Willmott Dixon will scale up national upskilling programme with Building Lives Academies

building lives
Frank Towell Court Building Lives Academy

Willmott Dixon is collaborating with two more London boroughs and three colleges to open Building Lives Academies to train up hundreds of people annually so that they can find work in construction

building lives
Frank Towell Court Building Lives Academy

Willmott Dixon has partnered with Kensington & Chelsea Council to open its latest Building Lives Academy (BLA) on 17 January. This academy will provide training and work experience over 11 weeks to 16-24-year-old residents in the area. Ultimately, the company’s aim is to build 57 new homes at Kensal Road and Hewer Street.

Another BLA has been organised in the London Borough of Hounslow to help create Frank Tower Court, a housing complex that will see 102 new homes go up. A three-week programme will provide qualifications such as Health and Safety and Traffic Marshall certificates, a CSCS card and real-life work experience to help the local community find jobs in the industry.

In South Croydon, the Orbital College Group will work with Willmott Dixon to set up construction sector-based youth academies in the John Ruskin College and East Surrey College campuses. By providing young people with employability skills such as CV writing, job hunting and interview practice the academies hope to help get them into construction jobs. A similar initiative is taking place at Merton College Campus, part of South Thames College Group.

In the South West at Weston-super-Mare, the company has partnered with the CITB and Weston College to offer the the Constructing Lives Together programme. A two-week training course will allow candidates to earn a CSCS card and a Health and Safety in a Construction Environment Level 1 certification – considered a gateway into construction.

‘It’s also part of our ethos to drive social mobility’

Sarah Fraser, head of the Willmott Dixon Foundation, said:

“As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, upskilling in our local communities will be more important than ever. Supporting people to find long-term jobs will help give the construction industry the capacity to build the much-needed infrastructure that will generate wider growth in our economy.

“It’s also part of our ethos to drive social mobility and leave a skills legacy in the communities where we work, and we are delighted with the huge interest our academies have generated among young people. Our ‘Now or Never’ 2030 sustainability strategy includes our Building Lives commitment to help more than 1,000 people facing significant barriers to work gain access to new career opportunities.”

Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader and lead member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment, added:

“Building high-quality homes requires high-quality professionals and it’s a real boost that the Building Lives Academy will give our young people the chance to be at the forefront of construction in their own borough.

“The Academy will provide an excellent, practical introduction to the industry and perhaps in time its graduates will play a role in our plans to build 600 new Council-owned homes in the borough.”

Other Building Lives Academies

There are multiple Building Lives Academies across the country, including a Drylining Academy in HMP Elmley, opened by Willmott Dixon. They resulted in nearly half of 2019 and 2020 attendees (44%) finding work within three months.  Previously, all of those attendees were unemployed.

In accordance with Covid guidelines, in 2020 Willmott Dixon adapted its Building Lives programmes so they could be delivered digitally and in-person, enabling people to gain vital skills, opening doors to long-term employment.


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