A training hub aimed at providing opportunities for the unemployed, addressing Shropshire’s housing shortage, and boosting the county’s construction industry, has been given the go-ahead after a £650,000 Government grant was secured by a strong consortium of local businesses.

Known as the Marches Construction Ready Partnership the group which includes The Wrekin Housing Trust, training provider Landau Ltd, Telford College, Beattie Passive and Hawk Safety & Training, aims to introduce around 400 skilled construction workers to the Marches area by training the long-term unemployed, students and people looking to make a career change into the construction industry.

The initiative will see a construction manufacturing hub based in Telford, where learners will be taught key construction and offsite manufacturing skills needed. Learners will also receive the training necessary for the first stage construction processes for passive housing, which are advanced, low energy, draft-free buildings featuring high performance insulation to effectively eliminate heat loss. Most of the heating in these properties comes from sunlight, electrical appliances and even body heat meaning almost no heating systems are required.

There will also be two mobile training hubs providing all training activities for learners on building sites across the Marches. Professionals from The Wrekin Housing Trust will oversee the supervision and management of trainees at both the on-site hubs and construction sites.

Each learner will be assigned a construction worker ‘buddy’ to build confidence, ensure a supportive learning environment and reduce drop-out rates. Learners on the scheme could gain ongoing employment opportunities with The Wrekin Housing Trust and other local construction sector partners.

Wayne Gethings, The Trust’s Managing Director, said: “This is a fantastic project on so many levels. It will provide training and jobs for those who have struggled to find work, which in turn means giving the construction industry access a much-needed workforce.

“We are really pleased to have had the support of Telford and Wrekin Council during the bid stage of this project and we look forward to working with them and the other local authorities across the Marches area to deliver on the project by providing training opportunities and much needed affordable homes.”

Sonia Roberts, CEO at Landau Ltd, said: “The hubs will provide high-quality on-site environment to engage with those who have previously struggled with traditional learning environments, taking them successfully through the ‘Work Ready’, ‘Site Ready’, ‘Skills Ready’ course modules.

“The factory training hub will be equipped to focus upon learning skills used in construction- manufacturing of Passivhaus structural panels. The skill set taught is transferable within the construction industry and enables the learner to quickly master local industry-required manufacturing techniques.”

Graham Guest, Principal and CEO at Telford College, said: “We provide opportunities for learning across a whole range of subjects everyday and we are really excited to be part of this project working with local employers to help provide the skills for individuals to enter the construction industry. At Telford College we will be working with learners on their employability skills during the work ready module, which will complement the hands-on skills that they will move on to.”

Matt Bourne, General Manager at Safety and Training which is part of the Hawk Group, said: “We relish the opportunity to be working on this project with local partners to provide opportunities to get into such a rewarding industry. At Safety and Training we provide learning and support to many of the construction sector’s biggest players and during this project we will be helping to make the learners site ready.”

Martin Rinvolucri at Passivhaus designers Beattie Passive said: “The Passivhaus structures will ensure that the homes built for affordable rent, will be of the highest quality and performance. The homes will be extremely comfortable and promote healthy living, have low maintenance costs over the long-term and up to 90% fuel reduction, helping to eradicate fuel poverty”.

Gill Hamer, Director of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership which supported the funding bid, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have supported this project throughout its development and worked with industry to bring much-needed on-site construction skills training to the region.

“This scheme will help boost our economy, create employment opportunities and offer a new route into the construction industry for anyone wishing to develop their skills.”

Funding for this project comes from the Construction Skills Fund which aims to create 20 training hubs around the country. The 18-month scheme is funded by the Department for Education administered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

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