£500k boost to expand ground-breaking construction academies in South Essex

An award-winning drive to train up a new army of construction workers across South Essex has been so successful that it has won £500k of central government funding to continue until March next year.

2 construction workers in high vis clothing working on a site

The South Essex Construction Training Academy (SECTA) was established in January last year with nearly £1m of government funding, with the aim of training up 650 new construction workers by March 2020. By this date, it had smashed this target, with 749 having completed training - and it has been upheld as a model for other areas of the UK to follow. Of those trained, 211 are already in sustained employment. Its targets* for enrolment, local employment, non-traditional entry routes and underrepresented groups have all been exceeded too.

Until now, SECTA has operated as a joint project between Southend-on-Sea, Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford and Thurrock councils along with industry partners. This new funding enables to expand into the Brentwood Borough too, meaning it will now be delivered across the whole South Essex area.

The funding from the Construction Skills Fund, is part of the Department for Education National Retraining Fund, and is administered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). 

With skills and labour shortages in the construction labour market both locally and nationally, SECTA is proving vital in meeting the current and future needs of the industry so that South Essex has a trained and experienced workforce to build the homes, schools and other vital infrastructure that we all rely upon.

Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “Ensuring the local construction sector has the right people and skills is critical to our region’s ability to meet its ambitious housing targets. Construction is a major and growing industry in South Essex and can offer a secure and lucrative career. SECTA is not only ensuring that local families benefit from a ready supply of better high-quality homes in the development pipeline, but it is also improving the lives of the many hundreds of people - either just setting out in the world of work or taking the brave step of a career change - who complete the award-winning training.

“I am absolutely delighted that the government has recognised its success and provided funding to ensure it can continue and expand through to the next financial year.”

SECTA brings together construction companies, referral bodies and local councils across South Essex to provide careers advice to hands-on training and real-world experience. It creates action plans tailored to each individual’s aspirations and supports their needs.

In October last year, The South Essex Construction Training Academy (SECTA) scooped the prize in the “Skills” category at the Housing Excellence Awards 2019.

SECTA is able to support any individual not currently working in construction. SECTA tends to work with individuals over 17 years of age. You may be currently unemployed, working in a different industry, economically inactive or pre-apprenticeship.  Individuals can register their interest by visiting SECTA Training.

CITB Director of Policy Steve Radley said: “Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to make the South Essex Construction Training Academy such a success, helping local people get employment and site-ready and in many cases finding work in the industry. The fact that SECTA has been chosen as one of 14 hubs to be a part of CSF 2 is testament to this hard work. As the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that the construction industry attracts and retains the talent needed to get Britain building again.”

Published: 14th July 2020

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