Pledge to transform construction skills shortages

Public and private sector organisations on the Yorkshire coast have joined together to launch a pledge to transform the supply of much needed, highly skilled local labour to meet the ever growing demands of the area’s construction and housing industries.

The Construction and Housing Employment and Skills Pledge (CHESP) was launched on Wednesday 13 September at Scarborough Construction Skills Village with the aim of working to overcome the major skills shortages and gaps in skills provision within the construction industry that regularly hits the headlines on a local, regional and national level. The launch event attracted interest from the Cabinet Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) with representatives from both offices attending to find out about the proactive approach being taken in the area.

Those backing the pledge want to work together to ensure a skilled local workforce is available to build the anticipated 9000 new homes that will be required in the Borough of Scarborough by 2032 and help address some of the issues identified in the recent Government Housing White Paper: ‘Fixing our broken housing market’.

Work has already started with the establishment of the Construction Skills Village by Northern Regeneration CIC in collaboration with industry and education partners, which gives people the opportunity to learn and develop the specific skills required for the construction and housing industries by working on a real life construction site under the guidance of expert mentors. In its relatively short existence, the initiative has already produced some real success stories. Since going live in August 2015, more than 1,000 days of work experience have been delivered from which 29 jobs have been created, including nine apprenticeships.

CHESP aims to take the work of the Construction Skills Village to another level by drawing experience from and by working in partnership with construction developers, employers, housing associations and small businesses to develop a sustainable construction employment and skills system that ensures young people leaving education are ready to succeed in the construction industry and that adults have access to the skills and support they need from entering the labour market through to developing a highly skilled workforce, which is flexible, resilient and adaptable.
Partners that have signed up to CHESP want the Construction Skills Village to become a ‘one stop shop’ for construction and housing employers, learners, parents, adults and referral agents wishing to understand how to access the industry and recruit locally.

They have pledged to work together to:

Ensure CHESP is embedded into all future planning applications

Work closely with employers of all sizes and gain a better understanding of the skills required today and in the future

Develop a local workforce with recognised skills which will enable them to build the homes needed to the required timescales

Help address a major construction skills shortage across the Borough of Scarborough by providing real apprenticeships and employment opportunities for local people on every major construction and housing development

Raise the profile of the industry in schools and with key agencies and parents to help identify and support individuals of all ages and abilities to consider construction as a career choice

To deliver demand led training locally with the purpose of upskilling and training individuals to support business and industry needs

Encourage construction developers who do not directly recruit local labour to commit to increase opportunities for local supply chains and individuals on every scheme

Partners already committed to the pledge are Northern Regeneration CIC, National Federation of Builders (NFB), York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, Scarborough Borough Council, Kebbell Homes, Keepmoat Homes, Willmott Dixon, Sanctuary Group, Yorkshire Coast Homes, Sirius Minerals, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and YH Training Services. They are now seeking more organisations to get behind them and sign up to CHESP.

Graham Ratcliffe, Managing Director of Northern Regeneration CIC, said:
“Never has it been timelier for construction industry colleagues, education and housing partners to come together and offer much needed opportunities locally. If we are to make a real difference in overcoming the skills gap problems, we need industry partners of all sizes to get involved in both the CHESP and the Construction Skills Village by providing industry talks, site visits, work experience opportunities, apprenticeships and employment opportunities.”

The National Federation of Builders (NFB), the longest running trade association within the construction industry, fully endorses the Construction and Housing Employment and Skills Pledge for Scarborough. David Todd, NFB North East Area Manager said:
“There is a significant skills shortage throughout the north east region with the majority of NFB members struggling to attract experienced staff. It is very positive that the Construction Skills Village is attempting to rectify this serious problem by providing key on-site skills and support to young people, which will substantially help the future of the industry.”

Cllr Derek Bastiman, Leader of Scarborough Borough Council said:
“We recognise the increasing importance of the construction industry to the economic development of our borough and the wider region. We desperately need to increase the capacity for construction training and employment support, to help local people get good, well paid jobs. The Construction Skills Village and CHESP pledge are well placed to contribute to increasing capacity with an offer that employers want and need, complementing other provision locally and giving local solutions for businesses.”

Mike Mulligan, Regional Director of Kebbell Homes, one of the most respected and progressive new homes developers in the UK, which is currently building the second phase of sophisticated, high specification family homes at Cornelian Fields, part of the Middle Deepdale development area in Scarborough where the Construction Skills Village is located, said:
“If we are to develop and grow local labour into qualified and valuable trades people that can support and help us deliver the homes required, we need to deliver real life practical hands on skills and qualifications, which match industry needs. The work of the Construction Skills Village and the aims of CHESP are vital to achieving this and we are delighted to be part of this exciting, hands-on project.”
Kebbell was one of the original facilitators of the Construction Skills Village, providing the land for its base at its Scarborough development, as well as facilitating numerous work experience placements and apprenticeships.

Richard Coy of Keepmoat Homes, a top UK housing company with expertise in new build homes and community regeneration, which is currently building the second phase of Capella at Westway, also part of the Middle Deepdale development area, said:
“We support the Construction Skills Village because by providing safe, onsite experience of a real working site, it has already proven its worth in addressing the skills gap within the new construction worker cohort. With further funding and support, delivered through CHESP, the village will undoubtedly contribute to the skills shortage across the whole borough and wider region in the years to come.”

Richard Askew of the East Coast Federation of Small Businesses said:
“We’re supporting the pledge because it is key that our members, wherever possible, are involved in major projects carried out along the Yorkshire coast. This isn’t just limited to pitching for work and ensuring that investment stays within the area, but about ensuring that students in this area are given every opportunity to realise their potential regardless of what route they take to get there. We believe that the Construction Skills Village and its way of working will be key to students in this area and provide opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Colleen Eccles, Head of Development – Relationship Management for Sanctuary, said:
“We are happy to sign this pledge to work in partnership with the Construction Skills Village on all our development projects in Scarborough. The Construction Skills Village has developed an extremely successful solution to address the construction skills shortage through combining college studies with site based work experience.”

Owen Ingram, interim Chief Executive of Yorkshire Coast Homes said:
“We fully support CHESP as we are acutely aware of the need to build additional affordable housing within the Borough. We also acknowledge the issues faced by the construction industry in relation to recruitment and retention and the resulting need to train and develop local talent. We feel that this can be most effectively achieved by providing classroom and site based training frameworks that robustly prepare students for work within the sector. In supporting this collaborative strategy, we hope that local employers’ recruitment needs will be met and that we can contribute to a reduction in the construction sector skills gap.”
Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the work of the Construction Skills Village or wants to get involved with CHESP should contact Graham at Northern Regeneration CIC by emailing