Home Builders pledge to solve skills gap

The Home Building Skills Partnership will today launch a Skills Pledge committing signatories to working with their subcontractors to recruit and train more people to the highest standards. Over 50 HBF members have signed up including all its larger members and an increasing number of medium and small ones – meaning companies responsible for well over half the homes built in England are already committed.

The Skills Pledge is the latest initiative to come out of the Home Building Skills Partnership, a pan industry body set up to tackle the industry’s skills shortage. The Partnership, set up 18 months ago is already starting to deliver on its objective of attracting and training the people the industry needs to deliver more, high quality homes in the future.

The Home Building Skills Pledge has been developed by the HBF and its members in recognition of the need to collaboratively tackle the home building skills shortage, and the importance of future proofing workforce skills – via new entry routes as well as developing existing talent. This will mean that quality homes can be built where and when they are needed.

The Skills Pledge covers five key areas: Collaborate and share; Train to a standard; Engage and support; Champion diversity and inclusion; and Promote careers. By signing up to Pledge, companies will also be supporting the HBF’s Home Building Skills Partnership and working to its shared goals.

A year on since it was established, much has been achieved through the Partnership’s three activity groups in terms of mobilising the sector and setting the foundations to develop initiatives that will help close the widening skills gap. ‘On a micro level also the Partnership is starting to make a real difference on the ground. In the last three months alone site managers and trainee site mangers have been put through over 200 training courses with another 550 planned for the next three months, whilst around 50 young people are currently being fast tracked into trade roles including bricklaying, dry lining and joinery.

Speaking at the launch of the Skills Pledge at HBF’s annual Housing Market Intelligence event in London, John Tutte, Group Chief Executive of Redrow Plc, and Chair of the Home Building Skills Partnership, said:

“If we are to develop the capacity and build the high quality homes the country desperately needs, we as an industry must commit to recruiting and training the right people – now and in future. The skills gap, whilst acknowledged by the sector, requires a collective and committed response if we are to tackle it sustainably in the long term.

“The challenges posed by Brexit with regards to skills only make the need for effective collaboration more acute.

“It’s now the right moment to build on the achievements of the Home Building Skills Partnership over the last year and together send a powerful message, not only to the wider home building sector, but to government, education and careers providers, and of course, future recruits.”

Jenny Herdman, Director of the Home Building Skills Partnership, added:

“It is extremely encouraging to see momentum building for collectively solving the housing skills crisis.  We face a huge challenge but also have a unique opportunity to make a difference, and be part of a combined demonstration that a career in house building provides huge opportunities and prospects.

“We want to see the whole industry getting on board in the coming weeks, and working to make the skills gap a thing of the past. We urge all home builders to join us and sign up now.”

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said:

“This Government is committed to building many more homes in the places people want to live across the country. To do that we need an industry that has the right skills to build, including new and innovative methods.

“Our Housing White paper set out our plans to work with the Construction Leadership Council to encourage more investment in training. I’m pleased the HBF and CITB have committed to deliver 45,000 skilled workers by 2019.

“The Home Building Skills pledge shows the industry working collaboratively to ensure they’ve got a sustainable supply chain, and I look forward to seeing it result in even more skilled workers on the ground ready to build the homes this country needs.”