Willmott Dixon will further underline its objective to be a major enabler of growth and opportunity in Birmingham by investing £1m in a new academy that opens in January.

The company announced its intent earlier this year to create a skills academy capable of training 2,000 people a year and has since been looking at suitable locations to base the facility, which will provide important lifelong skills to employees and the wider community in Birmingham.

Now the company has confirmed it will open the Willmott Dixon 4Life Academy on 30 January in a 14,000 sq ft property at Electric Avenue in Aston. The new academy will offer training programmes ranging from short courses in electrical compliance and renewable technology to life-time skills such as NVQ and City & Guilds qualifications, accreditation on the Construction Skills Certification as well as supporting development of Willmott Dixon’s 22 Birmingham apprentices.

The Willmott Dixon 4Life Academy will also act as a National Centre of Excellence for the company across the UK and demonstrates it firm commitment to the West Midlands, where it employs nearly 1,000 people and is responsible for the long-term repairs and maintenance of 60,000 properties for Birmingham City Council.

Since 2009, Willmott Dixon has taken on 41 apprentices, of whom it has employed 18, and sponsored nearly 300 of its repairs team to get NVQs in building maintenance. It’s provided over 2,000 hours of work experience this year and is actively supporting local organisations like young person’s homeless charity St Basils and Acorns Children’s Hospice.

Mick Williamson, managing director for Willmott Dixon Partnerships, the Group’s repairs specialist responsible for maintaining the 60,000 city-owned properties says: “Skills play a crucial part in the prosperity of all cities and The Willmott Dixon 4Life Academy is a statement of our ambition to play a strategic role in the long-term growth of Birmingham.

“Training and development runs to the very core of Willmott Dixon; it matters in terms of our own people, and to individuals in communities that we work in. Through the 4Life Academy, our own employees as well as colleges, community groups and local residents will get access to a dedicated facility providing training that will help their long-term work opportunities. With nearly one million young people not in education, employment or training there is no better time to be creating these opportunities.

“The construction sector has been hit particularly hard by the current market conditions, and alongside creating a valuable community asset that will help develop local skills, the 4Life Academy will ensure our people continue to have the skills and expertise needed to deliver the quality service required in Birmingham and West Midlands.”

Students attending the 4Life Academy will be able to choose courses that include technical trade skills, emerging technologies, health and safety, supervisor skills and energy efficiency, as well as employability skills such as IT and CV writing. A series of community programmes and DIY sessions will also be run at the Centre.

The Willmott Dixon 4Life Academy will be working with City & Guilds and the British Plumbing Enterprise Council (BPEC) after it became one of the first construction companies approved as a registered BPEC training centre provider.