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Pioneering grant fund programme aims to bridge the construction skills gap in Bloxwich

The official Heads of Terms Agreement for the Construction Skills Through Regeneration programme was signed on behalf of Walsall Council and Walsall College at an event on Friday 21 July 2023.

Walsall Council has developed the Construction Skills Through Regeneration programme in Bloxwich to build local capacity to deliver on Walsall’s housing targets. Walsall College will lead on the delivery of Apprenticeships training and skills development while the Council will manage grant funding to support local Social Landlords.

The latest Construction Market Outlook report suggests that 225,000 more construction workers will be needed in the UK by 2027 to meet demand levels for the upcoming pipeline.

£25million of funding is being invested to transform the town of Bloxwich in Walsall, and Walsall Council will work in partnership with Walsall College to upskill local people and help local housing developers meet demands.

Councillor Adrian Andrew, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration at Walsall Council, said:

“It’s important to ensure that regeneration projects provide opportunities for local people to develop skills and gain employment.

“Stakeholder interviews with local businesses identified that low skills are a barrier to employing more local people. We are tackling the skills gap to break down those barriers by working in partnership with training providers and local construction companies. The programme aims to upskill local people and engage with local businesses to maximise the opportunities for the borough.”

Jatinder Sharma CBE DL, Principal and Chief Executive of Walsall College, said:

“The college is ideally placed to use our industry and community links to help employers recruit, develop and retain a diverse talent pool of local people.

“The extension to our construction-based Green Lane campus already demonstrates our commitment to skills, sustainability and the jobs of the future.

“As a Construction Skills Through Regeneration programme delivery partner, we can extend our support for school leavers, jobseekers, work-based learners and apprentices, doing more to unlock the potential in the area through these building projects.”

Manjit Jhooty, Chair of the Town Deal Board, said:

“It is essential that the private sector and local employers support initiatives like this so we can make sure opportunities are maximised for local people. The Town Deal Board engages with businesses to unlock the potential for local companies to become part of the supply chain for these major investment projects and this programme will help them to do that.”

The fund is open to local housing associations and developers to support the remediation of derelict brownfield sites, and the environmental upgrading of existing dwellings.

To access the fund applicants will be asked to make commitments to providing local jobs for local people, the use of local supply chains and the delivery of construction skills and training for local people by developers. Outcomes will include improved quality of neighbourhood, reduced carbon emissions and costs, together with local people trained and employed.