Suffolk house builder is tackling the skills shortage

Hopkins Homes, new trainee assistant site manager scheme, new trainees Evans Osifo-Doe and Melvyn Gi

Hopkins Homes, new trainee assistant site manager scheme, new trainees Evans Osifo-Doe and Melvyn Gilmour with Shane Vinyard, head of quality assurance at Hopkins Homes, who is running the new assistant site manager programme. Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant

The first two starters have been selected for regional house builder Hopkins Homes’ innovative assistant site manager training scheme.

The new training scheme is one way the Suffolk-based house builder has identified of tackling the growing skills shortage in construction.

It will give individuals the chance of gaining hands-on on experience on 35 site across the region, alongside industry professionals, while gaining recognised professional qualifications.

The successful candidates will get the chance to manage multi-million pound sites and work through a series of formal qualifications, including NVQ level 6, while being paid.

Trainees will have access to NHBC toolbox courses and other essential site operations training during the 30-month programme.

Michael Cox, managing director of Hopkins Homes, said it was an alternative route into the industry to university study.

He said: "By offering a competitive salary in additional to qualifications and continuous support we hope the programme will be able to offer a viable alternative to university for young people but also attract applicants looking for a change of career or who are returning to work after a break."

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The first 18 months will see trainees learn a range of useful skills including safety training.

The programme is being run for Hopkins by Shane Vinyard, its head of quality assurance.

These first two trainees are both ex-military personnel.

Melvyn Gilmour,30, and Evans Osifo-Doe,35, joined the scheme at Hopkins head office at Melton, and will get to work on sites across the region during their training.

Shane Vinyard said: "We wanted to find some new people that we could train ourselves."

They had 194 expressions of interest before selecting two men for the pilot scheme.

"We are flexible and hope to develop it in the years ahead to find the management of the future."

Mr Vinyard, who had a military career before joining Hopkins Homes four years ago, added; "Ex service leavers come with a strong work ethic and are used to and trained to work as a team.

"It is about developing our own staff."

Evans Osifo-Doe is originally from Ghana and joined the British Army engineers, REME in 2009 and trained as a mechanic, leaving the army with a medical discharge in 2014 following an accident. He already has an HND in mechanical engineering.

The father of three daughters said: "This is a great opportunity, I am really pleased to be on this programme.

"I like being out and doing DIY and that sort of thing, making things."

Former Royal Marine Commando Mr Gilmour added: "I did a gas engineers course but wanted something more about working with others. When I heard about the Hopkins Homes course I jumped at it. I am really grateful.

"What Hopkines Homes is doing is incredible, hopefully other employers will follow their lead."