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MPQC working with Mates in Mind

Anthony Elgey

Apprenticeships to change attitudes to workplace mental health, according to industry standards and training body

AS part of National Apprenticeship Week [5–9 March], the Mineral Products Qualifications Council (MPQC) – the organization that sets the standards as well as developing qualifications and skills for the extractives industry – has announced that it will be working with mental health charity Mates in Mind within its apprenticeships, in a bid to change attitudes to mental health in the sector.

Research shows that more than half of the workforce in the extractives sector is over the age of 45, and male workers represent 90% of all employees. According to Mates in Mind, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50, and those working in construction as a whole are at three times greater risk than the national male average.

Not only does an ageing workforce highlight a pressing need to encourage young people into the sector, it also creates an opportunity to tackle previous approaches to mental health in the workplace. By educating the next generation from the start of their careers, MPQC hopes to bring in a new mindset towards mental health, as it believes that apprenticeships create the ideal vehicle for implementing change.

Anthony Elgey (pictured), general manager of MP Futures, one of MPQC’s three divisions, said: ‘Mental health is something that employers across the construction sector, including the extractives industry, are signing up to tackle.

'MPQC aren’t just focused on developing high-quality apprenticeships, we are also looking to develop individuals who will challenge the stigma of mental health issues. By working with Mates in Mind and instilling its principles into our apprenticeships, we can ensure that the next generation of workers has a positive attitude towards mental health from day one.’

Mates in Mind was established by the Health in Construction Leadership Group, with the support of the British Safety Council, in 2016. It aims to provide clear information, support and guidance to employers on mental health, illness and well-being, and how these issues can be addressed.

Joscelyne Shaw, executive director of Mates in Mind, said: ‘In a YouGov poll for the Prince’s Trust last year it was found that almost half of those 16- to 25-year-olds polled said they had themselves experienced a mental health problem; and of those a third felt that admitting to problems could harm their job chances.

‘With this understanding, Mates in Mind is delighted to be able to work alongside MPQC in reaching out to support its apprentices – helping to raise their awareness and understanding of mental health; and helping to overcome the isolation and stigma so many suffer from by instilling an approach that promotes a culture of positive well-being throughout the industry.’

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