Youth Build UK 2010 News
A young African student who fled his homeland in Guinea to build a new life in Britain has scooped a top construction industry award.
Omar Cila, who has been named as 'Young Builder of the Year' in the 2010 Youthbuild UK Awards at the House of Commons, arrived in Britain aged just 16, and unable to speak English.
He came to the UK following a deeply traumatic event in which he and his parents were arrested and imprisoned after Omar's mother had taken part in an anti-government trade union rally.
Omar although alone, managed to make his way to the UK where he has been able to start a new life.
His courage and remarkable achievement has been saluted by his social worker, college lecturer, and employer.
Omar, now aged 20, has achieved Level 2 in Electrotechnical Technology, and NVQ Electrical Installation, and Frank Stevens, curriculum manager at the College of North West London, where he is studying for Level 3, commented: "Omar is well on the way to becoming a competent electrician and an asset to any employer."
Youthbuild UK Awards chair, John Montague said: "Youthbuild isn't just about qualifications gained, it also recognises young people who have overcome significant barriers to achieve what they have.
"In Omar's case the barriers have been enormous, but he has managed to rise above them."
Sirjana Malla, his social worker added: "He is an independent young person, living in his own tenancy, and making exceptional progress in his work and education considering he had no English when he arrived."
Mark Carroll, foreman with PML Electrical Contractors where Omar is receiving his training, said: "We recognised that despite his communication problems he had the right attributes to succeed as an electrician.
"We have seen Omar develop in confidence, with his communication skills improving constantly."
Old Ford Housing Association's innovative Construction Training Initiative (CTI) project has been awarded a Construction Excellence Award for Leadership and People Development in the London and South East finals for the second time.
The CTI offers accredited training and works with Key Stage 4 pupils from local schools, delivering a complete training package, which progresses right through to employment. The unique project includes internally provided training, on-site summer work experience as well as on-site placements as part of multi-year apprenticeships through to full time employment.
Recognised by Tower Hamlets Council as a local provider of employment training, the CTI's dedicated workshops are rooted in the heart of local communities. Developed and managed by a team of three, it trains up to 50 new recruits a year, providing a range of skills and giving them an entry-point to a career in the construction industry.
Trainees gain a City and Guilds Multi Skills in Construction qualification and undertake first aid and health and safety training, are entered for their CSCS health and safety cards and also take part in a tower scaffolding course, proving their competence in the industry.
Once completed, trainees are given help to gain on-site placements in the construction environment to gain their NVQ qualification. Old Ford Housing Association's workshop resources are then used for the remaining part of the year to offer women-only and open age courses in basic repairs as well as a Caretaker Skills Upgrade course, which is open to any Registered Providers (RP's) in the borough.
Christine Hevey, Assistant Director of Community Development at Old Ford Housing Association, said: "As a rapidly expanding social landlord, our organisation is committed to investing in communities, with the aim of Enhancing Life Chances. "For many years, we have contributed to the construction of an overall community-focused vision and to the development of award-winning projects with clear priority actions, one of these being CTI, our very own long-term solution to tackling unemployment locally.
"We are delighted that the Constructing Excellence Awards has recognised our long-term engagement in developing and improving our training offer, and the positive impact that this has had in our community."
Being a partner of leading affordable housing provider, Circle Anglia has allowed CTI to develop strong relationships with Tower Hamlets Council, Mears and the Apollo Group, Old Ford's repairs and Decent Homes contractors, to offer recruitment into the project as well as on-site trainee work placements.
Partners have signed up to long-term commitments that will help Old Ford to deliver CTI, and bring significant mutual benefits like a ready-made workforce, increased awareness of corporate responsibility and valuable impetus in tackling one of the area's biggest social problems.
For trainees and local communities this means wide-ranging practical experience, a better understanding of the construction industry and improved opportunities for referral to the project via multiple local touch points, whilst the project itself has gained a balanced range of trainees from all cultures.
To date 153 people have been trained, 125 have gained vocational qualifications and 98 have secured jobs, including 54 directly with Circle Anglia's construction partners.
Youthbuild UK are delighted that Skanska have agreed to become the construction contractor sponsor of the 2010 Young Builder of the Year Awards.
Skanska were sponsors of the 2009 and 2006 Awards.
A construction industry award scheme, that helps disadvantaged young people build brighter futures for themselves, has kicked off its 2010 programme.
More than 700 employers and training organisations throughout the UK have been contacted by Youthbuild UK, organisers of the Young Builder of the Year competition, inviting them to put forward the names of youngsters who have turned their lives around by learning a trade.
In the 11 years since it first launched, the Young Builder of the Year initiative has assisted hundreds of youngsters to overcome the personal and family setbacks that adversely affected their early lives.
John Montague, chairman of Youthbuild UK, said: "Most people are defined - to some extent at least - by the jobs they do, and consequently a trade gives a person a sense of self-worth.
"Youthbuild UK has helped provide many young people, often with backgrounds damaged through no fault of their own, with the foundations on which they can begin to rebuild their self esteem."
The awards are organised in two age groups - 14 to 16-year-olds in education, and 16 to 25 in employment or training - with finalists attending a ceremony at the House of Commons in October. Entries close on July 30.
This year's prize fund totals £5,000, with up to £1,500 - including tools - going to the overall winner in the older age group, and tools worth £500 going to the school or college attended by the 14-16 age group winner.
All applications must be supported by an employer, training organisation, college, or school.
Last year's winner was a young woman who had spent several years in care, overcoming her problems to achieve good GCSE results, and finally deciding as a career as a plumber. She now has an apprenticeship with British Gas.
The 2008 winner was a young man who had been bullied at school and had little support from his teachers. Realising he had no future in the village where he lived he decided to move to his grandmother's house in Stoke on Trent in order to get a place on a training course. His positive attitude eventually resulted in him gaining a plumbing apprenticeship.
Howard Platts, a trustee of Youthbuild UK said: "The awards are a celebration of young people's achievements in overcoming barriers on their journey through life."