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West Midlands’ mayor to address skills and housing problem

Construction picture

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, has detailed two initiatives to help build more homes on derelict brownfield land and fill the region’s growing construction skills gap.

Street launched the West Midlands Combined Authority’s new £5 million regional construction training fund at the Construction Futures conference in Wolverhampton.

The initiative aims to recruit local people to help fill the 2,800 additional jobs, which have been created each year by the region’s booming construction industry.

Street announced plans for a National Brownfield Institute to be built on the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield campus.

The institute will support the authority’s drive to use brownfield land for new developments, and will research methods of construction such as modular housing.

Street said: “The institute and training fund will help safeguard and nurture our region’s most important assets – its people and land – helping to give everyone the opportunity of a decent job and an affordable home.”

The training programme would focus on the unemployed and low-waged to help boost the region’s productivity and underpin continued economic growth.

Professor Geoff Layer, vice-chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said:

“There is a huge amount of brownfield land across the Black Country and wider West Midlands and we are looking forward to helping play an integral role in identifying and unlocking that land’s potential for regeneration and in particular supporting ways to address the housing shortage."

The authority has set aside £200 million to prepare former industrial sites, many of which are in the Black Country, for development.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) found that the West Midlands will have around 215,000 people employed in the construction sector by 2020, an increase of 10,000 since 2015.

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