The skills shortage in the construction sector could be tackled by retraining prison leavers and socially disadvantaged individuals who need an opportunity to prove their talent.
That’s the view of Sandra Kirkham, group managing director of Progress to Excellence Group and the Chair of Wirral Chamber of Commerce.
Companies like Greggs and Timpson have led the way in getting prison leavers into work and now the construction sector is set to follow suit.
Fears have been raised that Liverpool’s thriving digital creative sector could be hit by the skills shortage in the region’s construction sector.
The issue is set to be discussed at BusinessCloud’s ‘Liverpool City Region’s Construction Skills Summit’ on November 15.
The event is being run in conjunction with Progress to Excellence Group, which has already successfully trained, employed and secured alternative employment for individuals who have been socially and economically disadvantaged in their community .
“Everyone is in agreement that we have a recruitment problem in the construction sector in Liverpool City Region and that has massive implications on the delivery of projects and the cost,” said Kirkham.
“As a region we’re already using a lot of construction workers from across the UK and Europe so we have to upskill more local people to fill key construction roles like bricklaying.
“Getting more young people excited by the opportunity to work in construction is vital but we are also looking forward to work with prison leavers and veterans from our armed forces.”
Kirkham said the work of companies like Timpson had changed people’s negative perceptions of recruiting from prisons.
“We have to be prepared to give people a second chance,” she said. “Once they’ve served their time they should be allowed to integrate themselves back into society by getting a job. We can’t turn our back on huge sections of society.
“We’ve had a very favourable reaction from our visits into prisons and we know that prison leavers can be among the most loyal staff you’ll ever recruit.”
Liverpool City Region boasts the second fastest growing technology start-up clusters in the country with around 3,500 businesses, which has fuelled demand for office space.
Baltic Creative CIC own and manage 120,000 sq ft of space and have ambitious plans to increase this figure significantly in the next five years. Their managing director Mark Lawler said it was vital the city produced a pipeline of creative and digital space over the next five years.
Kirkham and Lawler will be joined at the event by Sara Lawton, who is a director of Construction Impact Framework; Asif Hamid MBE, chair of the LEP; Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority; Tom Powell, MD, Complete Training Solutions; and Dr Paul Jones, development manager, Capital & Centric.