Morgan Sindall Construction brings upskilling initiative to Aylesbury

Morgan Sindall Construction brings upskilling initiative to Aylesbury

A multi-purpose training and learning facility has been established in Aylesbury as part of Morgan Sindall Construction’s commitment to supporting the communities in which it operates.

The Knowledge Quad, which is the third of its kind in the country and the first in the South East, will create an essential link between the construction industry and education providers to ensure that curricula align with employer requirements.

The stand-alone facility is located at Kingsbrook Secondary School, a project currently being delivered by Morgan Sindall Construction’s Northern Home Counties business, so that trainees and students can benefit from learning on a live construction site. Able to accommodate up to 30 trainees at a time, the Knowledge Quad will provide multi-purpose courses for local people that focus on skills, education, and employment. This will include training and lessons for college brickwork students, sub-contractors on site or individuals looking to reskill and explore new career options.

The Knowledge Quad offers open access to training providers. The ABC Assessment Centre, a company dedicated to delivering high quality training on the latest innovations in modern masonry, is already making great use of the facility and plans are underway to bring in providers specialising in pre-employment and entry level training.

In order to better understand the region’s skill requirements, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) is one of the project’s key stakeholders. Morgan Sindall Construction has also been working with partners including the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), The ABC Assessment Centre and Buckinghamshire College Group. This close collaboration has helped to identify and address a shortage of skilled bricklayers in the Aylesbury area. Through utilising the resources available from each stakeholder, Morgan Sindall Construction was able to ensure a quick turnaround of the Knowledge Quad and begin providing targeted courses and educational programmes.

This initiative will be implemented at future Morgan Sindall Construction projects in the Northern Home Counties area to ensure that as many communities as possible benefit from the social value and construction skills generated by having a local Knowledge Quad.

Creating a positive difference within the communities that Morgan Sindall Construction operates in, is a vital part of their responsible business plan. The Morgan Sindall Community Investment Group supports project teams in the delivery of local community engagement projects.

David Rowsell, Northern Home Counties area director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “Establishing the first Knowledge Quad in the SouthEast at the Kingsbrook Secondary School development has been a great way to add important value to the local community. Having this facility onsite has meant that we could work with the project’s stakeholders to address a long-term lack of construction skills in the Aylesbury area while simultaneously offering local residents a pathway into a rewarding career. Whilst also helping to address the shortage of young people joining the industry and the growing skills shortage we face.

“The impetus to set up this dedicated training facility stems from our commitment to enriching the communities in which we’re operating as much as possible. Thanks to the proven success of the Knowledge Quad initiative, we will be rolling it out to other projects in the Northern Home Counties area moving forward.”

Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, commented: “The Knowledge Quad is an innovative new space that opens a door of opportunity to Buckinghamshire residents.

“Having a space that bridges the gap between education and practical learning will help meet the upskilling requirements that are needed within the area. We are proud that Morgan Sindall Construction has selected our area, and we look forward to seeing the community benefits.”

Nicola Hieatt, Industry Placement Officer at Buckinghamshire College Group, said: “Our students have been using the Knowledge Quad since the start of the academic year, which is proving invaluable to not only their technical studies but is also having a positive effect on their transferable skills.

“The fact that the students are being able to learn their skill safely, in a site environment where a large percentage of them wish to be once they qualify, is fantastic for their future. We find ourselves in the unique position to offer this to not only the higher-level brickwork students, but also to the introductory level from January 2022 onwards. Previously, these students would have needed to source their own work experience which can prove difficult at their age.”

Simon Livett, Centre Manager at The ABC Assessment Centre, said: “Since starting to run the Centre’s courses at the Knowledge Quad in October, we have noticed improvement in engagement, participation and results.

“The Knowledge Quad functions as a tangible link between the skills acquired at college and the reality of the brick trade for Bucks College Group students. Evidently, this can only benefit full-time diploma students, who traditionally aren’t afforded the same access to practical training as apprentices. As a result, the upskilling we’re doing with these students makes them more employable, which will enhance the construction workforce in the local area and benefit the entire wider community in the long run.”

Kingsbrook Secondary School is a £35m development Morgan Sindall Construction is delivering in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council which has been procured through the Southern Construction Framework. The build will see a brand-new low-carbon secondary school built in Aylesbury’s flagship, nature friendly Kingsbrook housing development.

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