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Setting standards around airports on a long term basis.'

Airports authority BAA and five of its key construction suppliers have teamed up with East Berkshire College to provide a consistent standard of training for all operatives working on BAA sites.

The Heathrow Construction Training Centre at Feltham in Middlesex provides construction skills training specific to an airport environment for existing and potential employees of BAA's framework suppliers. The centre was launched in November 1998 by East Berkshire College and the Airport Construction Training Alliance (ACTA), which comprises BAA and five of its key contractors. The training initiative is part of BAA's drive to improve the value and predictability of service from its construction suppliers.

BAA senior project engineer Gren Tipper says: 'We know from experience that better quality, safety and efficiency comes from a competent workforce. Our aim is to give BAA and its contractors the benefit of a pool of skilled people who will continue to work in and

The initiative is in line with the Construction Task Force's report Rethinking construction which stressed the need to improve the efficiency and predictability of the construction industry by training its workforce better.

Key framework suppliers involved with ACTA are AMEC Civil Engineering, AMEC M&E Services, Crown House Engineering, Laing Civil Engineering and O'Rourke Civil Engineering. Other construction partners have also joined.

Tipper says construction workers employed by ACTA contractors are going through a process of 'upskilling' to make sure their skills match high BAA standards. Construction skills courses at the facility, including concrete placing, steelfixing and paving, are supervised by an assessor over a 16 week period to NVQ level two standard. Individuals can then work towards registration with the CITB's Construction Skills Certification Scheme, to gain national recognition of attained competency.

'We are currently in the process of training assessors who will be seconded to work on site with our contractors and help them establish competence portfolios for all ACTA site operatives,' said Tipper.

The training centre also provides full time courses lasting up to 24 weeks for local school leavers and the unemployed looking to gain employment with ACTA contractors, says Tipper.

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