From education to employment

First Big Brother Winner to Help Tackle Liverpool’s Skills Gap for Capital of Cul

Proving that some celebrities use their fame and position in the public eye for the benefit of others, the first winner of Channel 4’s hit “reality” show Big Brother Craig Phillips will be helping to bridge the gap in skills in construction in Liverpool.

He is founding a new construction training centre in Ainstree ““ with the support of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) ““ to address the shortage of trained construction workers in Liverpool. The aim is to alleviate this problem before 2008, with Liverpool due to play host to the European Capital of Culture in that year. According to the Sector Skills council responsible for construction, CITB ““ Construction, there is a shortage of skilled workers for vital projects leading up to 2008, amounting to approximately 8,000 positions.

Value Across The Mersey

The funding from the LSC will provide equipment and facilities for up to 180 students at the centre in an industry which they say “suffers from the second worst skills shortages of any industry, with almost 43 per cent of total job vacancies remaining unfilled because of a lack of skilled candidates.” The college will have a staff of up to 14 teachers, and will offer NVQs in construction. Craig, in partnership with Mike and Elaine Hindley, has invested £500,000 in this centre at the Barclays Business Park.

The centre, Craig feels, will enable him to help in the best way possible. He is not trained as a teacher, and so he cannot teach the courses himself; however, he is looking forward to helping by “supporting the staff with my practical skills.” Since winning the inaugural Big Brother in 2000, he has appeared as a handyman on ITV, and looks forward to being at the college five days a week when it opens. Thanks to owning his own TV production company, he is able to “pick and choose” which media and television work to take on; and this will afford him a great deal of flexibility when it comes to helping the centre achieve its goals.

The LSC are delighted to be cooperating with Craig in this project, and see this as a great opportunity for addressing the national skills shortage in the sector, albeit on a local level. The Executive Director of the LSC Greater Merseyside, Elaine Bowker, said: “By working with Craig we can bring real value to Merseyside. We will fund training to help people gain the right skills for employment and Craig will use his links with employers to place the new recruits, helping to fill skills gaps. Its fantastic to have Craigs support, as he understands the business and has the confidence of employers.”

Jethro Marsh

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