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30 Mar 2021

New partnership with national charity helps veterans and service leavers build a new future  

A new partnership has been forged between City College Plymouth and Building Heroes, to deliver construction skills courses at a specialist training centre at Sherford, to help service leavers and veterans retrain, gain valuable skills, and access new careers in an industry crying out for new talent.


Building Heroes is a national charity that supports veterans, service leavers and direct family members, offering practical skills courses to those interested in a career in construction. Delivering accredited courses across the UK, its first course with Sherford Skills Training Scheme took place last year and was the first Building Heroes course to be conducted on a live construction site and not in a purely educational setting.


A full programme of nine courses is planned across the current and next academic years, with the first underway this month. Currently, 12 learners – a combination of military personnel in a resettlement period and unemployed veterans – are on-site and taking part in the fully-funded Building Heroes construction skills course, with the aim of seeking future careers in construction.


During each five-week programme, learners will be tutored by education partner City College Plymouth, with hands-on tuition in various areas of construction and safety, resulting in Level 1 Construction Skills, and Level 1 Health and Safety in a Construction Environment qualifications. Trainees also take the fully-funded Construction Skills Certification Scheme test to get their CSCS Card, necessary to work in any construction environment. They will also benefit from mentoring and gain insights into the industry from Sherford’s housebuilders and contractors, and offered support in finding employment through regular networking events.


The courses will take place at Sherford in its revolutionary £370,000 Skills Training Centre, which was developed to address the region’s skills shortage. It was funded by the Sherford Consortium – a partnership between Taylor Wimpey and Vistry Partnerships – and opened its doors in 2018. The centre has supported the training and development of hundreds of apprentices and armed service leavers, helped create over 280 jobs, and enabled users to retrain and upskill across trades.  


Steven Ricketts, Sherford Skills Training Scheme Coordinator, said, “This new partnership will have a positive impact on the lives of our learners, as well as the local construction industry. More than half of those we teach are former members of the armed forces, and it is an honour to help them gain new skills and pursue an exciting new career path. We now have two major flagship programmes on offer – Building Heroes and CITB Onsite Experience – and the bigger picture is that, by providing this training, we will boost employment opportunities and economic growth."


Karen Jefford, Chief Operations Officer of Building Heroes, said: “We are thrilled to be working with skilled staff at City College Plymouth and Sherford Skills Training Scheme to deliver this programme in Plymouth. It makes perfect sense for our charity to provide support in a city that is synonymous with the Royal Navy and still hosts Europe's largest naval base.


“We are also excited to be delivering on a live construction site, with all the potential employment opportunities and experience that can offer. The success of this delivery model is something we plan to replicate in other areas of the country in the future.”


Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, made a visit to Sherford to meet the first intake of learners taking part in the Building Heroes course back in September 2020. He said, “We have a proud military past and large population of service personnel in Plymouth, which makes it especially vital for us to do all we can to support and provide for our veterans.


“The work of the team at Sherford and Building Heroes shows what collaboration and commitment can achieve. This course is a fantastic example of leaders in construction, education and the charitable sector uniting in the best interests of our veteran community – and I hope to see more of this across the UK.”


Course dates are scheduled for March, May, June, September, November 2021, and February, April, May and July 2022. Anyone interested in finding out more can contact or register online at

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