From education to employment

Vistry Group launches new skills academy in honour of former employee

National housebuilder Vistry Group has launched an innovative new skills academy in Hampshire and named it in memory of a valued colleague.

Vistry has worked in partnership with Fareham College to open the Zoë Clarke Skills Academy, based at the housebuilder’s site Whiteley Meadows, in Whiteley. Its aim is to give those aged 19 and above in long-term unemployment the opportunity to learn valuable industry skills, to have support with interviews and access to money management tuition. 

The project has been led by Vistry Southern Housebuilding and Countryside Partnerships, which is part of the Vistry Group.

Phil Farminer, regional managing director at Vistry Southern, said:

“Zoë was a Senior Quantity Surveyor within the Group. She was a true character and respected team player whose contribution to the business is sorely missed. 

“Zoë passed away in 2021 after a short battle with ocular melanoma, diagnosed following a routine eye test.  During her illness, Zoë told us she wanted to leave a legacy to raise awareness of both eye and skin cancers so that people can get an early diagnosis and have the chance to seek effective support and treatment as soon as possible. 

“Vistry Southern has been doing so at every opportunity since, and the academy is a continuation of this important work.  We know that by naming this academy after Zoë, we are not only honouring her name and legacy, but are also proudly providing access to valuable training opportunities within an exciting construction environment which could enable the learners to secure employment in the future, in her name. 

“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Fareham College. We know that their tutors go above and beyond to support each and every learner through the courses, and to achieve meaningful qualifications and valuable experience”.

With 11 courses running annually, each cohort at the academy will accommodate 10 learners, working towards a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. Initially covering bricklaying, Vistry Group and Fareham College are also working with their sub-contractors to identify specific skills shortages which can be addressed in the near future through the academy provision, as well as employment opportunities.

Scott Dixon, who has attended the new Skills Academy at Fareham College’s Lee-on-Solent site, said:

“This course changed my life. The teachers have done nothing but support me to ensure I receive the qualifications I now have.

“Michael Hadenham, my coach, provided me with the skills and knowledge I needed to pass my courses with distinctions. I am now standing here, honoured to be at the launch of the Zoë Clarke Skills Academy. This course worked for me, and I believe it can work for anybody.”

Vistry Southern will be providing packs discussing the Skills Academy, into new homeowner bundles, to increase awareness.

The formal opening of the Zoë Clarke Skills Academy took place on Tuesday (26 September). It was attended by colleagues, local authority representatives and valued stakeholder partners.

Vistry Group incorporates Linden Homes, Bovis Homes, Countryside Homes and Countryside Partnerships.

New homes are being built under the Linden Homes, Bovis Homes and Countryside Homes brands at Whiteley Meadows.  For more information, visit,, or

Related Articles