Pioneering skills campus launches at Kirkstall Forge - Wates

CEG and Wates Construction have celebrated National Apprenticeship Week (6-10 March) with the launch of a new skills centre for the Leeds community at CEGs £400m Kirkstall Forge development, where Wates is building a new seven-storey office development.

The innovative Forging Futures Campus was unveiled at a launch event jointly hosted by CEG and Wates at Kirkstall Forge, where 23 individuals have already benefitted from the creation of training and employment opportunities at the scheme.

Launched in partnership with Leeds City Council, the Forging Futures Campus has been jointly funded by CEG and Wates Giving, a programme set up by the Wates Family that makes over 250 grants worth around £1m a year to charities and community groups.

Designed to increase employment prospects for the people of Leeds, the pioneering new skills centre will offer vocational training for local jobseekers, including opportunities for approximately 12 apprentices as part of the Kirkstall Forge project team, 46 site visits and 25 work experience placements.

This will include the delivery of Wates industry leading Building Futures programme in May, an intensive training programme that gives jobseekers the opportunity to experience a variety of hands-on trades and CV workshops. The programme will culminate in opportunities for long-term employment with Wates and its supply chain.

Work experience projects will also be carried out through the programme, the first of which has seen one group of students from Leeds College of Building design, project manage and build a new garage on site. A name-engraved brick will also be created for each campus graduate, which will form a permanent legacy wall of fame at Kirkstall Forge.

Opportunities for suppliers in Leeds will also include Social Enterprises (SE), with which Wates has committed to spending approximately £18,000. Of this target, Wates has so far spent £11,000 with SEs, including Shine, a local catering services SE, which is dedicated to up-skilling women from local prisons in readiness for the world of work.

Wates Construction, CEG, Leeds College of Building and Leeds City Council will deliver the Forging Future Campus programme in association with key stakeholders, including The Skill Mill, Pierre Angulaire and BARCA (Bramley and Rodley Community Association) amongst others.

Jon Kenny, Development Director at CEG said:

CEG is delighted to deliver this innovative vocational training programme which will involve teenagers, students, and local people and provide the opportunity to work alongside developers, builders, architects and engineers, leading to apprenticeship opportunities. Ultimately we will help to train Leeds future architects, bricklayers, civil engineers, joiners, plumbers and electricians through site visits, curriculum projects, hands-on work experience and mentoring support. Forging Futures Campus will showcase a pool of talent in action for businesses to be able to visit, monitor and select their apprentices from.

Paul Dodsworth, Business Unit Director of Wates Construction Yorkshire and North East, commented:

“Our pioneering skills initiative at Kirkstall Forge will give individuals from all walks of life a career kick start and enable young people to gather an insight into the inner workings of a construction site, ensuring a fresh stream of talent into the sector. This is our chance to ensure the work being carried out at Kirkstall Forge brings about a wider benefit for Leeds community and that CEGs investment into the area revives local opportunity as regeneration work advances in Kirkstall.”

Ian Billyard, College Principal, Leeds College of Building, said:

Our students will be taking part in a number of site visits and some will be given the opportunity to gain invaluable work experience on a live project. Kirkstall Forge is an impressive scheme thats on our doorstep, and for our students to be involved in a development on this scale that covers all areas of construction, will no doubt help them to build on the skill-sets they are learning at college, which makes it a very exciting opportunity.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Councils executive member for employment, skills and opportunity said:

“With partners, we are working extremely hard to create a range of meaningful and high quality apprenticeships in Leeds to people of all ages.

I was delighted therefore to be at the unveiling of the Forging Futures Campus, which will provide a fantastic environment in which to equip apprentices with the skills to have a long and successful career in a variety of professions and trades.”

Wates commenced building work at CEGs £400m regeneration scheme in March 2016. The scheme comprises the creation of a seven-storey 110,000 sq ft. Grade A office development, the first building to be constructed at the 57 acre site.

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