New skills academy in South Gloucestershire

Published:  11 July, 2014

Plumbing and trades tutor Shane McCallum, has set up the South West Construction Academy with his wife Nikki to cater for the growing need for trained construction workers.

Based in a 1,600 sq ft converted barn in Eastwood Park in Falfield, the academy will begin by offering a range of plumbing courses, providing a mixture of distance learning and on-site learning and intensive training.

Mr McCallum’s business plan is aimed at attracting 36 adult students in the first year, and then to extend to school leavers in year two. Eventually the academy will take on other trades such as plastering, electrical and carpentry.

Mr McCallum said: "I’m trying to actually do something about the situations that I don’t agree with in the training set-up for this industry.

"My concern is that class sizes are too big, adult learners are suffering by being included with school leavers and that the focus is on quantity rather than quality. Trainees deserve as much one-to-one tuition as possible.

"I’d also like to deal with local businesses on apprenticeships. I don’t feel local businesses have enough influence in how trainees are taught. So I’d like to be able to teach students the industry standards but also ask businesses if there’s anything else they’d like bolted on so that the graduates come away with exactly the skills that they need."

Mr McCallum started his professional life as a landscape gardener. He was a student in the first year of plumbing trainees at Filton College in 2005 and has since worked as a tutor at the college for several years.

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