Low Carbon Construction
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Low Carbon Construction (LCC) specialises in building modular houses. The company are pioneers in an innovative offsite/onsite method of construction, in which a temporary factory is created to assemble structural insulated panels (SIPs) on site. LCC provides the factory plus all materials and equipment and works in partnership with a supply chain of companies which provide the skilled staff required for construction.
LCC’s goal is to make affordable housing more available within the UK to meet local needs and create a more sustainable, better balanced housing market. LCC was established in 2011 and employs a core management team. Local staff who carry out the construction work on site are employed on 4-year rolling contracts within the partner supply chain.
Students are our future
“Students are our future. Our overall objective is to grow the sector and support other companies as well as LCC and our supply chain. There is a known skill shortage in the sector, so we have to change young people’s education, modernise the opportunities and build their knowledge and enthusiasm. With the diverse nature of the curriculum in T Levels, we will be able to provide students with the relevant experience to grow our business from T Level graduates. It’s too good an opportunity to miss.”
Bridgette Farrow, Director at Low Carbon Construction
A flexible curriculum
A lack of up-to-date training programmes to support LCC’s style of construction made Bridgette think about developing a curriculum herself. Then the local college contacted her and explained the diversity of the curriculum available within the T Level routes.
“From what I learned then,” she says, “T Levels seemed to have the required flexibility to provide an answer to the issue of skills development in our sector. The exact pattern will need to evolve,” she adds, “but it will have to be flexible enough to offer placement opportunities for up to a week at the start, whereas on site work later on may be for longer.”
Working closely with supply chain partners, Bridgette and the LCC team have attended meetings and contributed to detailed planning with the college. The curriculum is starting to take shape well as a result. Year 1 of the T Level programme will focus on building students’ skills, knowledge and confidence before they are released for longer industry placements in Year 2.
“Their initial period of preparation should provide students with a solid grounding and enable them to contribute more fully during their placement, which will suit their employers,” says Bridgette.
Coping with disruptions, such as COVID
Bridgette is happy to engage with students and their parents or carers to show them the types of opportunities that will be available and provide reassurance about the quality of T Level industry placements.
“COVID has been a challenge,” she says, “but should not disrupt their plans”. Students would work within the COVID requirements in place for everyone in the construction industry including regular temperature checks, hand cleaning and sanitisers, masks and scheduled breaks away from workstations.
Keeping a close eye on changes in government policy is important as “they are the biggest unknown” she adds. The first placements in LCC and its supply chain companies started in spring 2021., “Lockdowns create the greatest barriers, so we need to know about them well in advance”.
Modular building is still relatively new, and the skills are very specific to this type of construction, which makes it especially important that students understand its potential.
The industry placements LCC is offering are designed to provide up-to-date learning in accord with this type of build. Many of the technical aspects will be included in the placement curriculum, including fitting revolutionary heating systems, specific paint manufacturing and so on. Some placements will involve visits to the paint production unit in Holland as well as site visits in Wales to see one of LCC’s major projects in action.
The benefits of industry placements
“It is a lot of work,” admits Bridgette. “But the payback will be the development of a talent pipeline for LCC, and our supply chain partners. Students coming on industry placements with us will gain a rich understanding of the state-of-the-art products LCC choses to use, our green credentials and the attention to detail required to operate in this sector.”
“The LCC ethos is giving back, and our team and supply partners are signed up to the vision of supporting sustainable development, affordable housing and giving back to the community. Our home purchasers and tenants also have a real buy-in to both the finished product and the green accreditations.”
LCC’s top tips for T Level industry placements
- Be warm and welcoming to students.
- Encourage them to ask questions – as many as they like!
- Give them an approachable link person within the company to ensure effective communication.
- Make them part of the team.
- Keep their interest levels high by engaging them as fully as possible in the work.
- Provide opportunities to enable them to show their potential.