Berkeley calls on industry to take the lead in solving skills crisis

29th November 2016

Berkeley Calls on Industry to Solve Skills Crisis
  • Leading housebuilder reaches over 500 apprentices for first time and pledges to triple the number in training by 2018.
  • Inaugural Berkeley Group Apprentice Awards launched at the historic Royal Arsenal
  • Latest figures show 25% of contractors decline to bid for new jobs because they lack the workforce.

London, today, Berkeley Group calls on the construction industry to show real leadership in tackling the skills crisis as it announces the winners of the first Berkeley Group Apprentice Awards.

In the past 6 months Berkeley has increased the number of apprentices across the company by 31% - from 390 to 512 - and has pledged to have 1,500 people in apprenticeships and training by 2018.

The awards ceremony, hosted at Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich, recognises individuals and businesses who have demonstrated their commitment to apprenticeships. It is part of a wider campaign by Berkeley to encourage more people into construction.

Research this month by BUILD UK found that 25% of contractors are not bidding for new business because of labour shortages. Berkeley is hoping that by working closely with their sub-contractors and partnering with the supply chain, they can help to turn the tide.

These awards come just a month after publication of the Farmer Review, a Government-commissioned report which revealed chronic shortcomings in the UK construction labour model. This reinforced the analysis by KPMG and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry showing that 400,000 UK construction workers are expected to retire over the next 10 years.

Rob Perrins, Chief Executive of the Berkeley Group, said:

"This is an issue where business has to lead, not Government. It's our job to find the workforce and develop their skills. Working in construction today is cutting edge, worthwhile and well rewarded. That's the message we have to communicate, getting into schools and tapping into talent pools that historically the industry has struggled to reach - women as well as men, people of all ages, and from every culture and community."

The winners were chosen from 104 submissions for the 13 different awards by a panel of judges including 2 former apprentices, David Blyth and Max Tullett, and winner of a 2016 Women in Build award, Rachel Darvall.
Alongside this apprentice scheme, Berkeley is investing widely in boosting skills and employment across the housebuilding sector. Berkeley has set up a construction skills training centre at Kidbrooke Village in partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich. This involves a six week boot camp, including work experience on site. If every London borough copied this model, it would create 800 apprenticeships in one year alone.

Notes to editors:

About the winners:

  • Best Apprentice in a Berkeley Division - Rose Keene
  • Best Dryliner - Liviu Pavel Moga
  • Best Bricklayer - Connor Honeyman
  • Best Electrical -  Ibrahim Dauhoo
  • Best External Apprentice - Rhyce Jones
  • Best Groundworks - Ashabur Rahman
  • Best Plumbing - Steven Willis
  • Best Carpentry - Daniel Traylen
  • Best Support Service - Lauren Lakeman
  • Best Apprentice Champion - Eoin Hickey
  • Best Berkeley Division - Berkeley Homes Oxford & Chiltern
  • Top Subcontractor - Contour Roofing
  • Best Overall Apprentice - Ashabur Rahman

Background on Apprentices:

Best Overall Apprentice - Ashabur Rahman (Dumont, St James)
Ashabur was recruited through Crisis. He had recently been released from prison and was living in a hostel. He had no experience of construction but during the interview with Keltbray they were impressed with his attitude and commitment to changing his life. His apprenticeship takes place in the north of England, which was a challenge due to the conditions of his probation. Working closely with the probation officer, and inspired by the dedication Ashabur has shown, Keltbray have managed to find solutions. He now also mentors new members of staff who are ex-offenders.

Best External Apprentice - Rhyce Jones (Contour Roofing)
Rhyce was nominated for his exceptional contribution and commitment to becoming a skilled roof tiler, slater and leadworker. He started with Contour Roofing in 2015, at the age of 15, and was working under supervision to understand the products and gain knowledge. His attendance is excellent both on site and at college. To Contour, he is proof that apprenticeships work. In 2017, Rhyce will be going out on his own as a gang leader and setting up his own jobs, with the company knowing that he'll deliver a quality finished roof whilst carrying out and adhering to all the safety procedures.

Best Electrical Apprentice - Ibrahim Dauhoo (Woodberry Down, NEL)
Ibrahim's first experience on a building site was when he started at Woodberry Down. He joined Brenbar as an apprentice and took his first steps to become an electrician. He is now a core team member and one of the first to be picked when teams are assigned. Ibrahim is the example that Brenbar judge all apprentices by and his success has inspired the company to invest more time and resources into their apprenticeship program.

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