We wanted to maximise the opportunities presented through the regeneration project to help local people enhance and learn new skills, and support them into paid work.
Through the construction contract, Wates Living Space signed up to take on our challenging targets of providing apprenticeships and other skills-based activities. But it wasn’t all about ticking off the numbers of apprentices offered or college visits made. As Lawrence Baxter, Wates Living Space’s project manager, said: “We go out of our way to not only welcome all our students, apprentices and trainees, but also to support them and convey our own enthusiasm for working on a high-quality construction project.”
Wates Living Space ran its accredited Building Futures course over two weeks for long-term unemployed people, allowing them to find out more about a career in construction, gain some experience, and prepare for a CSCS test, which when passed qualifies participants to work on construction sites in the future. Of the 17 people who took part, seven found employment within the next eight months. Wates Living Space hopes to match this success in the upcoming Building Futures courses to be held during phase 2 of construction.
We also know that for ex-offenders finding paid employment, as well as an understanding employer, can be incredibly hard. But it is also one of the main factors in helping them to turn their lives around. We were therefore delighted to collaborate with Changing Paths to support ex-offenders back into the workplace.
Over 40 people have found apprenticeship opportunities at Erith Park, and 21 students have taken up work experience placements. Study visits have also been organised for 185 students in construction or related subjects, and thirteen others in long-term unemployment have received support to re-enter employment.