Construction skills threat can be an opportunity for nation’s youth

With the Local Government Association (LGA) warning yesterday (17th August) that a lack of construction skills could undermine the government’s pledge to build 275,000 affordable homes by 2020, one brickwork academy, opening next month, is reporting record levels of interest.

The launch of the new Hodgkinson Brickwork Academy, scheduled for this September at Derby College’s campuses in Ilkeston and the Roundhouse in Pride Park (Derby), saw over 100 potential recruits attend its open day in June.

Devised by local construction entrepreneur Ian Hodgkinson, in partnership with Derby College, students will be taught practical brickwork skills and theory. Students at the academy will also benefit from individual support and mentoring from Mr Hodgkinson and his team, practical work experience and a guaranteed interview with the company at the completion of their one or two year course.

Demand for places is high, reflecting the demand for skills, with the Local Government Association citing “a growing mismatch” between the construction industry’s increasing demand for skills and a falling number of people gaining construction qualifications.

While the construction industry’s forecast annual recruitment need is up 54 percent from 2013, there are 10,000 fewer construction qualifications being awarded by colleges, apprenticeships and universities, today’s analysis found.

Mr Hodgkinson said:

“I can absolutely understand the LGA’s concern, there has been underinvestment in the next generation due to the economic downturn and we’re all having to work very hard to catch up. Our academy is a part of this and is proving incredibly popular. In fact, it is looking likely that we may have to open another very soon to cope with the demand.

“Students and their parents, guardians and teachers are seeing this gap in the market and are keen to get into the industry. It is up to us and other responsible contractors and educational establishment like ourselves to do what we can to ensure that the gap is closed and we can satisfy the demand, creating fulfilling and well paid jobs in the process.”

Derby College business development director April Hayhurst added:

“The response so far to the Hodgkinson Brick Academy has been outstanding and we are confident of a significant number of new learners joining the programme this September at both our Derby and Ilkeston campuses.”