Agenda item

Skills Academies 3.20pm

Presentations by Miriam Venner (City of Bristol College) and Charlotte Olver (Galliford Try)


The Board received a joint presentation from Charlotte Olver (Galliford Try) and Miriam Venner (City of Bristol College) about work to develop construction skills academies with a view to meeting the demand for skills shortages in the industry and providing career opportunities for local communities.


MV reported that:

  • The City of Bristol College had invested in a £9m development project at Hengrove, predominately funding through the Local Enterprise Partnership, with a view to training skilled workers in the construction industry;
  • The planning process was underway and the project was due to open in September 2021;
  • The project responded to a local skills shortage and a projected demand for 80,000 skilled jobs in the future;
  • The project would start with 850 students and would grow year on year;
  • The new curriculum offer would include higher apprenticeships; provide more traditional training routes and form part of a coherent regional plan for skills delivery;
  • The project looked to involve local young people and address the current situation where South Bristol had a large number of NEETS (young people not in Employment, Education or Training);
  • The facility would allow students to work in an outside area to give them a real experience of a construction site;
  • In delivering the project, the City of Bristol College was working with key employers such as Galliford Try.


CO reports as follows:

  • Galliford Try launched its first skills academy in 2017 and now had 8; the most recent being in Blackberry Hill, Fishponds;
  • The academy initiative was to create an on-site experience for students to try and engage them with construction;
  • The initiative was targeted at the long term unemployed and hard to reach people to give them a taste of the construction industry;
  • The initiative had a dual purpose of addressing the construction skills and housing shortages and providing training opportunities for people looking for work.  The on-site training academies allowed students to be trained in the Green CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) Card which was necessary for anyone wishing to work on a construction site;
  • The academy in Bristol was working closely with the City of Bristol College and supporting students in advance of the new facilities opening;
  • The on-site training was particularly important to give people a real experience of the work, as a lot of construction workers leave the industry within 2 years;
  • Since starting the initiative, Galliford Try had engaged with over 2,000 people and many lives had changed as a result.


The following comments were raised:


  • There was a shortage of people being trained in the Chartered Institute of Housing qualification and this could be something that the City of Bristol College could consider in the future;
  • These initiatives could feed in with community led housing projects such as the Fishponds project.


In response to questions from Board Members, MV/CO confirmed that:

  • It was recognised that there were a number of potential workers, many of them skilled, in the homeless community who didn’t have English as a first language and City of Bristol College was running a course in bricklaying combined with English as a foreign language and hoped to develop this type of provision;
  • Under-18s often found it difficult to access construction sites and these barriers were being addressed at national level by the Construction Industry Training Board;
  • The City of Bristol was collaborating with other colleges in South Gloucestershire and Weston to provide provision across the area;
  • As well as traditional skills, student would learn skills associated with the changing industry such as modular/sustainable buildings;
  • It was recognised that mental health was a big issue in the construction industry, and Galliford Try had engaged ambassadors and mental health nurses to support students;
  • It was recognised that there were challenges with marketing and demand, and especially encouraging women and communities that would not usually consider construction as a career path;
  • It was hoped that the introduction of T Levels would encourage students seeking an academic route into the industry.


MV welcomed Board Members to contact her outside the meeting with any further feedback.


The Board thanked MV and CO for the presentations and welcomed the close partnership between the college and the industry.



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