A formerly unemployed factory worker who signed up for a course at City of Wolverhampton College to learn new skills and improve his career prospects has been taken on by the organisation to train others on the same course!
Nathon Kerr, aged 31, from Upper Gornal, enrolled for a free part-time groundworks sector-based work academy programme (SWAP) at the college in February 2020 to re-train and gain the skills and knowledge to carry out groundworks and use plant machinery on construction sites.
The course covers brickwork, block paving, concreting, underground pipework and groundworks, as well as driving and operating small plant machinery with students able to gain their CPCS red trained operator card which demonstrates that they have the level of skills, knowledge and understanding to work in the construction industry.
As well as gaining skills himself, Nathon was keen to help others on the course and his commitment to learning and supporting fellow students so impressed tutors that when a vacancy for a groundworks trainer became available he was encouraged to apply for the post and was offered the job.
Nathon said: “After being made redundant I’d been on Universal Credit for two years and was at a point in my life where I wanted a proper career.
“Doing the course was the first step to getting a job in the construction industry and gave me a lot of confidence – and when I was offered the job at college it was a huge boost.
“I never saw myself in a teaching role but it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s amazing to see students developing skills during the course and to know that I have played a part in their journey to employment.
“I’m absolute proof that these courses work! To go from being on benefits to a full-time teaching position in just two years is fantastic and, with a secure job, I’ve been able to start paying off the debts I accrued when I was unemployed and to start building the life I want for myself and my family.”
Joe McAlster, construction, employability and commercial manager at the college, who taught Nathon on the course, said: “From day one, Nathon showed a commitment to learning and an aptitude for helping others who weren’t as confident and needed some extra support.
“When a vacancy for a groundworks trainer became available we were delighted to be able to offer him the position and he has worked alongside current staff to develop his teaching and training skills.
“Nathon’s achievement shows how successful our SWAPs courses are and that even people who don’t have experience in the sector can re-train and start new careers, whatever their age.”
Since being taken on as a member of college staff, Nathon, along with other tutors, has been involved in delivering seven groundworks courses and training over 70 unemployed people from across the region, as well as helping to set up an online system to deliver health and safety training as part of the plant training programme.
The groundworks course offered by the college is part of a programme of sector-based work academy programmes, delivered in partnership with West Midlands Combined Authority and leading industry partners, to upskill local people and meet the recruitment needs of local employers.
Get details of all SWAPs courses offered by the college here