£600k boost for off-site construction skills

Posted on 29 Apr 2014 by The Manufacturer

Businesses in the off-site construction industry are invited to bid for up to £600,000 for skills R&D as part of a government backed commission aiming to address the industry’s skills shortage.

After research showing the sector’s growth may be hampered by a lack of skills, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has launched its “UK Futures Programme.”

The initiative will see UKCES co-invest up to £600,000 with employers in pilot programmes to help develop new ways of getting the skills the sector needs for growth.

Funding will be used for testing ways of improving training and qualifications and how businesses can work together to boost growth in offsite construction.

Bill McGinnis CBE, a UKCES commissioner and chairman of McAvoy Group (offsite solutions) said the need for the offsite sector to exploit new technologies and links with manufacturing is urgent.

“The offsite sector urgently needs to exploit new technologies and the links with manufacturing if it is to meet the demands being put on it – particularly the low-carbon agenda and the pressure to build more low-cost housing,” he said.

“We hope that by making this money available, businesses and training providers can be encouraged to collaborate to design and develop high-quality training and qualifications which will be recognised and adopted right across the sector.”

Mr McGinnis added: “There is no magic bullet to the skills needs of offsite construction, but we want to find out what works by encouraging employers to experiment with bold solutions, taking risks and innovating.”

Recent research conducted by UKCES shows that although careers within offsite construction are relatively popular, few applicants have the skills required.

It found that although businesses run their own training programmes, these are often short-term, and specific only to the needs of that business at that time, resulting in less flexible and collaborative workforces.