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Birmingham, MEPC and the growth of construction skills

Chamberlain Square, Birmingham where MEPC has offices at the centre of the Paradise development - picture taken just prior to the Commonwealth Games in 2022

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Ross Fittall, Commercial Development Director, at MEPC, will be joining our 'Infrastructure, Construction and Energy 2024' discussion event in London. He will be talking alongside the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, EDF Energy, London Councils and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Ross is keen to promote the importance of high-quality place-making in cities, which he says attracts commercial companies to take office space for their employees post Covid and draws in further international talent.

MEPC have been developing 'Paradise', an inner city area with important heritage buildings from the 19th century. A new civic space has been created, cutting out the noisy traffic from surrounding roads and providing much needed new homes and work places. The developer is also involved in Mary Le Port, Bristol, NOMA Manchester and Wellington Place Leeds, among other projects.

The firm is supporting a ground-breaking new partnership which will help tackle the construction skills shortage to support delivery of 113 current and planned major developments in Birmingham – including Phase Three of Paradise, HS2’s Birmingham Curzon Street, and Smithfield.

The Birmingham and Solihull Construction Skills Alliance, launched last month, is jointly led by South and City College Birmingham (SCCB) and Birmingham City Council, and will unite the construction sector to help deliver the workforce and skills pipeline to match demand. 

In a first, the Alliance will bring the Council, SCCB, developers and main construction contractors, skills and recruitment partners and industry bodies together under one virtual roof to look at the roles and training needed now and in the future. 

SCCB, which has the largest construction training facility in Europe, will design new apprenticeships and training that equip regional recruits with the skills they need to gain long-term employment.

The Alliance will also offer SMEs support to employ apprentices and make use of levy funding available.

Speaking following the launch, Councillor Sharon Thompson, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council said:

“This partnership is supporting the Council and the city’s aim to help deliver a diverse range of skills to help our young people access long-term employment in the city. The construction pipeline in Birmingham is ambitious with HS2, the redevelopment of Smithfield and more, changing the landscape of the city, and we want our young professionals to be part of this future.

  “This is a vital step for Birmingham and the wider region. As a council, working closely with our partners, we are committed to tackling the challenges we face in the construction sector by aligning how we work to avoid duplication and maximise skills and training for our young population. Allowing the city, and population, to develop to its full potential.”

Current figures* show the UK requires 12,000 new employees a year to 2025 and 30,000 annually until 2030 to meet net zero and retrofit homes. In the West Midlands alone, an extra 25,350 construction workers will be needed by 2027.

To help meet demand, the Council will bring its knowledge of major current and future planning applications, with employers sharing workforce and skills requirements for projects along with that of their supply chains. This will help SCCB to shape future apprenticeships to supply the right skills and talent needed.

During the event, a new Women and Girls into Construction Working Group (WGCWG), led by UK skills and professional labour supplier for construction Danny Sullivan Group, was also launched.

Heading up the WGCWG, Suki Dhillon-Basra, social value, skills and employment advisor at Danny Sullivan Group, said: “At the moment we are failing to break down the stereotypes that will help us see more girls start a career in construction, and this is what makes the Women and Girls into Construction Group so important. This isn’t just about meeting current demands in the sector – it’s about shaping the future workforce and creating opportunities for the next generation.”

Partners in the Alliance include development partners MEPC, Paradise, Berkeley St Joseph, and Galliard Homes, HS2 main contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), and main contractors Skanska, Tilbury Douglas, Galliford Try and John Sisk and Son. Industry bodies and recruitment and skills partners signed up to the partnership are Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Jobcentre Plus, National Careers Service, Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Adult Education Partners, Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and Talentview. 


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