Learning hub Procure Plus sets ambitious new goals after meeting employment targets early

Manchester learning hub Procure Plus is aiming even higher after meeting its target of delivering trainees in to construction-based employment earlier than expected. The Stretford-based hub, which joined the Construction Skills Fund (CSF) in October 2018, has now set itself the target of delivering double the number of trainees and an additional 150 positions of employment by March 2020.

CSF aims to support people out of work, or at risk of redundancy to secure the training they need to start new careers in construction. Funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and delivered by Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the pilot scheme aims to increase the number of people trained in construction, tackle the skills shortage and build the homes and infrastructure England needs.

The objectives of the £1.1m funding received by Procure Plus as part of the CSF pilot are to develop an on-site learning hub, and to secure employment opportunities for the unemployed, career changers and those under-represented in the construction industry.

Procure Plus was initially targeted to train 675 candidates. This has been revised to 1,175, with a further target of 500 jobs up from 350, all of which are still to be delivered within the original target date of March 2020.

The majority of candidates will continue to be recruited through local community groups specialising in working with local people who have experienced barriers to work. These partnerships, and information from LEPs and local authorities, will enable Procure Plus to engage with those considering changing to a career in construction and recommend the CSF.

Over the past 12 months, the pilot scheme has given trainees opportunities that would otherwise have been unavailable. One such candidate is Ben Pollit, age 20 from Wythenshawe. Through his local employment group and Procure Plus, Ben was referred to the Construction Skills Fund learning hub.

Ben said: “The additional knowledge and confidence I gained from attending the training courses has really supported my application and helped me secure the job with Spire CS.  The training was very interactive and Neil and the team at Spire CS have really helped me settle into working on site.  Without the funding I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to apply for the position and start a new career in construction”. 

Neil Madden, from Spire CS said: “Ben has been very impressive since starting work.  Ben has a good attitude, is willing to learn and has a good career ahead”.

Diane Roberts, Chief Executive at YES Manchester commented: “The work we have already done in partnership with Procure Plus and CSF has had a huge impact on our local community. By working with Procure Plus, we can ensure those in our communities with barriers to work are able to benefit in real terms from the construction activity happening across Manchester, not only getting training, but being supported into real jobs with great prospects.”

Kate Parker, Senior Regeneration Manager at Procure Plus, added: “Whilst we’re delighted our contribution to the CSF pilot has led to almost a doubling of our targets for trainees and a significant increase in resulting jobs, we feel the pilot is highlighting a back to work model that is delivering real successes in volume, and whilst it’s a lot of work for the Procure Plus team over the next few months we are energised by the success we’ve delivered to date.”

Steve Radley, Policy Director at CITB, said: “Without the outstanding work of organisations such as Procure Plus it wouldn’t be possible to successfully deliver projects like the Construction Skills Fund. It’s really impressive that having already reached its set targets Procure Plus is now setting itself ambitious new targets that will provide local people with the skills and contacts they need to find work.

“Congratulations to all the trainees who have completed their training with Procure Plus and secured employment through the Construction Skills Fund. The contributions of the trainees and organisations like Procure Plus enable us to continue tackling the skills gap and diversifying the industry.”

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