Unemployed Wolverhampton residents are benefiting from a new £100,000 sub-regional construction training hub in the city.
The hub is based at WV Living’s ‘The Marches’ housing development on the site of the former Wednesfield High School and is being run by Wolves at Work employment programme in partnership with contractors Willmott Dixon and City of Wolverhampton College.
The funding comes from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) after it unlocked £2.3m from the Government’s Construction Skills Fund, to be delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) for the creation of a series of regional training hubs.
L-R Trainees Blake Davis and Connor Bryant, Cllr Harman Banger from City of Wolverhampton Council, Jacqui Bishton from the WMCA, Lorraine Gregory from CITB, James Donnelley from Willmott Dixon, Vic O’Brien from WV Living, Hilary Clews from DWP, Lorna Prosser from City of Wolverhampton College, and trainee on placement Ashley Cummings
More than 250 homes are being developed on the Marches site, and the first trainees are getting hands-on construction experience as part of their course at Wolverhampton College.
So far seven of the first 20 trainees to have completed a four-week course via the hub have found temporary or full-time employment, with regular support remaining in place from Wolves at Work to help find jobs for the others.
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 the WMCA is funding 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.”
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: “These hubs will help fill a crucial gap by allowing people to learn new skills which are directly put into practice on a live building site – so they gain skills, 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.”
Councillor Harman Banger, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “There are billions of pounds of investment on site or in the pipeline in the City of Wolverhampton and it is important residents benefit from this.
“This training hub is providing unemployed people in our city a clear route into the booming construction industry, delivering long-lasting benefits to the local community beyond the build phase.
“It will help boost local business and skills, adding to the pace of regeneration in the city while at the same time delivering WV Living homes people will love.”
Simon Liversage, director at Willmott Dixon, said: “Although it is still in its infancy, this training hub is already changing lives by providing the expertise and knowledge for people to develop their careers. One trainee secured paid employment as a labourer with us on a local primary school construction site, and another is working with us onsite at The Marches now.
“At Willmott Dixon, we believe we have a purpose beyond profit and that includes leaving a lasting positive legacy in the areas where we work. I believe that, through the Construction Skills Training Hub in Wolverhampton, we are doing just that.”
It is hoped a significant proportion of those accessing training at the regional 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, with the aim that at least 50 per cent of those receiving training secure long-term employment.
The Wolves at Work employment programme, run by City of Wolverhampton Council and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has already helped more than 4,600 people into work since being established in early 2017. The WMCA worked in partnership with Wolves and Work and CITB to fund the Wolverhampton hub.
Lorraine Gregory, CITB Partnership Manager for the Midlands and North, said: “We are delighted to support the training hub in Wolverhampton, which offers a fantastic opportunity for those wanting to get into the construction industry. Projects like this one are vital for bringing people into the industry, ensuring that as well as learning valuable skills, trainees will be gaining hands-on experience that ensures they are site-ready and able to move into employment.”
Vic O’Brien, WV Living Chief Operating Officer, added: “We are delighted that WV Living’s development site, The Marches has been selected as the base for the first construction hub in the city. This is a great opportunity for local people to work on a live site, giving students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a real-world environment while building new homes and transforming neighbourhoods for the residents of Wolverhampton.”
Anyone interested in opportunities at the Marches training hub should email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.