Thousands of people across the West Midlands will get access to on-site construction training for infrastructure and housing projects, thanks to a series of new training hubs.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has unlocked £2.3m from the Government’s Construction Skills Fund to help local people get jobs in the region’s booming construction industry.
Two hubs will initially be set up by spring 2019 – one at the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village in Perry Barr, to provide on-site training for housebuilders of the future; and another at the M6 smart motorway project between junctions 2 and 4.
The WMCA hopes 1,450 local people will be trained at the first two hubs – with more hubs planned for other large construction projects in the West Midlands in the next few years.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “These regional hubs will be great for the West Midlands.
“Our record economic growth is due in part to the huge number of construction projects underway, or coming up, in the region – construction currently contributes £4.5bn to our economy and we want to see that double over the next decade.
“To sustain this, we’ll need almost 50,000 more trained construction staff in the region by 2030. These regional hubs will help make sure local people get the chance to access top-quality training and on-site experience, with the ultimate aim of ensuring we meet the demand for trained construction workers from within the West Midlands.”
Cllr George Duggins, the WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “This is fantastic news for the region, which has seen rapid growth in the construction industry with record levels of infrastructure investment and large housing developments.
“We want local people to benefit from this growth – so these training hubs will provide people with the skills they need to find jobs at large, local construction projects.
“Currently, most construction training is classroom-based. These hubs will be based within construction sites, marking an innovative new approach to provide people with first-hand construction experience alongside their training.”
The WMCA worked closely with local authorities, employers and further education providers in the region to create its successful bid.
The £2.3m will be split in two - £1.28m for hubs linked to housing projects, which will train 800 local people, and £1.04m for infrastructure construction training for 650 people.
The WMCA says it hopes up to 45% of those accessing training at the hubs will be from groups currently under-represented in the construction industry, including women and ethnic minorities.
The hubs will advertise live job vacancies, which local people can apply for. The WMCA hopes to ensure at least 50% of those receiving training secure long-term employment.
The first housing training hub will be based at the new Athletes Village at Perry Barr, which will be home to 6,500 athletes during the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Village, on the former Birmingham City University campus, is close to the Alexander Stadium which will host track and field events.
Once the Games are over, the site will be converted to provide 1,400 new homes, including social and affordable housing.
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth, said: "We're creating huge opportunities in Birmingham and the wider region at the moment, but it’s clear that we will only turn growth into inclusive growth if we equip people with the practical skills needed to secure those jobs and opportunities.
“These regional hubs will directly link local people to developments on their doorstep, giving them an opportunity to really benefit from projects that are transforming the West Midlands.
“The Athletes Village at Perry Barr will eventually provide 1,400 new homes for the West Midlands, and I’m delighted this funding will ensure that local people have the opportunity to gain great jobs and new skills as a result of developments in their area.”
The Construction Skills Fund scheme is funded by the Department of Education (DfE), and will be delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “Whether building new homes or contributing to major infrastructure projects to keep our country connected, working in construction means helping to shape Britain in the months and years ahead.”
Sarah Beale, chief executive of CITB, said: “We have a massive need for homegrown talent, and these projects will bring thousands of new people into our sector, giving them the crucial onsite experience they need to start a career in construction.”
Caption: A computer-generated image of the Athletes Village in Perry Barr planned for the Commonwealth Games 2022. One of the first regional training hubs will be based on site to deliver construction training for local people.