Building the Workforce of the Future

Cortexa are experienced long-term providers of e-Learning solutions within Merchanting. Working in partnership with individual businesses and trade bodies, we have built numerous Learning Management Systems and populated them with hundreds of online training courses. However, the industry itself has continued to struggle with a deep-seated recruitment challenge. Despite offering career paths as varied as almost any other industry they still find vacancies tough to fill.

Recently businesses and representing trade bodies have gathered to consider how to turn the tide. After far reaching discussions the resulting action plan quickly established two key areas of need; initial recruitment and then fast track education combined with defined career development paths.

It was agreed that the initial recruit challenge was best handled centrally by the industry’s leading body, the Builders Merchant Federation (BMF). Their solution was the relaunch of a new and improved recruitment website.   The website – – promotes apprenticeships, life-long learning and gives members the opportunity to manage their job advertisements free of charge using the ‘Advertise A Job’ facility. Potential apprentices and employees will then be able to easily locate these roles, using the region, sector and location search filters. The site also highlights the BMF’s Ambassador programme and explains that schools and colleges can invite someone working in the industry to share their experience at careers events.

The fast track learning requirement and career paths challenge was passed into Cortexa’s capable hands and so the BMF Building Blocks programme was born. The first aim was to provide apprentices, new starters and existing staff with a solid foundation of product knowledge – in so doing providing a joined-up approach to staff retention and career progression. Through collaboration with industry experts, every core topic will eventually be covered to form a truly all-encompassing and long-term training programme that can be revisited again and again.

This project is undoubtedly the most ambitious and far reaching online training initiative ever launched for the Merchant community. The full undertaking is expected to take up to five years during which time some 30 Building Blocks will become available creating in excess of 250 hours of industry specific training.

The four Blocks already available cover, residential construction, heating and hot water comfort, timber in construction and building insulation. Future Blocks will be tailored to train and support staff progression throughout the business, offering management and financial training along with a raft of soft skills.

Cortexa are an approved online centre for NVQs and the BMF Building Blocks Programme will be fully accredited by Occupational Awards in the near future.

Whilst both these new initiatives are still gathering momentum the signs are encouraging and the commitment to the success of both already has very firm foundations.

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Original Article by Cortexa