Local people will have the chance to learn valuable construction skills at the site of Birmingham’s tallest residential skyscraper.
A £100,000 training hub, funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) through the Construction Skills Fund, will offer local people free construction training and a guaranteed job interview after completing a 20-day course.
Led by construction company John Sisk & Son, the hub will be based on-site at Broad Street, Birmingham, where work is underway to build The Mercian, a landmark 42-storey tower with 481 apartments, developed and operated by Moda Living.
Pictured opening the new construction hub are (L-R) placement trainees Mahad Ali and Nathaniel Robinson, Sisk undergraduate engineer Bethany Brooks, company managing director North & Major Projects Guy Fowler, Cllr Sir Albert Bore (Ladywood), Sisk assistant quantity surveyor Alex Mills, company skills and employment lead Bandhana Karwal and WMCA construction skills project manager Shaun Hall
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The construction industry in the West Midlands will need 50,000 more trained staff by 2030, and so we need to make sure local people have the skills to fill these jobs.
“This is why we are establishing on-site training hubs in partnership with the industry across the region, so that more people benefit from hands-on experience to gain employment in the construction sector.
“The hubs are a great way to link local residents to job opportunities created by investment on their doorstep and give them first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in construction, together with a guaranteed interview for a job at the end of their course.
“I am delighted that John Sisk & Son have agreed to help train the next generation of construction workers and I look forward to working with other employers across the region to open further skills hubs.”
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: “These training hubs will enable local people to learn new skills which are directly put into practice on a live building site – so they gain work experience and site-ready accreditation.
“We want people in the West Midlands to benefit from investment in our region – and helping local residents get the skills that employers need for construction jobs is just one way we can ensure everyone benefits from new building projects such as these.”
The hubs will advertise local job opportunities and will initially focus on training unemployed people.
The £184m scheme at Broad Street, developed by Moda Living, has been designed exclusively for rent, offering hotel level service and state-of-the-art amenities including a 200m podium rooftop running track – the first in UK housing.
Guy Fowler, Managing Director North & Major Projects at John Sisk & Son, said: “We are very pleased to be offering opportunities for local people to gain essential construction skills on this landmark building project in Birmingham city centre. During construction, our site will create 26 new jobs, including 15 apprenticeships. There will also be 21 work placements.
“We will continue to work with local people and businesses after construction work has finished.
“Since Sisk was founded 160 years ago, we have been committed to attracting and developing people to be the best that they can be, and this programme is another great example of how we deliver on our values of care, integrity and excellence.”
Alex Mills, aged 21, from Solihull, is an assistant quantity surveyor at John Sisk & Son and is in his fourth year of a degree apprenticeship at Birmingham City University. When he graduates, he will be a fully chartered surveyor with a qualification from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, thanks to the training he is receiving from the company.
“Sisk has given me a brilliant opportunity to accelerate my career and construction knowledge in a mixed educational and work environment,” he said.
“I believe this gives me the best foundation to be a successful construction professional in today’s industry, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
Construction on the tower started in April this year, with completion expected in 2022.
The WMCA will work alongside partners at the Birmingham City Council Employment Access Team, John Sisk & Son, the National Careers Service, the Construction Industry Training Body (CITB), Jobcentre Plus and the Department of Work and Pensions, to help maximise employment and training opportunities.
Kalpana Patel, regional director, National Careers Service - West Midlands including Staffordshire, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for local residents to learn new skills and access the upcoming opportunities in construction. The National Careers Service provides impartial careers advice and guidance to help individuals make informed decisions so they can take advantage of the new opportunities in this sector.”
To fund the West Midlands hubs, the WMCA unlocked £2.3m from the Government's £22m Construction Skills Fund (CSF), which will support 26 training projects across the country, 24 funded by the Government and a further two funded by CITB. The 26 hubs aim to train more than 13,000 people to be ready for employment in construction by March 2020.
Lorraine Gregory, CITB partnership manager for the Midlands and North, said: “We are delighted to support the launch of this training hub in Birmingham, which offers a fantastic opportunity for those wanting to get into the construction industry. The scheme features one of 26 new CSF on-site training hubs which ensure that as well as learning valuable skills, trainees will be gaining hands-on experience that ensures they are site-ready for employment.
“Projects like this one are vital for bringing people into the industry. With 168,000 skilled construction workers required across the UK by 2022, the opportunities now available in Birmingham are a step towards building the site-ready workforce the construction industry needs.”
Three hubs have already opened in Perry Barr, Wolverhampton and Birmingham city centre, and further hubs are set to open later this year.
To sign up for construction training, contact the National Careers Service West Midlands on 0121 296 5550, or you can find out more information about the National Careers Service via https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/ or by calling 0800 100 900.