Construction and skills training on hold during Covid-19 outbreak

Woolwich Works Royal Arsenal without construction teams this week due to temporary C-Virus restrictions

There has been much debate in recent days about protecting construction workers during the Covid-19 outbreak. It has become evident that the nature of construction work means that the social distancing of workers cannot always be achieved.

While some construction continues, Mace Group CEO Mark Reynolds made an important decision on Tuesday this week to 'temporarily suspend operations on all of Mace's construction sites for a 48 hour period.'

'We are still currently exploring measures' he stated, 'that allow us to operate a number of sites while adhering to the Construction Leadership Council's Standard Operating Procedures...It is absolutely vital to our national interest that parts of the economy are able to resume operations in some way, to deliver essential works and preserve our critical construction and manufacturing capability...during this critical time I am calling on the construction industry to act responsibly and develop a coordinated and collective response to the crisis.'

Meanwhile in Coventry where a new construction skills hub had opened this month to offer local people skills training in order to gain jobs, the National Careers Service West Midlands confirmed to Future Cities Forum that there is temporary closure on the educational offer until after the outbreak is resolved.

The £300,000 hub funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) through its Construction Gateway programme was set to offer local unemployed people a guaranteed job interview after completing a two-week tailor-made training course.

The hub is being led by local infrastructure contractor Eurovia Contracting and promised a total of 150 local people the potential of new jobs over the next year. These were working on a regeneration project as part of the city's preparations to celebrate its title as UK City of Culture in 2021.

So far more than 1,400 people have been through Construction Gateway training since summer 2018, with 700 people successfully moved into employment after completing the course.

Councillor Kevin Maton, cabinet member for education and skills, at Coventry City Council said:

'The skyline of Coventry is rapidly changing with some great construction projects helping to transform the city. One of our key priorities is to ensure we enable our residents to learn the skills to help them into work. This exciting project will help us achieve that aim and see some of its beneficiaries playing a key role in the city's transformation.'

Future Cities Forum will be following developments in construction training projects over the following months, and the regeneration of Coventry as it moves towards the UK City of Culture in 2021.

(All facts correct at time of going to publication)

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