set up as a true to life building site and it offers accelerated learning which financially means I could make the career change with the support of my employer. The first five weeks at the NHBC training hub pretty much got me ready to go onto a building site. Brickwork is not as physical as people think and I love the feeling I’m contributing towards someone’s new home. You can make good money and there’s lots of opportunities. The fact that we need new homes built is not going to go away - there’s a huge demand and apprentices are vital in closing the national skills gap.”

Speaking at the opening, NHBC CEO, Steve Wood said: “In light of the growing skills gap in house building, I am proud that NHBC is working to ensure those entering the workforce from all backgrounds are equipped with the right training and knowledge.

“NHBC’s training hub in Cambridge will provide a realistic work environment and deliver accelerated Bricklaying apprenticeships. Open to all housebuilders and their supply chain, this further increases the real contribution we’re making to tackling the skills shortage and equipping apprentices with the skills to build high-quality new homes.”

Andy Hill, Group Chief Executive at The Hill Group said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the official opening of the Cambridge training hub which will serve to create a local supply of talent for the construction industry. I’d like to thank NHBC for choosing Hill as their partner on this exciting venture which will undoubtedly make a positive impact on the lives of the apprentices. We look forward to working with many of these talented individuals as they begin their rewarding careers in this fast paced and ever-evolving industry.”

Since NHBC became a registered apprenticeship provider in 2020, 347 apprentices have progressed through its Bricklaying and construction site supervisor programmes. The courses have been designed with input from across the industry to ensure they meet the needs of employers and employees alike.

Courses available at this hub

Find out more about the Bricklaying apprenticeship course we offer at our training hubs.

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