The entrepreneur undertakes to train young roofers
A roofing contractor is on a mission to help alleviate skills shortages in the industry by committing to providing hands-on work experience to hundreds of young people at his Bellshill training academy.
DMG Services Group, which is led by third-generation tiler Darren McGhee, has partnered with the Scottish Government and its Youth Workforce Development (DYW) scheme for a program that will see pupils from schools across the North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire find out more about career prospects in the roofing industry.
The DYW initiative is designed to help prepare young people for work by connecting businesses with education providers. DMG will work with around 60 high schools, offering a week of professional experience for S4 students and the possibility of participating in basic learning for S5 young people.
Darren, who won three Apprentice of the Year accolades early in his career, told Project Scotland the importance of providing opportunities for young people to break into the industry and change the ‘image problem’ often associated with the roof.
“My father and my grandfather were roofers; I became an apprentice as soon as I left school,” Darren said. “Roofing has such a bad reputation (because of) shopkeepers and rogue cowboys. Our goal is to try and change that by getting kids out of school and teaching them how to do roofing the right way. »
Darren explained that someone from DYW contacted the company after reading some of the company’s social media posts. After some discussion, a contingent of DYW came to see the training academy at Strathclyde Business Park.
“They loved it!” Darren added. “The facilities are amazing. The students are coming, we have already set up six roof platforms.
“The academy officially opened in December last year. We have also just become a satellite center for a company in London called LSTA (Lead Sheet Training Academy).
The skills DMG teaches range from basic things like how to properly saw and hammer a nail, to more complicated tasks like fixing tiles, battens and felt to keep water out.
Darren is keen to highlight the rewarding careers available.
“I wasn’t very academic at school,” he said. “And when I left, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I loved it from the moment I started as a tiler and had this hammer in my hand. There’s no secret to being a successful tiler – just work hard and be the best you can be. If you work hard, you will reap the rewards.
DMG already offers trials for young people considering a career in roofing, giving them the chance to enter a controlled environment to learn. There is the ability to pick things up at their own pace without the pressure of being on a live job site.
“We can take our time and teach them, and spend more time with them. All learners learn at a different pace and may be at different stages,” Darren explained. “One might pick it up a little faster than the others. Our facilities mean we can control this and manage it for each specific student.
“My standards are very high. I believe I am doing the job correctly. I think it’s very important that if I can bring people straight from school, bring them to college, they won’t have bad habits and only know my way of teaching. I will make this an experienced tradesperson who knows absolutely everything about roofing and most importantly the right way to do it.
DMG, which has 15 employees and is a proud employer of Living Wage, works with a number of leading homebuilders and has created what Darren describes as the UK’s first roof care package called MyRoofCare.
Customers pay a monthly fee and in return DMG visits every six months to clean their gutters and provide a £500 allowance towards the cost of any repairs that occur. Tailor-made packages are also available for businesses.
“Clients know who their roofing contractor is and who’s going to come out every time,” Darren said. “We are building that trust with them and MyRoofCare will eventually be franchiseable. I will be selling it to other roofers across the UK. It has been around for three years and has been very successful. We have over 300 customers.
Reflecting on training the next generation of roofers, Darren highlighted the importance for companies like DMG to connect with the local community, including schools.
“This (DYW initiative) is the greatest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “It shows our ambition. It will help young people leaving school. If I get them into the academy, teach them and find them a job, that will also help my business grow. It is beneficial for both parties to do something like this. If you treat young people well and pay them what they are worth, they will stay with you forever.