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Building for the future: new campaign to fill construction roles in South London

The South London Partnership (SLP) is launching a campaign to find apprentices and tutors to help boost the construction trade across South London, as UK labour vacancies reached a record 48,000 in 2021. 

Supported by the Mayor of London, the SLP has created the initiative after research showed the construction industry has a shortage of apprentices and tutors. The campaign includes two virtual information events, which are taking place later this month. 

Last month the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) released its annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report which shows that Greater London needs 22,800 extra workers by 2027 – that means an annual recruitment boost of 4,560. 

The SLP is a sub-regional collaboration of five London boroughs: Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton. The SLP will work alongside Wandsworth Council, South London businesses and colleges to deliver this campaign. 

Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council and Chair of the South London Partnership said:  

“South London is a great place to live, but like other parts of London, provision of good quality, affordable and sustainable homes is a priority. Whether this is building new homes or retrofitting existing housing stock, we are predicting an even greater demand on the construction workforce. 

“There is a wide range of apprenticeships on offer locally, which give young people a pathway to good quality careers in the industry. And for those further on in their career, tutoring provides a great opportunity to take those years of knowledge and experience and put their skills to use in a different way and help nurture the next generation of the workforce.” 

A survey of 1,000 people conducted by UK Construction Week (2022) noted several barriers to young people pursuing a career in the industry. This included it being seen as a ‘dirty job’ (23 per cent), a lack of careers advice (19 per cent), and the sector being seen as male-dominated (15 per cent). 

Shakir Kikomeko, 21-years-old, is an apprentice site manager working on one of South London’s biggest projects while studying one day a week at college.  

“Most of my friends have gone to university, but I felt it wasn’t for me as I was keen to earn money and get started in a career. Sometimes you can feel unsure about asking questions, but you soon learn that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. When doing an apprenticeship you are surrounded by people that have been in the construction business for 20 or 30 years and there isn’t anything they don’t know.” 

A recent study by The Financial Times on behalf of the Association of Colleges found that 85 per cent of colleges across the UK were understaffed for construction courses, with the lack of tutors contributing to a sector-wide shortage of construction workers. 

Kevin Williams, 54, worked as a self-employed plumber for 20 years before becoming a lecturer and assessor at South Thames College. Kevin, who himself was an apprentice, said:  

“It’s seeing the students grow and learn that really drives me. You can literally see the passion and determination in their faces to learn and succeed.” 

The virtual events include one for anyone wanting information on becoming a tutor on March 27 at 5pm https://www.eventbrite.com/e/become-a-tutor-in-construction-find-out-more-tickets-576344861997 and one for apprentices on March 30 at 4.30pm https://www.eventbrite.com/e/apprenticeships-in-construction-find-out-more-tickets-576195144187 

For more information email [email protected] or visit http://southlondonpartnership.co.uk/skills/mayors-construction-academy-hub/ 

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