Training is crucial to improving the skills and knowledge of the roofing workforce. An industry-recognised qualification, for example, can enhance an individual’s career prospects by proving to a client or potential employer that they are qualified to carry out roofing to a recognised standard. Oliver Fergusson, Contracts Manager at Russell Roofing in Northampton describes how training fast-tracked his progression from apprentice roofer to running his own successful roofing business.

Need to know
I began an NVQ Level 2 course in Roof Tiling and Slating whilst working for a roofing company. I was 19, and I’d be sent to college for a week’s training at a time to learn about the aspects of my trade, then I’d put what I’d learnt into practice in my day job. Without that training, it would have meant relying on a roofer to teach me about roofing.

Whilst on-the-job learning is invaluable, I think it’s fair to say some colleagues might only tell what you they want you to know. This could be due to self-preservation and not wanting to give away too much knowledge should it weaken their own position, or you pick up their bad habits as it is a case of ‘I have always done it that way’. In my case there was no substitute for in-depth, independent training from a qualified instructor. I was lucky, my company were happy to enrol me on a course, which took two years to complete. Other firms, particularly smaller ones, lack the staff and resources to similarly develop employees. The certificate I received upon finishing the course, to me at least, was worth its weight in gold.

Rapid progression
Although in the late 1990s items such as CSCS cards weren’t required to access building sites and the like, the NVQ certificate helped progress my career at a much faster rate. Without qualified evidence of your skills, in the roofing trade it’s assumed you’re a general labourer. Thanks to that ‘piece of paper’ I achieved following two years’ training, I was able to diversify in my day job. It meant I could branch out into other disciplines of roofing and not be restricted to the types my limited pre-training knowledge allowed.

As well as improving your roofing skills, industry-recognised training courses instil candidates with confidence. For example, before completing my NVQ I didn’t feel it was my place to offer anything other than my labouring skills. Having qualified, however, I had the confidence and knowledge to offer on-the-job advice on a range of problem-solving issues.

Opportunity knocks
I would advise anyone considering embarking on a certified roofing-based training course to enrol without delay. There are numerous learning opportunities available to candidates of all abilities. These take place at specified centres, whilst specialist training providers such as National Construction Training Service (NCTS) also offers on-site assessments for a range of roofing disciplines: lead and hard metals; slating and tiling; liquid and bituminous waterproofing. Knowledge is power… and money. The more someone knows, the more they potentially earn; a truism that applies to roofing as much as any industry. Training certainly paid dividends for me, as after completing the NVQ Level 2 and gaining further work experience I went on to start my own business. In the 20 years since taking that step, my career in roofing has been more varied and fulfilling than I could ever have imagined. This is due, in part, to the benefits of training and education, affording me a world of opportunity.