Builder Laing O’Rourke acts to stem skills shortage with training school

Construction firm Laing O’Rourke is to set up a training academy to address the chronic skills shortages in the building industry.

The move, announced last week, comes at a time when construction companies need to recruit 86,150 more staff each year to meet demand, according to the Construction Industry Training Board.

The Manchester-based training academy, scheduled to open in the autumn, will cater for 100 apprentices a year.

Caroline Blackman, director of people development at Laing O’Rourke, said the training would be based on the government’s Modern Apprenticeship scheme, but tailored to fit the organisational culture of the company.

The two-year course will focus on health and safety issues and behaviourial training to make sure Laing O’Rourke is regarded as an employer of choice by customers and potential employees, she said.

Other industries are also trying to address skills shortages that threaten UK competitiveness.

A host of employers recently promised 2.4bn to train staff in IT skills through the sector skills development agency E-skills.

And Philip Green, the billionaire owner of Bhs and the Arcadia Group, last year pledged to set up a 10m retail academy to train school leavers in every aspect of retail, including marketing, design and finance.

As well as addressing skills shortages, the construction industry is at the forefront of the government’s campaign to get more women to consider non-traditional roles. Women make up only 1% of workers in the construction industry.

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