Construction of new buildings – on time, and in a smooth, unencumbered way, if possible – plays a vital role in allowing property investors and property development companies to thrive.
That was why it was so shocking recently when Benenden Health, a not-for-profit healthcare provider, revealed that a shocking 40% of employees in the construction and engineering sector took time off work due to poor mental health in 2019, compared to 35% across all sectors. Workers were absent for between two and five days, on average.
The industry has also faced challenges in recent years with a shortage of domestic skilled workers, with many construction workers hailing from the EU. Once the Brexit transition period ends, and freedom of movement is halted, the UK construction sector could face a major problem, with a number of Brexit questions remaining unanswered.
More promisingly, the construction industry has been allowed to remain open during the second national lockdown, which should increase the speed at which new houses and schemes are built.
One of these new schemes, Edward Street Quarter in Brighton, is attempting to do its bit to plug the skills gap and bring on the next generation of construction workers by running a new construction training course.
As a result, eight trainees have taken their first step to a job in the construction sector. The course, in conjunction with McLaren Construction and Brighton & Hove City Council’s Economic Development Office and Youth Employability Service, aims to help local students who have been out of education, employment or training.
Those involved include rehabilitating ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed, with training led by Skills Training UK at Brighton’s Tower Point.
“The aim is to help young trainees in this group earn an accreditation that will enable them to get a foot on the career ladder,” Steve Eccles, project director at First Base, the developer for Edward Street Quarter, said.
“This will be in the form of a green card enabling them to work on construction sites. It is, we hope, the first step in their journey. We will continue to work with them over the lifetime of the development using funds that we have put aside to upskill them.”
Last Friday, a representative from First Base visited the course and Edward Street Quarter’s logistics contractor held a question and answer session on Zoom with the trainees.
The lessons covered Health and Safety Level 1 and will eventually lead to a Construction Skills Certificate Scheme green card.
The trainees will, at the end of the learning, sit a test in which they must correctly answer 45 out of 50 questions to obtain the qualification.
Edward Street Quarter – a development of Grade A office space, apartments, retail and recreational space on the site of the old Amex building – is part of the development’s commitment to support its local community, with some of the trainees potentially ending up working on site.
“It’s an exciting time for the trainees as they start to build their careers, and we are delighted to give them that opportunity. Already two of the cohort are working with our logistics partner and we’ll do all we can to help them find work when the course is completed,” Eccles added.
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