Britain’s brickwork is often overlooked and the skills needed to craft brickwork into something of beauty often taken for granted.
The Mary Watts Chapel in Compton in my constituency is an extraordinary example of a red brick arts and crafts masterpiece.
Wherever you go in this country, you will see homes or buildings that have been crafted with great care and skill, whether they are made of brick, concrete, glass or wood. We are a nation of masterbuilders.
Unfortunately we have not had enough masterbuilders to keep up with demand. We don’t have enough homes and we don’t have enough people with the skills to build them. In fact, the number of skilled people has decreased.
Our construction industry needs an injection of skilled people to make sure that everyone has a roof over their heads, whether that is supported by beautiful brickwork or more avant garde materials.
The government’s industrial strategy has one main aim: making sure that people have the skills they need to make a living, get a job, and get on in life. Those skills are ones that employers and the economy needs to thrive, and if we get that right we can build a Britain fit for the future by helping business create jobs in every part of UK.
A supported working environment
This week I have announced a £22m fund to help tackle the construction skills shortage. This will be critical to make sure we, as a government, deliver on our pledge to build 300,000 homes a year by 2020.
The Construction Skills Fund will support people to train on construction sites, where they can apply their knowledge in the workplace, and where they can lay a solid foundation for a new career.
“The Construction Skills Fund represents an important focus for the sector”
This is not just about school-leavers; it is for adults, particularly those who want to retrain if they have been unemployed or want to switch careers. This is for everyone – a supported working environment.
The scheme will be run by the CITB and will operate from 20 training hubs across the country.
Raising the prestige
It represents an important focus for the sector. Not only will it attract vital new talent; it will provide a pioneering approach to linking training with work.
We are midway through some major changes in the education system in this country. We are creating a world-class technical and vocational education system that offers people a real choice of high-quality training that is on a par with academic routes. These changes will raise the prestige of technical education, with T-levels – alongside apprenticeships – providing students with a high-quality, technical alternative to A-levels.
Few countries can match the energy and range of education reforms that are currently being pursued in England.
We are working with employers to create high-quality apprenticeships and training programmes at all levels that give people of all ages and backgrounds the skills they need. We are bringing craftsman back into fashion.
Anne Milton MP is the minister for skills and apprenticeships