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£22m construction skills fund to help narrow industry’s skills shortage

The government has attempted to address the construction industry skills shortage with a £22m cash injection which will bring training to construction sites and therefore allowing learners to apply their knowledge in a real-world environment.

The multi-million-pound Construction Skills Fund has been announced by skills minister Anne Milton with 158,000 new construction jobs expected to be created in the UK over the next five years after first being unveiled by the chancellor Philip Hammond in his Spring Statement.

Money will go towards 20 on-site hubs to train more people to help deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. The 18-month scheme is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and will be administered by the Construct.on Industry Training Board.

Commenting on the announcement, Milton said: “For our economy to thrive we need everyone, regardless of their age or background, to be able to get the training and the skills they need to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. The government has committed to building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s and we want to make sure that we are investing in the UK skills base to deliver this. A career in construction offers the chance for many people to establish and grow their own business. On-site training will be hugely beneficial for employers and trainees, as it will help bridge the gap between training and working in the industry, meaning trainees are site-ready sooner.”

Specialist training provider Construction Skills Villages has been pioneering the on-site model working with contractors and developers.

Managing director Graham Ratcliffe said: “It is great seeing funds being made available to support on-site training through hubs similar to the Construction Skills Villages in Scarborough and Barnsley. We hope to secure funds to expand our unique and successful model in turn helping support the construction industry overcome a skills gap.”

Funds provided by the DfE will also be provided for work experience placements for people working to join the industry, entry pathways for those currently unemployed and pathways for career switchers.

The CITB is now calling on employers, housing associations and other interested bodies such as LEPs and local authorities to submit expressions of interest. These can be from both existing and prospective on-site learning hubs.

Steve Radley, policy director at CITB, said: “Having training on or near to major projects will reveal what an exciting sector this can be, while also putting new talent in the shop window. We want all interested organisations to submit Expressions of Interest that are innovative, collaborative and with training at their heart. We will support applicants through the process and provide expert guidance to apply to the fund.”

The successful bids will be awarded in the autumn and training organisations can apply here.

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