The Training Organisation for Professionals in Construction (TOPIC) has embarked on several innovative construction training support projects since its inception in 1997.
A regional construction careers advice and guidance project has followed the initial desk study stage; and TOPIC is playing a major role in the development of a voluntary code of best practice for training providers with the DETR's Construction Best Practice Programme (CBPP).
'We carried out the first of our annual comprehensive training and career development surveys of construction companies during 1998,' says TOPIC development director Sheila Hoile.
'According to those that responded, the results of the survey will provide a useful benchmarking tool for training activities.'
TOPIC has also established its own website, which supplies information on the organisation's work, a training database and a listing of companies that have successfully signed up to the training code of practice, says Hoile.
'We are effectively providing a quality assurance service to enable training and course providers to prove the value of what they are offering and for employers and graduates to see who is providing a best practice service,' she says.
There are three steps to follow to become registered as a Best Practice trainer.
Companies must first enrol with TOPIC. This is currently free of charge and results in the successful applicant being included on the TOPIC Training Database. Self assessment and Best Practice registration forms must then be completed and measures put in place and maintained to meet the code.
'Companies that implement all the necessary measures and work to the code of practice will be identified as Best Practice trainers,' says Hoile.
'The key to the system is feedback that must be provided from the trainers' clients according to CBPP guidance. The company or organisation is retained as a Best Practice trainer only if levels of customer satisfaction meet the agreed quality standard every year, otherwise an improvement plan and re-registration is required.'
TOPIC is also developing the Department for Education & Employment's Guidance for Graduates construction careers advice and guidance service with support from the Careers Research & Advisory Centre. The DEE is funding the project until 2000 under its Higher Education, Quality & Employment programme.
'Guidance for Graduates is being developed to provide support for construction industry graduates, particularly during the transition stage between graduation and employment and towards pursuing chartered status from the professional institutions,' says Hoile.