From education to employment

Local construction learning hubs help train the North West’s next generation of employees

Two on-site learning hubs funded by the Construction Skills Fund (CSF) are training the next generation of employees across the North West to help bridge the skills gap in the construction industry.

Both learning hubs are well on track to meet all contract KPIs and offer practical training and job opportunities to local people in Greater Manchester and across the whole region, including South Lancashire, Cumbria and Liverpool City Region.

With 78 trainees in total securing sustained employment through both hubs, Stretford-based social housing frameworks and service provider Procure Plus has partnered with a variety of community groups to offer training that is developed and delivered by training partner B4Box. This has created a unique training model that delivers training directly where candidates are based in the region which has resulted in sustained employment for 70 trainees to date.

Chloe Fleming, age 21 from Swinton, who was previously NEET (a young person not in employment, education or training) is one such candidate who has benefitted from training at the learning hub coordinated by Procure Plus. After struggling with a sense of direction, an opportunity as an apprentice painter and decorator at the hub offered Chloe the chance to gain a qualification in a trade. Despite having no previous experience of working in construction or on a building site, the course confirmed Chloe’s ambitions to secure the role and she is currently on track to achieve qualifications and begin a successful career.

The majority of candidates are being recruited from local community groups and more deprived areas, with many experiencing barriers to work. To date, 299 trainees have benefitted from the scheme in the North West and are ready to move into employment once offers have been secured. The Construction Academy via The Growth Company, a Manchester-based organisation dedicated to driving growth in the local region has partnered with the University of Manchester and Manchester City Council and has so far trained 51 candidates, all of whom are now fully qualified to join the construction industry.

24 year old Stephen Ngoue from Manchester began his journey into the construction industry in March 2019 with The Construction Academy. An ex offender, Stephen was released one month prior to starting his training with the CSF. After securing his CSCS green card and completing his training in Asbestos removal, Pasma and Abrasive Wheels training Stephen was offered a position of full time employment with Oldham subcontractor Reddishvale as an Asbestos Removal Operative.

Launched in October 2018 and delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the £22m CSF is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) with the aim of training more than 13,000 people to be ready for employment in construction by March 2020.

Steve Radley, Policy Director of the Construction Industry Training Board, said:

“With 168,000 skilled construction workers required to meet the expected demand by 2022, the work that organisations like Procure Plus and The Growth Company in the North West is doing is crucial. It is brilliant to see the positive effect that these learning hubs are having on the lives of so many people and local communities, and we are looking forward to seeing the hubs successfully place further trainees in full time employment.”

Kate Parker, Senior Regeneration Manager at Procure Plus, commented:

“The Construction Skills Fund is a milestone scheme for the sector and provides a significant investment in skills and training. We are really excited to be part of such a groundbreaking project and to offer local people from across the region so many opportunities. We’re so pleased at how well our hub is doing and the significant number of candidates who’ve trained with us and are now qualified to enter full time employment.”

Michelle Handley, Skills and Recruitment Manager at The Construction Academy, added:

“The CSF funding has provided much needed local training opportunities enabling local residents to gain employment and apprenticeships in an industry that is increasing across Manchester. The support that we can offer under the CSF is ensuring that our people are not only moving into work and sustaining, but progressing in work as well. This contribution is helping to reduce the growing skills gap in the industry and making a difference to local people’s lives.”

The Construction Skills Fund has been created as part of the Government’s National Retraining Scheme to support innovative ways of training new entrants and retaining adults in the construction sector. The learning hubs provide life-changing opportunities to start a career in construction, with particular focus on the long-term unemployed, career changers and unrepresented groups.

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