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Birmingham City Council and local college unite to tackle regional construction skills shortage and boost employment

Published: Monday, 11th March 2024

The new alliance will unite the construction sector to help deliver the workforce and skills pipeline to match demand

A ground-breaking new partnership will help tackle the construction skills shortage to support delivery of 113 current and planned major developments in Birmingham – including Phase Three of Paradise, HS2’s Birmingham Curzon Street, and Smithfield.

The Birmingham and Solihull Construction Skills Alliance, launched on Friday (8 March), is jointly led by South and City College Birmingham (SCCB) and Birmingham City Council and will unite the construction sector to help deliver the workforce and skills pipeline to match demand. 

In a first, the Alliance will bring the Council, SCCB, developers and main construction contractors, skills and recruitment partners and industry bodies together under one virtual roof to look at the roles and training needed – now and in the future. 

SCCB, which has the largest construction training facility in Europe, will design new apprenticeships and training that equip regional recruits with the skills they need to gain long-term employment.

The Alliance will also offer SMEs support to employ apprentices and make use of levy funding available.

Speaking following the launch, Councillor Sharon Thompson, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “This partnership is supporting the Council and the city’s aim to help deliver a diverse range of skills to help our young people access long-term employment in the city. The construction pipeline in Birmingham is ambitious with HS2, the redevelopment of Smithfield and more, changing the landscape of the city, and we want our young professionals to be part of this future. 
 
“This is a vital step for Birmingham and the wider region. As a council, working closely with our partners, we are committed to tackling the challenges we face in the construction sector by aligning how we work to avoid duplication and maximise skills and training for our young population. Allowing the city, and population, to develop to its full potential.”

Current figures* show the UK requires 12,000 new employees a year to 2025 and 30,000 annually until 2030 to meet net zero and retrofit homes. In the West Midlands alone, an extra 25,350 construction workers will be needed by 2027.

To help meet demand, the Council will bring its knowledge of major current and future planning applications, with employers sharing workforce and skills requirements for projects along with that of their supply chains. This will help SCCB to shape future apprenticeships to supply the right skills and talent needed.

SCCB executive director Rebecca Waterfield said: “The Alliance is quite unique in the way it will help to map workforce demands so far in advance between so many stakeholders. We believe this collaboration will make a big difference in supporting the construction sector in meeting its recruitment and skills requirements by equipping people across the region to enter and progress in long-term employment.

“At South and City we are looking to create bespoke apprenticeships and courses with really practical, hands on learning in construction specialisms, while also tackling future demand around net zero, energy efficiency and retrofit, plus low carbon technologies such as heat pumps and Solar PV.”

During the event, a new Women and Girls into Construction Working Group (WGCWG), led by UK skills and professional labour supplier for construction Danny Sullivan Group, was also launched.

Heading up the WGCWG, Suki Dhillon-Basra, social value, skills and employment advisor at Danny Sullivan Group, said: “At the moment we are failing to break down the stereotypes that will help us see more girls start a career in construction, and this is what makes the Women and Girls into Construction Group so important. This isn’t just about meeting current demands in the sector – it’s about shaping the future workforce and creating opportunities for the next generation.”

Partners in the Alliance include development partners MEPC, Paradise, Berkeley St Joseph, and Galliard Homes, HS2 main contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), and main contractors Skanska, Tilbury Douglas, Galliford Try and John Sisk and Son. Industry bodies and recruitment and skills partners signed up to the partnership are Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Jobcentre Plus, National Careers Service, Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Adult Education Partners, Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and Talentview. 

Housebuilder and property developer Berkeley Group St George and St Joseph’s senior social value manager Deepak Chavda said: “It’s good to be a part of the Alliance from the ground up and meet other employers, colleges and recruitment providers to pool challenges and fresh ideas. By bringing people together we can find new ways to attract new people into the sector in Birmingham and the wider region, while supporting our existing workers on site through upskilling and by finding ways to evolve their roles so they stay interesting and innovative.”

For more information on the Construction Skills Alliance, visit www.sccb.ac.uk/employers

*Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) figures.

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