Former nursery nurse achieves a construction first

Jul 6, 2015

Rachel Howarth 1A former nursery nurse who swapped the playroom for the building site has become the first person in the UK to achieve a ground breaking new construction qualification.

Rachel Howarth (25) is an employee of Oldham building and refurbishment company Emanuel Whittaker and has made history after achieving an NVQ Level 3 in External Wall Insulation at Salford City College’s City Skills Sixth Form Centre.

Lee Bradbury, Health, Safety & Environment Manager for Emanuel Whittaker, said:  “It’s no surprise that Rachel has become the first to qualify.  In her career with us to date, she has been keen to develop and learn new skills and is a great asset to the company.”

Rachel, from Salford, originally trained in childcare, but decided on a career change after being made redundant from her job as a nursery nurse.  She said: “I only went into childcare because I didn’t know what to do when I left school.

“My granddad was a plasterer and I was always into DIY growing up and so after I was made redundant I was happy to join Emmanuel Whittaker as an apprentice plasterer. There is lots of laughing and banter with the lads – I love it.”

After completing her plastering apprenticeship, Rachel was keen to take advantage of the new qualification which was developed by North West regeneration consortium, Procure Plus, who worked with various partners to develop the criteria for the qualification before receiving approval from Ofqual.

Mark Wilson, Regeneration Manager at Procure Plus, said: “Developed in partnership with Salix Homes, this qualification will go a long way to ensure that Rachel and many others have the desired skills to support our industry’s mission in providing robust insulation that significantly reduces carbon emissions.”

Rachel has been honing her skills at Salix Homes’ multi-million pound improvement projects on tower blocks across Salford, including Floral Court in Broughton and Riverbank and Newbank Towers in Greengate.

Mark Foster, head of investment at Salix Homes, added: “Salix Homes was keen to launch this new qualification and generate a workforce of home-grown talent who could deliver this specialist skill and we’re very proud that Rachel is the first to qualify. She is a fantastic role model and a real ambassador for women in the construction industry.”

The UK has approximately 26 million homes and it is estimated that around half of these are not insulated properly with heat escaping through walls, ceiling and windows.  As energy prices continue to increase, wall insulation has never been so important.  The Level 3 NVQ in External Wall Insulation addresses a skills gap within the construction industry, as, prior to its creation, there was no available progression route for Apprentices completing the Level 2 qualification.

Salford City College’s City Skills Sixth Form Centre works closely with partners in the construction industry to deliver bespoke, industry-standard workshops which allow students to develop their skills in a professional environment.  Andrew Hallsworth, Work Based Learning Delivery Leader at Salford City College, said:  “We are pleased to have played a part in Rachel’s success and the delivery of this qualification, which has created new avenues of progression for Apprentices within the construction industry.”

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