Learning / Training

Building up manual labour skills

By lowie trevena, Friday Mar 20, 2020

With the manual labour industries continuing to grow, the range of courses offered in Bristol continues to grow with it with the announcement of a new Advanced Construction Skills Centre opening in September 2021 at the City of Bristol College.

For school leavers and older, there are a wide range of training schemes on offer locally, from engineering manufacturing apprenticeships to furniture making courses for people with extra educational needs.


Bristol24/7 takes a look at the city’s engineering, automotive and construction courses:


There are several options in Bristol for engineering courses, including the City of Bristol College, Bristol Technology and Engineering College and the British Engineering Manufacturing Association (BEMA).

The City of Bristol College offers courses for both school leavers and adults, including apprenticeships in aircraft maintenance engineering to extended diplomas in engineering technologies. The college also offers courses specifically for school leavers, such as certificates in electrical installation.

The Bristol Technology and Engineering College, based near Filton, offer a range of diplomas and BTECs in engineering, as well as traditional A Levels in STEM subjects.

BEMA offer specifically engineering manufacturing apprenticeships in partnership with companies that are members of the association.

A young person at BEMA. Photo courtesy of BEMA

The organisation’s Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships and have manufacturing engineering training workshop, equipped with conventional turning, milling, and surface grinding machines, as well as a milling and turning workshop, and classrooms to support the technical qualifications taught. Students will leave with an advanced diploma in advanced manufacturing.


There are a number of options for getting to grips with car mechanics, including introduction courses. Weston College offer a car maintenance basics course, while Auto Know-How, based in Bedminster Down, run courses for young people in engine diagnostics, new driver skills and DIY servicing.

S&B Automotive Academy are the main post-16 training providers in formal courses. Established in 1970, the academy offer apprenticeships in a complete range of disciplines including heavy vehicles, buses and coaches, light vehicles, parts, body repairs, painting and auto-electrics.

S&B Automotive Academy started in 1970. Photo courtesy of S&B Automotive Academy

Courses for professionals are incredibly wide ranging as well, and offer business leadership, management and sales courses and also more traditional qualifications, such as welding and advanced electronics.

S&B even include IMI Accreditation in areas such as air con and electric vehicles, as well as complete MOT training.


Construction in Bristol is particularly well-covered. The City of Bristol College offer courses in a huge range of disciplines, such as bench joinery, site carpentry, brickwork and plastering. These are offered from Level 1 through to Level 3. Level 4 qualifications are also offered in site management and construction and the built environment.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College also offer courses in construction and, like the City of Bristol College, these are offered to both school leavers and people aged over 19.

The college’s courses include Level 1 qualifications in painting and decorating through Level 3 carpentry diplomas for 16 to 19-year-olds.

For those over 19, the college also offer taster courses in areas such as bricklaying and plumbing, as well as part time and fulltime programmes in areas including service inspection and testing of electrical equipment, carpentry and plastering.

Outside of traditional-style education, Ngaged, Didac and On Site Bristol also offer courses in construction.

Didac’s training facilities. Photo courtesy of Didac

On Site Bristol provides an extensive programme of construction apprenticeships in partnership with local employers, ranging from joinery to electrical installation. The organisation’s programmes are designed to help trainees progress to Advanced Level Apprenticeships and into sustained careers.

Ngaged, based in Broomhill, offer more specialised construction programmes, alongside courses including hospitality, health and social care and taxi driver training.

Training offered in construction at Ngaged include an all-encompassing Construction Skills Certification Scheme, certificate in driving forklifts, Level 2 certifcates in warehousing and storage principles and Level 1 certificate in safe road skills and attitudes for anyone wanting to be employed in vehicle driving.

Lastly, Didac, located in Crew’s Hole, offer a unique option for young people with educational needs. As well as running apprenticeship schemes and short courses in everything from shopfitting to noise assessments, the organisation also offer programmes in furniture making course, using hand tools, power tools and wood machinery for those who need an additional helping hand.

Main photo by Freia Turland

Read more: A new skills centre will help more people get into construction

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