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Construction Skills Fund hubs help 20,000 become site-ready

The Fund has brought more skilled people into the construction industry when it needed them most.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is heralding its Construction Skills Fund (CSF) initiative a resounding success after 20,000 people became site-ready after training at its hubs; 6,000 of those from the second phase of the scheme alone. 54% of those who completed training were from groups typically under-represented in construction.

The project, delivered on behalf of the Department for Education, also saw just under half (2,934) of those trained in the latest phase find sustainable employment in the industry.

The second phase ran between March 2020 and September 2021, where training took place at 14 CSF hubs across England. They were based within construction sites, so that entrants could become employment and site-ready as quickly as possible.

CITB’s Strategy and Policy Director, Steve Radley said: “The numbers reflect a fantastic achievement. We also exceeded our target in encouraging people who had not previously considered construction to make a career change. We were looking at 15% coming in from outside the industry to learn site skills instead this was 46%. The figures are boosted by many people being made redundant throughout the various lockdowns and looking for a new job.

“Despite what the pandemic threw at the hubs, they’ve managed to get more skilled people into the construction industry when it needed them most.”

Thanks to the CSF, Natalie Visser, 33, went from being a dissatisfied care worker, who struggled to get out of bed in the morning, to becoming a machine operator thriving in the great outdoors.

Reflecting on her career change, mum-of-three Natalie, from Petersfield, near Portsmouth, says: “The CSF course changed everything. I used to lie in bed not wanting to get up. That’s all gone now. I come in to work happy and go home happy. It has been life changing. I’ve found my feet in my new career and I’m so grateful to my housing association (Abri) and CSF for this.”

As DFE’s project finishes, CITB has established its own network of 13 Onsite Experience hubs in England and Wales, with more hubs planned in Scotland later this year. Building on the knowledge gained from the demand for the CSF hubs, the Onsite Experience hubs offer hands-on site experience and employment-related certifications needed by local employers.

13 hubs have been approved for £9.5m of CITB funding to give over 6,800 people the opportunity to become employment and site-ready and enable at least 3,300 of these to secure sustained employment within the next three years. This will contribute towards CITB’s target of equipping 16,000 people with hands-on site experience, enabling at least 4,800 to secure sustained employment in construction by 2025.

Rohan Cheriyan, CITB Commissioner for this programme added: “Our Onsite Experience hubs are providing a one-stop recruitment solution for construction employers. By linking together employers, training providers, local authorities, LEPs, community agencies and other partners, hubs enable the development of employment and site-ready people from local communities.

“These well-suited candidates are then linked to employers’ vacancies, and because they have gained initial site experience and have the necessary introductory training and health & safety credentials, they are ready to hit the ground running and are proving a real success with the employers who recruit them.”

Between 2021 and 2025 CITB aims to increase Great Britain’s construction talent pool through these Onsite Experience hubs, creating a skills pipeline to meet the needs of construction employers and enabling career opportunities for people from local communities.

CITB encourages anyone considering a construction career to find out more about the Onsite Experience hubs across England and Wales. Scotland will join the scheme during 2022.