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Top contractors back #loveLIVES to save Building Lives’ short-term future

Building Lives will unveil plans for a new business model on Thursday evening to secure its long-term future and double the number of training opportunities it can offer.

The social enterprise provides construction training and apprenticeships for hundreds of unemployed Londoners each year but has been threatened with closure due to a lack of funding.

To secure its long-term access to grant funding, from August 2015 Building Lives plans to offer traineeships lasting four to six months in trades with skills shortages, instead of the 20-month multi-skilled apprenticeships it currently provides.

The traineeships would lead to 12-month apprenticeships with a contractor, which would employ the apprentice and pay their salary directly.

As Construction News went to press, the #loveLIVES campaign to raise £400,000 in 50 days to secure Building Lives’ short-term future had reached almost £100,000, with pledges received from the Canary Wharf Contractors Fund, Laing O’Rourke and Mouchel.

Building Lives is set to announce plans for its new model on Thursday night at a House of Lords reception hosted by Baroness Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The organisation would continue to act as a one-stop-shop for contractors employing its trainees.

It would assist with the paperwork for employers’ grants and carry out apprentices’ onsite assessments, but it would no longer rely directly on CITB funding to provide apprenticeships.

Building Lives managing director Sian Workman told Construction News the new model would get its learners working and earning a salary faster, while also helping to plug the skills gap in London.

She said: “We have taken everything good about a traineeship and an apprenticeship, combined the two models and come up with what could be described as a ‘careership’.

“Due to our links with the construction sector, our new programme is completely demand-led, separating us from standard college provision.”

Building Lives said the CITB had confirmed to it that contractors would be eligible for full grant money for the apprentices they employ.

The CITB declined to comment due to purdah restrictions.

Under the plans, Building Lives would also double the number of young and unemployed people it trains each year to around 1,000.

The #loveLIVES campaign led by Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, KPMG and Construction News is raising money to help keep Building Lives afloat and help the 200 learners who have started their pre-apprenticeship training.

Those learners face an uncertain future and may not get the Level 2 apprenticeship they were promised unless £400,000 is raised by 1 June 2015.

Building Lives apprenticeship officer Gabriel Ededey told Construction News his 32 learners at the Haringey academy were “distraught” when they found out that there may not be enough funding for their full apprenticeships.

“They kicked off; they were really upset, really annoyed – I was chasing people down the road, apologising and telling them it was not what was intended for them,” he said.

“I’ve got guys here who have previous criminal records, and this was an opportunity for them to change their lives.

“And that’s why they came to Building Lives, because we can support them into building their lives and careers back up.”

Last week, Canary Wharf Contractors Fund kick-started private sector contributions to the #loveLIVES campaign with a £20,000 donation.

It was followed by Laing O’Rourke, which also pledged £20,000, and Mouchel, which pledged £2,000.

Laing O’Rourke chief executive Anna Stewart urged other contractors to back the #loveLIVES campaign.

She said: “With the skills gap in the construction sector only set to increase, we believe initiatives like Building Lives are fundamental to the future growth of our industry, and therefore we would encourage companies to join us in supporting this campaign.”

#loveLIVES

Get involved in the #loveLIVES campaign:

Visit www.lighthouseclub.org/buildinglives to donate, or visit cnplus.co.uk/buildinglives for all the latest campaign news.

Visit www.cnplus.co.uk/home/buildinglives/#sign to sign your name to the list of supporters of #loveLIVES.

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