On July 18th, 2023, Building Heroes was delighted to celebrate the official opening of the Hounsome Fields Skills Academy, a joint initiative between Building Heroes and Vistry Group, one of the UK's leading homebuilders.
Located near Basingstoke, this academy, which opened its doors in April 2023, aims to support 72 service leavers, veterans, reserves, and military family members each year, with a focus on individuals from the local Aldershot Army Garrison, Portsmouth Naval Base, the RAF at Odiham, and other minor units in the vicinity.
The selection of Hounsome Fields as the site for the academy was strategic, considering the strong military presence in the area, including the British Army's Headquarters in Andover. Developed in a 50/50 joint venture with Wates Group, the Hounsome Fields site provides an ideal environment for military personnel transitioning to civilian life.
Building Heroes, a Queens Award-winning charity renowned for successfully training and graduating over 2,600 military personnel to date, has brought its expertise to the academy. The programme offers re-skilling and redeployment into the civilian workplace, specifically targeting the building, construction, and engineering sectors. The curriculum follows the various stages of a building's lifecycle, providing learners with valuable skills and employment pathways as they transition from service to civilian life.
Gareth, an Army veteran leaving the Royal Engineers after 24 years of service, expressed his enthusiasm for the Building Heroes construction skills course: "The training facilities and resources provided are first-class, and the ability to learn in a relaxed environment allows everyone to progress at their own speed. I feel confident that the skills I have gained will be invaluable moving forward."
Sparsholt College and University Centre, located nearby in Winchester and Andover, is the training partner supporting Building Heroes' academy. This collaboration not only contributes to the local economy but also fosters the creation of sustainable communities.
The learners at the academy undergo a comprehensive five-week program that equips them with valuable skills and experience in key trades such as carpentry, bricklaying, and plumbing. The immersive experience is enhanced by access to three of Vistry's innovative 'Unwrapped Homes,' where key construction features are revealed, providing a deeper understanding of the industry.
As with all the Building Heroes Basic Construction Skills City & Guilds programmes, upon completion learners receive a Level 1 City & Guild Construction Skills Qualification, a CSCS card, and a Health and Safety certificate. These qualifications serve as a solid foundation for further training and open up various opportunities in property maintenance, Health & Safety, site and project management, and specialisation in a specific trade.
Adam, leaving after 25 years of service with the Grenadier Guards, expressed his satisfaction with the course: "The Hounsome Fields Academy has been very interesting. To go from not understanding any kind of construction to being able to put up a wall and learn the basics of plastering has been rewarding. The diverse backgrounds of the people on the course have made it amazing and enjoyable."
The Hounsome Fields Skills Academy is a significant part of Vistry's commitment to delivering a minimum of 800 learners through their on-site skills academy initiative by 2025. The Group has made substantial investments to address the industry's skills gap and create opportunities for individuals within the local community.
Keith Carnegie, CEO of Housebuilding at Vistry Group, expressed his pride in the academy's achievements: "We are incredibly proud to celebrate the graduation of our first group of students from the Hounsome Fields Skills Academy. This initiative has made a tangible impact by contributing to local employment and the creation of sustainable communities. As we continue our commitment to deliver a minimum of 800 learners through our on-site skills academy initiative by 2025, we are grateful for the support of Building Heroes and our key partners. Together, we are building a brighter future for our veterans, our industry, and the local community."
Karen Jefford, CEO of Building Heroes, emphasised the significance of partnerships in providing new careers for veterans: "Working in partnership with forward-thinking organisations like Vistry Group enables Building Heroes to provide pathways into the construction industry for veterans. We are proud to work with Vistry Group, an organisation that not only recognises the benefits of a military skill set but is also committed to building a diverse workforce. Our unique academy model facilitates local outcomes that drive innovation, ultimately creating an industry with resilient teams. We couldn't be prouder of our partnership, which offers military graduates a pathway into an organisation that supports their transition."
As Building Heroes and Vistry Group celebrate this graduation of learners from the Hounsome Fields Skills Academy and the future of this successful skill centre, we look forward to continuing their partnership and making a lasting impact on veterans, the construction industry, and the local community.