Leading the Way For Tomorrow’s Roofers
Since launching DMR Roofing Academy in late 2018, we’ve received a lot of support from the UK roofing industry. One of our biggest allies is Derbyshire-based lead manufacturer, Midland Lead. We caught up with their Business Development Manager for Export, Dave Woolley, to find out more about Midland Lead’s involvement in drawing talent to the industry and creating tomorrow’s roofing stars.
Please tell us a bit about Midland Lead and what the company does.
Midland Lead is a family-owned company established over 35 years ago and is the only independent UK-based lead manufacturer that provides BBA and NHBC approved machine cast lead sheet.
With a strong manufacturing heritage, our highly skilled workforce creates a diverse range of quality-approved lead products that are used in roofing, radiation protection and heritage projects all over the world using 100% recycled lead.
We employ fifty people who together combine traditional craftsmanship with an innovative technology-led approach producing over 15,000 tonnes of lead per year. Midland Lead is ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 and BBA certified.
We believe that our people make us who we are, and we invest in our staff through training support and development, and we are proud that we have built a reputation in the industry for our excellent customer service.
How long have you been supporting roofing apprentices and training, and what kinds of support do you provide?
Our passion for developing new talent resulted in the introduction of a training initiative that we launched almost two years ago to share knowledge and practical support. We provide machine cast lead, tools and ancillary products so that students can really get hands-on with the product, which is much more valuable than learning from theory. We also send our team of experts to visit training colleges sharing presentations about health and safety compliance to demonstrate best practice on how to handle, store and work with lead.
Along with practical advice and supplying raw materials, we also organise a number of events and open the doors to our specialist manufacturing facilities so that students can see how the lead manufacturing process works.
We are committed to encouraging future skills in construction through apprenticeships and training. Midland Lead is proud to now work in partnership with eighteen training colleges throughout the UK to help support future skills and promote opportunities within the construction and roofing industry.
Nothing is wasted; once colleges have finished with the lead that we have provided, they return it and it is recycled. We believe this collaboration is helping to build a strong future for the construction and roofing sector.
What are your main reasons for supporting roofing apprenticeships?
We support roofing apprenticeships because we believe it is important to continue to develop learning, skills and promote the career opportunities that roofing offers. We also want to share our passion for lead as the most recycled, sustainable and practical roofing materials available.
Midland Lead is committed to increasing this support further and we will continue to provide materials and work closely with training colleges into the future. During the past two-years, our networks have grown, and we expect to increase the number of colleges we support over the next twelve months.
As well as DMR Roofing Academy, are you involved with any other roofing training centres?
Yes. We are proud that DMR is one of eighteen training colleges throughout the UK from Dundee to Devon and we work closely with both CITB & NFRC.
We are also members of the D2N2 Roofing Occupational Working Group which has been set up with the specific aim of promoting the roofing trade apprenticeships in schools, colleges and independent training centres throughout the East Midlands.
Why should young people consider roofing as a trade after leaving school?
Choosing a career in roofing is incredibly rewarding and provides a lifelong skill. The construction industry is expected to continue to grow and offers a sustainable future with many job prospects in the UK and overseas.
There are many great apprenticeships and training courses available that offer on the job training along with a good salary. Roofing qualifications can also be a gateway to a wide variety of construction related jobs such as an estimator, project manager or the chance to run a business.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the roofing industry when it comes to recruiting new talent?
The roofing industry has a bit of an image problem and is not seen as exciting or diverse. This is the biggest challenge that the roofing industry faces, manufacturers such as Midland Lead and pro-active training colleges such as DMR are helping to address these challenges together. Collectively we can promote roofing as a rewarding career choice for people at any stage in their career, whatever their background.
Diversity in the roofing sector is also something that is a challenge for attracting and retaining new talent. Together with training colleges, the industry is turning its attention to help appeal to a more diverse workforce, this includes more women, minorities and people at any stage in their career. A recent CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) report concludes only 27% of the current construction workforce are under 30 years of age and the average workforce age is over 50 and increasing.
The message to employers and attracting new talent is about avoiding stereotypes and ideals around job roles, finding the right person can often mean that there is a level of flexibility required from the employer.
Are there any changes or improvements you’d like to see in the way roofing apprenticeships are delivered?
Currently the roofing sector is dominated by small independent roofers, with 68% of roofers registered as self-employed operating in the domestic market sector. Typically, smaller companies don’t always see the benefit of investing the time or money for training their employees. The annual spend on roof training is significantly less than that of other construction trades with just £743 being spent on roofing (per person trained) compared to £4,090 spent on other construction trades
There aren’t that many people who then continue training beyond NVQ Level 2, and this is something that we would like to see improving over time. Much of this work will be for the training institutions and employers to listen to employees and also highlight the benefits of ongoing skills development.
These in my opinion are areas that need to be addressed. It’s great to see the NFRC and key construction colleges are working hard to develop the higher-level syllabus (NVQ3) to make it more relevant to employees needs.
 Source: CITB