The burgeoning construction industry in the GCC has become a hub for global construction firms and contractors, attracting a large labour force, especially from Southeast Asia.
For construction operatives arriving in the UAE from around the world, learning the ropes and adapting to local regulations can be a challenge. For this reason, Al Naboodah Construction Group launched a trade school to re-train its operatives on basic construction skills.
Located in Al Awir, Dubai, the trade school began operations in January 2016, and provides training for construction workers in Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) International Health and Safety Passport programmes, health and safety, mechanical and electrical works, steel fixing, shuttering, masonry, scaffolding, tiling, and plastering.
Statia Breen, learning and development manager at Al Naboodah Group Enterprises – Al Naboodah Construction Group, explains to Construction Week how the training works. “Each programme runs for five to six days, except for the health and safety course, which is a one-day programme. The school is open six days a week, from 8.30am to 4.30pm.”
Each week, the trade school trains 100 operatives, after which they are given a certificate of participation and graded according to their level of learning.
The trade school is only open to Al Naboodah Construction Group employees, and training is provided to operatives in three languages: Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali. Most of the construction workers are from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Breen explains.
Since January 2016, the centre has trained more than 6,000 employees. Plans to introduce vocational training courses for new employees, and for those who wish to change careers, are also in the pipeline.
All trainers work as full-time educators with Al Naboodah Construction. Each has 20 years of experience in their respective fields, and seven years’ experience as educators. The trade school was certified with the ECITB accreditation in August 2016, and is currently in the process of gaining City & Guilds accreditation.
Breen explains in detail what each training course entails. “We have a five-day basic scaffold awareness programme, plus a one-day legal session with an external law expert. All scaffolders who join Al Naboodah have to attend this training programme. We also have scaffolder inspector training held at the trade school. All the programmes are then followed by legislative training, which is a UAE requirement. ”
She continues: “Each programme consists of five to six modules, depending on the number of days. Each day, a different module is taught and, according to how they perform in each module, operatives receive a rating that is reflected in their grades.”
Walking us through the trade school, Breen says: “Once the scaffolders within the company have completed their initial training, they will come back after six months on refresher programmes. At the scaffolding zone, 15 scaffolders are brought in each week, and work between two bays with two trainers. The onsite supervisors are also trained.”
Launched recently, Al Naboodah’s one-day health and safety course employs what Breen describes as “visual impact training” to highlight the importance of safety on the job site. This is achieved through a 45-minute theatrical performance of four different scenarios, dealing with health, safety, and injury issues – all acted out.
She elaborates: “The idea behind this is to demonstrate to all the construction site operatives the correct method for working onsite. We have a foreman and five actors on the team.”