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National Skills Academy for Construction launches ‘employer-led’ approach to construction training.

New Academy goes mobile and on-site to put construction employers right at the heart of training…

Alan Johnson MP and Phil Hope MP with trainees.A new, site-based approach to construction training started on the 27th November 2006, with the launch of the National Skills Academy for Construction at Bishopsgate, in the City of London, attended by Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Alan Johnson and Skills Minister, Phil Hope.

Leaving the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ model of an educational establishment behind, the launch of National Skills Academy for Construction at Bishopsgate is the start of an innovative ‘employer-led’ approach to construction training. Over the next five years more than 30 National Skills Academy for Construction projects, supported by a fleet of mobile training centres, will be established on-site at major construction projects throughout the UK.

Developed with support from ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, together with leading industry employers and education and training providers, the Construction Academy is part of the National Skills Academy programme, a Department for Education and Skills initiative designed to drive up the standard of industry training and to improve productivity and tackle skills shortages across the UK. The Academy aims to create at least 10,000 local jobs via apprenticeships, and to help 100,000 experienced workers gain NVQ Levels 2 or 3.

With high profile projects such as an Olympic stadium and infrastructure to deliver, construction employers are looking for a simple and streamlined approach to skills training. The Academy approach is key to meeting the unprecedented demand facing the UK construction industry. Speaking at the launch, Alan Johnson Secretary of State for Education and Skills says:

"The launch of the Construction Skills Academy is vital in the run up to the 2012 Olympics when demand for skilled workers in this sector is set to soar.

“Government, employers and educators must ensure they are ready to deliver Lord Leitch’s recommendations. The National Skills Academy Programme will play a key role in this, putting employers in the driving seat when it comes to deciding where the skills gaps are in their sector and how best to close them.

"With business and Government in partnership we can raise skills levels across the economy, sector by sector, ensuring we can compete effectively in a rapidly changing globalised economy."

As the National Skills Academy for Construction programme expands, regional partnerships will be established in all nine English regions, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland across a range of construction projects such as major regeneration and development projects, refurbishment and maintenance projects, civil engineering and housebuilding.

Sir Michael Latham, Chairman, ConstructionSkills says: “With the launch of the National Skills Academy for Construction the industry is getting the training and support that it needs, where it needs it. The new mobile network will enable training on-site to cover the entire supply chain for each project. We see it as a ‘win-win’ situation, not only is it an opportunity to skill up local people for the construction industry it is also a way of developing sustainable communities.”

The Bishopsgate site is a £292m development comprising modern office space and a public shopping area, and is the first construction site to benefit from a Skills Academy. The Bishopsgate Academy has the key involvement of Bovis Lend Lease, British Land, the Learning Skills Council (LSC), the London Development Agency (LDA), Jobcentre Plus and ConstructionSkills. The City of London is also heavily involved. As many as 1,000 people will gain experience of the industry through the Bishopsgate Academy over the next two years.

Val Lowman, UK Community Development Manager for Bovis Lend Lease, said: "By its very nature construction tends to be a hugely fragmented industry. The only place that everyone comes together is on a live construction site, so the fact that training will be focused on-site is very significant. Employer-led training is the only way to get it right and I believe that the National Skills Academy network truly recognises this."

Richard Elliott, Head of Construction for British Land, said: “As owners and developers of 201 Bishopsgate and The Broadgate Tower, British Land is delighted that the National Skills Academy for Construction is launching on this site. Having a skilled workforce is vital to the efficient and safe construction of any development, so British Land is fully supportive of the ongoing success of this initiative.”

Manny Lewis, Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, said: "Construction is the biggest industry in the UK and it is growing rapidly. London and the South East is set to see substantial development in the coming years and it's predicted that we're going to need an average of 9,500 recruits each year until the end of the decade. The Academy approach reflects our own position that project based training is the most effective means of training for the industry and will certainly enhance the construction training offer in London."

Margaret Hodge, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions said: "Two issues raised with me time and again as Minister for Construction are employers telling me they can't get enough skilled employees, and families telling me young people can't get apprenticeships and training on local projects. The Skills Academy will help answer both issues with on-the-job on-site training, and it will help to ensure that building projects leave a legacy of skills for the future.”

For further information about the National Skills Academy for Construction go to www.constructionskills.nsacademy.co.uk

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