Housing minister Brandon Lewis today visited a bricklaying academy in Ilkeston set up by an Ilkeston builder.
Ilkeston born Ian Hodgkinson was inspired to set up Hodgkinson’s Bricklaying Academy at Derby College due to a lack of qualified bricklayers in the area.
Mr Lewis spoke to students and said he was impressed with the site, based at the Pilmico campus. He told the ‘Tiser: “I think it’s brilliant. It’s not just the physical facility but the enthusiasm - everyone has a smile on their face and it is very contagious.
“There are places doing this but not on this scale - the academy is showing people how to lay bricks and preparing them for the workplace.
“We do need more people coming into the industry, it’s an exciting and rewarding career where people can point at a place and say ‘I built that’. That’s what is special.”
Mr Hodgkinson said: “It’s great to be part of this and to start in Ilkeston is fantastic. I was originally a bricklayer and went to South East Derbyshire College where I did an apprenticeship. It’s the ultimate dream for me to have this in Ilkeston and it has been successful. It is nice to have a legacy but we have got a skills crisis and there is a serious point to it. Hopefully we can do something about the skills gap.
“This is a crucial area for the economy and I am absolutely delighted that the minister has taken time to visit us and to see what we are doing here. We’ve got ambitious young people seeing that a career in bricklaying and construction in general is full of rewards and it is fantastic to be working with such a forward-thinking organisation as Derby College on this academy.”
Amongst those who will start their course on Monday are Kane Grainger, 16. He said: “I did plastering first but then tried this and decided it’s what I wanted to do. I heard about the academy through my uncle who works in construction.”