New degree builds on success

Jewson, the UK's leading builders' merchant, recently launched the first ever Foundation degree in Builders' Merchanting. This development arose from an initial EBTA engagement to accredit a package of in house training developed by Jewson to upskill their existing workforce.

Taking a lead

Jewson is the UK's leading supplier of timber and building products with a national network of more than 500 branches. It is also a key member of the Building Distribution division of parent company Saint-Gobain, which has a long commitment to staff development and staff progression opportunities.

In the absence of provision that met the specific needs of the builders' merchant sector, Jewson worked with a private training provider to develop a package of in house training to support potential branch managers. This was a significant commitment and investment in the development of internal candidates into branch manager roles within the company.

The EBTA service has supported Jewson to form a new partnership with Birmingham City University to accredit this training in its own right and as part of the new Foundation degree in Builders' Merchanting – a first for the sector. A key driver for engagement was the wish to reward their staff through external recognition of a Jewson higher level award.

Jewson builders’ merchantPeter Hindle MBE, Managing Director of Jewson and Chief Executive of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland, explains:

"The Jewson Foundation degree is an industry first. We recognise that investing in our people, particularly in today's challenging economic climate, is essential

if we are to maintain our position as the UK's leading builders' merchant and ensure that Jewson emerges from the recession ahead of its competitors.

"The Jewson Foundation degree will also reinforce the crucial role of the builders' merchant in helping the construction sector deliver a more sustainable built environment.

"It will further professionalise our involvement with the relevant supply-chains and ensure that our students are well-equipped to play a leading role in the future of the construction industry."

The EBTA process

The employee base of Jewson is representative of the sector; predominantly male with high levels of loyalty to the company and limited formal qualifications. The potential branch managers (PBM) in house training supports 90 employees a year selected from across the organisation. Successful completion of the PBM training confers membership to the Institute of Builders' Merchants.

The EBTA process supported Jewson in reviewing the existing PBM training and identifying other short cycle in house training that could potentially be accredited. The PBM package was nominally assigned a credit volume and level - 100 credits at level 4.

EBTA also supported Jewson to explore progression opportunities building on from the PBM to meet their wider workforce needs. This included a full Foundation degree to develop those in branch manager posts and future proofing of the business through potential postgraduate qualifications.

By providing the best training Jewson can continue to attract and retain talent within builders' merchanting and provide an unparalleled level of service and expertise to its customers across all of construction market sectors in an increasingly competitive market.

Celebrating good practice

Jewson's first Fd students at House of CommonsA special reception at the House of Commons provided a high profile launch for this landmark development for the sector. Ian Lucas MP, Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, met with Jewson's first Fd students and spoke of the industry- wide significance of the degree.

Formal recognition and accreditation of the professional role the builders' merchant provides serves to identify, encourage, motivate and retain the very best people into the role, and ultimately contribute to the growth of the business.

The next step

The EBTA process has supported Jewson to find a new higher education partner, Birmingham City University, to support them in developing innovative and fit for purpose sector relevant education and training for their staff.

The measure of the success of this partnership is the development of a Foundation degree in Builders' Merchanting with the first intake recruited this year.

The EBTA service offers the support of a consultant up to a maximum of 4 days, free of charge, to help review the training and support in identifying a suitable University partner. In using the service, there is no obligation on the part of the employer to pursue any recommendations which may be made.

Please note: This case study was originally produced for the fdf, that organisation no longer exists.