The West Midlands is set to benefit from a new scheme to assist residents looking for employment or change of career and fill a skills shortage in local construction.
BuildBack 2021 will see people from the region take on training at Sandwell College and work experience with local construction companies to enable them to begin apprenticeships and jobs.
The initiative has been set up by FIS, a not-for-profit body representing the finishes and interiors sector, with funding from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
Courses in dry lining will start from June at the college, initially involving up to 28 places, with a view to progressing to an apprenticeship and ongoing NVQ professional development funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
CITB-funded research for the WMCA showed that in the West Midlands the construction workers in highest demand are in the interior fit-out and wood trades, with more than 15,000 needed across the Black Country, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas.
The West Midlands region is also forecast to have the highest construction growth rate of anywhere in the country in the coming years, at 4.8%.
BuildBack 2021 is aimed at recruiting from local people who are out of work, or looking for a change of career, or underrepresented groups in construction such as women or those from diverse backgrounds.
Lorraine Gregory, CITB Senior Customer Engagement Manager for the Midlands, said: “We know there’s a skills shortage in the West Midlands for interior fit-out, and with the construction sector playing such a key role in the recovery BuildBack 2021 will help people enter a varied and exciting new career path.”
Catherine Bullough, FIS Skills and Training Coordinator, said: “There’s real demand for finishes and interiors professionals in the West Midlands, and a strong pipeline of work including the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year makes this an exciting time to train up in a new trade.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Retraining and upskilling hold the key to getting people back into work following the impact of the Covid pandemic, and that is why they are a cornerstone of my ambitious but practical plan to create 100,000 jobs in just two years.
“By controlling the region’s training agenda, we can ensure local people are getting access to the skills they need to match employers’ needs. We know construction for example is going to continue to be a huge employer in the coming years, creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the West Midlands. So through schemes like BuildBack 2021 we can use our adult education budget to get people trained in the construction techniques that we know will get them into work.”
Further partners include and the Department for Work and Pensions. BuildBack 2021 in the West Midlands is part of a national scheme by FIS to attract hundreds more people into the trade.