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Willmott Dixon ramps up national upskilling programme

Willmott Dixon has teamed up with two more London boroughs and three colleges as part of its national programme to upskill hundreds of people each year to provide them with the experience and opportunity to find work in construction. 

In West London, Willmott Dixon is working with Kensington & Chelsea Council to open its latest Building Lives Academy (BLA) on 17 January. The academy will deliver training and hands-on work experience over an 11-week programme for 16-to-24-year-old residents as part of the company’s project to build 57 new homes at Kensal Road and Hewer Street

It follows another BLA that has been set up with the London Borough of Hounslow to support its project to deliver Frank Tower Court, a housing complex that will create 102 new homes. This academy delivers a three-week programme to provide qualifications such as Health and Safety and Traffic Marshall certificates, a CSCS card and real-life work experience to help local people find jobs in construction.  

In South Croydon, Willmott Dixon has teamed up with the Orbital College Group to set up construction sector-based youth academies in the John Ruskin College and East Surrey College campuses. The academies will support young people’s employability skills by providing construction skills training at the college’s specialist workshops as well as support with CV writing, job hunting and interview practice. It follows a similar initiative at Merton College Campus, part of South Thames College Group. 

In the South West at Weston-super-Mare, the company is also working with the CITB and Weston College to support local adults entering the construction industry through the Constructing Lives Together programme, which will deliver two-week training courses that allow candidates to gain a CSCS card – a gateway into construction – as well as a Health and Safety in a Construction Environment Level 1 certification. 

Sarah Fraser, Head of the Willmott Dixon Foundation, which guides, monitors and collates Willmott Dixon’s social and community investment activities, said: “As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, upskilling in our local communities will be more important than ever. Supporting people to find long-term jobs will help give the construction industry the capacity to build the much-needed infrastructure that will generate wider growth in our economy.  

“It’s also part of our ethos to drive social mobility and leave a skills legacy in the communities where we work, and we are delighted with the huge interest our academies have generated among young people. Our ‘Now or Never’ 2030 sustainability strategy includes our Building Lives commitment to help more than 1,000 people facing significant barriers to work gain access to new career opportunities.”

Willmott Dixon has opened multiple Building Lives Academies across the country, including a Drylining Academy in HMP Elmley. These academies, which are opened in collaboration with Willmott Dixon’s supply chain and local training providers, resulted in 44% of 2019 and 2020 attendees finding work within three months – all were previously long-term unemployed. In 2020, Willmott Dixon adapted its Building Lives programmes so they could be delivered digitally and in-person, enabling people to gain vital skills, opening doors to long-term employment.