ilke Homes launches UK’s first modular housing academy

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Modular homes manufacturer, ilke Homes has launched the UK’s first academy to train up the next generation of housebuilders and engineers to manufacture homes in factories

The ilke Academy will hire people from all walks of life, including school-leavers, military veterans, ex-offenders and women.

The ilke Academy will be based next to the ilke Homes factory in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, which currently has the capacity to produce 2,000 homes a year. This will enable new recruits and existing staff to learn a range of vital new skills including engineering, plumbing, manufacturing, carpentry and design.

The academy will also support trainees’ professional growth, with a leadership development course already in place offering new recruits internal progression opportunities and a clear career path in the modular housing industry.

The ilke academy will welcome 162 new recruits and further the training of current ilke Homes employees, with applications open to 17-year olds through to those extending their career beyond retirement.

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ilke Homes have plans to expand their recruitment drive by establishing apprenticeship and graduate schemes that can support the wider construction and manufacturing industry.

ilke Homes manufacture homes that arrive on site with fully-fitted kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. This process is twice as fast as traditional housebuilding and results in higher quality homes, due to them being manufacturing on a controlled production line with over a hundred quality checks.

The launch of the ilke Academy – the first-ever onsite academy focusing on homes built in a factory – follows similar measures undertaken by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who announced the Mayor’s Construction Academy, focusing on traditional construction, in 2018.

Through its academy, ilke Homes wants to train people typically viewed as unskilled or unemployable while also supporting the local economy.

Yorkshire has one of the UK’s highest levels of unemployment; standing at 5% against the UK average of 3.8%. Meanwhile, more than four out of five (83%) of all ex-offenders are unable to find a job one year after release, according to the ONS.

The ilke Homes management team hopes that setting up local networks with a local men’s and a local women’s prison, they can prevent re-offending and promote housebuilding to a new generation of people.

ilke Homes want to work with careers advisors to help change perceptions and address the considerable lack of young people entering construction.

ilke Homes is also part of The 5% Club, a membership group tackling youth poverty set up by Balfour Beatty boss, Leo Quinn. It hopes to use the academy to help tackle some of the negative perceptions young people have towards construction by showcasing some of the emerging skills and technologies used in modern methods of construction (MMC).

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman of ilke Homes, said: “We have a responsibility to help people from all backgrounds find employment and for too long, the construction sector has sat on its hands while the skills shortage has hit crisis point. Creating local jobs and helping get more women and young people into the sector have to be priorities.

“The government has ambitious targets to build new homes and only through investment in factories will this realistically happen. Investment will only flow if the right skills exist – and that’s why we are keen to collaborate with everyone in the industry.

“Offsite manufacturing gives people a genuine, clear career path together with the opportunity to play a part in disrupting UK housebuilding. Anyone, be they a school-leaver seeking their first full-time job or a reformed offender, should have the chance to be trained – not least when they can help end the housing crisis by building beautiful, high-quality homes.”

Duncan O’Leary, chief executive of the New Futures Network, a specialist part of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will benefit ilke Homes, the individuals involved and the families and communities they are part of.

“Training and work placements in prisons equip offenders with skills they can use to find employment upon release. Having a job helps them get their lives back on track and ultimately keeps the public safe. By offering ex-offenders training relevant to their business, ilke Homes are joining over 300 employers that already benefit from hiring skilled people from prisons.”

Nigel Adams, Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty, commented: “It’s no secret that the construction industry has struggled to cope with the ongoing skills shortage. The launch of the ilke Academy represents a huge step in the right direction in teaching new skills for local people from all walks of life, creating new and exciting jobs, whilst boosting our local economy.

“I am delighted to see that Yorkshire has established itself as a hotbed of housing innovation. This will be vital as we continue to reverse the brain drain that the capital has swallowed up and ensure that we can attract top talent to the region.”

Mark Farmer, chief executive of Cast and author of the landmark Farmer Review, added: “It’s great that ilke Homes and the offsite manufacturing industry are directly employing workers and taking ownership of their training, creating a new generation of career opportunities. These jobs span digital design, supply chain management, manufacturing, on and off site assembly and logistics.

“This is a crucial opportunity for ilke Homes and other industry leaders in the emerging offsite manufacturing sector to collaborate on their collective common skills needs and to drive forward reformed, widely recognised and future-proofed qualifications that lead to greater industry attraction, higher productivity and a more diverse workforce.”

ilke Homes employee testimonial

Steffie Vause, production manager at ilke Homes, said: “In my previous role as a team leader at Burberry in the textiles industry, I felt I knew absolutely everything I could know about manufacturing. I could do the role in my sleep, but the culture didn’t suit me, and the lack of progression soon meant that I was no longer as satisfied as I once was. Since joining ilke Homes, I’ve found real satisfaction in my current role, manufacturing homes for people from all walks of life and making a real difference to people’s lives.

“My journey at ilke Homes began in January 2018. I started as a Team Leader, though 18 months on I am now a Production Manager  and I’m happy to say that I’m still learning every day.

“The idea of ‘building’ a house has been broken down into a reliable and exciting process with modular manufacturing, which is why we’ve opened the ilke Academy, letting us give new Team Members the best start and support they can have in this new industry.

“Though most of the team are new to modular manufacturing, there’s a real sense of collaboration as we develop alongside one another. Team members are trained in all the skills they’ll need down the production line so that even if you walk in to ilke Homes on your first day and don’t know what a Combi Drill is, by the end of your first week you will know how to use it safely and to achieve the standard of work required, and the ilke Academy will be instrumental in doing so.

“The ilke Academy will train people not only in the day-to-day skills involved in manufacturing homes, but training every team member to excel to become the company’s next leaders, giving every man and woman a chance to progress.”

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