YOUNG adults have been rolling up their sleeves and getting a taste of trades in construction.

The initiative is designed to help those who are not in education, employment or training gain the necessary skills to apply for jobs in the industry.

Jon Orrell is the director of Hop Consulting, the Hove-based civil and structural engineering consultancy behind the scheme.

He said: “A lot of people can’t even get their foot in the door to construction as they aren’t able to apply for a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, which requires a touch screen test.

“Some of these people don’t have access to a computer.

“Without something like this, they wouldn’t be able to get off the mark.”

The intensive two-week training programme includes sessions in a range of trades, including plastering, carpentry and joinery and brickwork, with teaching input from many Sussex businesses.

Hop HR manager Ria French said: “We organise the programme but it’s all the contractors who are giving them the practical skills to get a job.

“We like to close the gap between education and industry.

“When we first ran the scheme in 2016 there were a few people who actually got jobs straight away with the contractors.

“From this year onwards, we are hoping to make it an annual programme.”

Ria added that a lot of staff at Hop began their own careers through an apprenticeship or in labouring jobs, including their director Jon.

Jon said: “I had a difficult start, with a bad school performance.

“But when I started labouring, the foreman saw that I could sketch, and I eventually did a civil engineering degree at Brighton university.

“I was the worst student there, but now I’m in a position to help others up the ladder.”

After a few days of training, the students are given the chance to put their skills into practice by carrying out repair works at different sites in Brighton, including the Fishing Museum on the seafront.

Jon said seeing their hard work pay off can give participants a crucial confidence boost.

He said: “What they’ve been doing here is using their joinery skills to repair the outdoor benches and some of the boats.

“Now, whenever they walk along the seafront here they can point at this bench and say ‘I did that’.

“And who better to learn off than the experts?

“Some of these firms have decades of experience.”

One of the companies running a session for students is Worthing-based Southern Decorators.

Decorator Kevin Seaman said: “It’s been very hands-on – I hope they’ve enjoyed it.

“They’ve done really well.

“Even some of my own staff don’t pick things up this quickly.”

Participant Holly Russell was enthusiastic about the training.

The 20-year-old, of Thornhill Rise, Brighton, said: “Today I’ve been doing some sawing and made a frame.

“I’ve been looking forward to the painting and decorating as I did my whole bedroom myself at home and really enjoyed it.

“They’re good teachers here.”

Ria said the 16 students have come from different backgrounds, but they have all made good progress since the course began on Monday.

She said: “These people have been picked up as they are unemployed or have come out of education early.

“Everyone is in a different situation.

“There’s a girl here who wants to get off Universal Credit and others who didn’t complete college.

“There are quite a few who may have struggled with other difficulties too, like anxiety.”

At the end of the course, students can take the test for a CSCS card, which can be the ticket towards a job.

Ria said: “It makes a huge difference.

“All we can do is give them this opportunity, and hopefully they will go on and get a good job.”