University's bespoke quarry course
First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
Two major quarrying companies are investing in their workforce by boosting their skills through bespoke qualifications launched by the University of Leicester in central England.
Aggregate providers Holcim and Lafarge are individually working with the university’s Department of Geology on the first UK postgraduate courses developed specifically for the quarrying industry.
The distance learning courses utilise work-based learning, supplemented by residentials with high-level industry specialists provided by the companies themselves.
Much of the learning and teaching at the residentials is carried out practically on quarries at the rock-face, rather than delivering lectures in the classroom (what used to be known as chalk and talk).
The postgraduate programme is further adjusted to each company’s requirements; targets their respective needs and is offered to the respective companies’ employees.
The courses prepare staff for senior management roles in their respective companies and are aimed at experienced quarry workers with limited qualifications or recent graduates requiring a fast-track route to skills specific to the quarrying industry.
Toby White, course director of quarry programmes, said: “The important thing about these courses is that they are developed with, and focused towards, the needs of two of the world’s largest quarrying companies. This is tailored provision of advanced postgraduate material and we work closely with them to make sure it meets their needs.
“By the end the student will have a full breadth of appreciation for how the industry works, as opposed to when they came in when they probably had good practical experience but not necessarily exposure to the full context of their work.
“The joined-up nature of how these courses developed was fantastic: it’s how I believe employer engagement should work.”
Jim Verity, human resources director for Lafarge Aggregates, said: “The development of this programme with Leicester University demonstrates our continuing commitment to developing the skills and knowledge of our workforce. We have found this programme has significantly contributed to improving the overall standards in our quarries.”
The one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Quarry Management and Operations follows the success of the department’s Diamond Professional course, developed in conjunction with DeBeers and the Diamond Trading Company.
Students will benefit from ongoing research by academics in the department embedded in the course materials as well as Leicester’s prime location.
Kip Jeffrey, director of distance learning in the Department of Geology, added: “What a lot of people don’t appreciate is that Leicester really is the home of the UK quarrying industry. If you were to look around Leicester you would see some of the country’s largest quarries. We are an export county: we are at the frontline of aggregate provision.
“The industry is under pressure, like any other that relies on construction at the moment. We would say we’re well placed to help them work as efficiently as possible by getting their staff trained.”
The Postgraduate Certificate in Quarry Management and Operations is currently only open to employees of Lafarge or Holcim (operating in the UK as Aggregate Industries) participating in their employer’s respectively tailored programme.