Fast-tracking future housebuilders in London

A new pilot scheme is set to help tackle the housebuilding skills gap in London by fast-tracking qualified construction college leavers into their specialist job area and getting them prepared for the world of work. In doing so, it is said that it will potentially reduce the risk of them falling away from the sector. Participants have reportedly now all completed their training and are being matched with employers.

The CITB funded “boot camp” pilot has been developed by the Home Builders Federation’s (HBF) Home Building Skills Partnership, that is working in tandem with five further education providers across the country. In London, this includes Barking & Dagenham College, supported by the Finishing and Interiors Sector (FIS) and Saint-Gobain, which is matching seven out of the nationwide total of 33 college leavers taking part in the pilot with potential employers.

Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland has been involved in sourcing London college leavers for the course through its college partnerships. The initial pilot scheme is focusing on carpentry and joinery, dry lining and bricklaying, which are reportedly among the most challenging job areas to recruit to, with the potential to expand across the country into other job areas.

The boot camp runs from two to six weeks as an on-site training course to test participant competency, enhance their new-found skills and improve speed to support their future employment with housebuilding firms. The participants are matched with potential housebuilders and their sub-contractors with a view to starting on site as paid employees, subject to assessment at the end of the training. They will also receive CITB funding to achieve their NVQ for their CSCS blue skilled card.

Jenny Herdman, director of the Home Building Skills Partnership, said: “Colleges play a key role in getting people trained in specialist trades, but we know that it’s not always enough to secure them employment. Nationally, the overall retention rate of construction college leavers moving into their specialist trades is a major challenge and we need them in housebuilding.

“As an industry, we need to get better at transitioning college leavers from construction courses into employment. This fast-track programme aims to get more site-ready people entering the housebuilding industry and so help increase industry capacity. Ultimately, we want to see an established pathway for new entrants from full time courses to the housebuilding sector.

“The response from industry has been extremely encouraging, and we look forward to supporting the young housebuilders of the future every step of the way into their new career. We would urge even more housebuilding companies to get involved and support this pioneering initiative.”

Shenaaz Chenia, director of training for Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland, said: “We’re thrilled to have facilitated the London boot camp of this innovative scheme. As a business, we are acutely aware of the emerging skills gap in the construction sector and we are determined to do our bit to encourage the next generation of engaged and skilled workers. This scheme is a fantastic model which we hope will go from strength to strength.”