As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2024, West London College’s breakfast-time Business Networking meeting, held yesterday at Southall Community College, focused on finding effective solutions to skills shortages. Over 35 employers and organisations working across the construction and green industries attended. A series of excellent presentations highlighted paths forward for our region, especially in terms of our apprentice recruitment and employing more women in the sector.
Keynote speakers, Rosaline Kunrunmi and John Wells from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) discussed the many benefits to business owners of registering with CITB. Delegates were delighted to discover that they could get valuable help and support by taking on an apprentice all the way through from recruitment to completion.
Rosaline explained: “Currently, CITB offers a grant of £2500 to employers while their construction apprentice attends and £3500 on achievement.”
John described that there are CITB grants for training too for approved courses ranging from 3 hours to 29 days for employers to upskill staff.
Guest speaker Jacqui Wordsworth, Women Into Construction’s (WiC) Business Development Director spoke engagingly about the skills shortage in the industry and how many women can be supported to fill the gap. WiC has worked on high-level infrastructure projects such as HS2, Crossrail, and Sizewell C supporting women in to employment. According to Construction News, women now make up a higher proportion of the construction workforce than at any time since official records began. In 2023 around 344,000 (14.7% of those working in the industry) women were recorded as working in Construction compared to just 242,000 in 1997.
Jacqui said: “WiC works with about 500 women a year, 300 in-depth on training programmes, and of those we help around 100 to find jobs in the construction industry.”
A wide variety of organisations attended like Danielle Neal from Building Heroes a charity seeking to retrain veterans in construction and green skills; Offgrid Energy Project’s Mani Dhanda who is seeking to involve WLC electrical installations students in installing solar panels, and David Cape of Bennett Construction who wants to employ WLC students as apprentices at sites across London.
West London College Deputy Principal: Planning, Partnerships and Projects Matt Fawcett who chaired the event, said: “The quality of conversations and input from delegates from the event was energising for all. With the connections we are making, the support on offer, and the knowledge shared, businesses in our region will undoubtedly create more apprenticeships and increase gender diversity.”
Southall Community College is home to WLC’s new £3 million Construction and Green Skills Centre as well as one of three state-of-the-art immersive learning classrooms, launched for National Apprenticeships Week.
West London College gratefully acknowledges CITB for sponsoring our West London Business Breakfast and Networking event.
Our next West London Business Breakfast and Networking event is on Tuesday 26 March 2024 at Ealing Green College. If you are an employer or local business and would like to attend to find out more about upskilling and apprenticeship opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org