This is the fifth such academy now delivering skills to hundreds across UK

The contractor behind several important building projects in Liverpool has launched a skills academy in the city to equip dozens of local people with qualifications to get jobs in the construction industry.

Willmott Dixon has opened the Building Lives Academy adjacent to its project to build King’s Dock car park, for Liverpool City Council, in Monarch’s Quay with the intention of upskilling vulnerable young people, ex-offenders and individuals on licence from HMP Thorn Cross near Warrington so they can enjoy a rewarding career working on the region’s key building projects.

It comes as Willmott Dixon featured as the UK’s highest placed company in the FT’s inaugural list of European leaders for workplace diversity and inclusion, coming 3rd out of 700 organisations in the Diversity Leaders table of the most inclusive workplaces, which includes their work with the Building Lives academies.

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The academy is part of our Kings Dock site in Liverpool

The company has teamed up with the Liverpool charity Inside Connections Support CIC Inside to provide a training course delivering two weeks of classroom learning followed by two weeks of work experience at Kings Dock Car Park and Liverpool John Moores University construction sites.

Those attending the course will gain Level 1 certificates in Construction Operations and Health and Safety at Work alongside an all-important CSCS card so they can find work within Liverpool’s buoyant construction industry.

The first cohort has now completed their training, with every attendee finding full-time employment either with Willmott Dixon or its supply chain.

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Matthew Lemoine is one of the early beneficiaries of our new academy

One Building Lives Academy graduate, 31 year-old Matthew Lemoine, who lives in Liverpool and is on probation, said the course has made a real difference. He said:

“It’s transformed my confidence. When you’re on the inside you don’t have much confidence. You worry about the stigma you’ll face when you leave prison and that no one will give you an opportunity. This academy is giving people a chance. It really is changing lives.”

John Burton, Inside Connections founder, added: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the impact already of the Building Lives Academy. The support we have received from Willmott Dixon and their supply chain partners has been incredible, and their desire to offer individuals a second chance is absolutely commendable. In turn, the individuals have grabbed this with both hands and have excelled on site, showing pre-existing skills and gaining knowledge.”

The Building Lives academy is part of Willmott Dixon’s ‘purpose beyond profit’ ethos to play an active role in strengthening the well-being of society. It also aims to help the construction industry tackle its skills challenge, which was underlined recently when the CITB’s annual Construction Skills Network report recently predicted approximately 168,500 jobs will be created in construction over the next five years to meet demand.

Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the North:

“The construction industry has a skills shortage that will only be overcome through innovative ideas like our academy. You can enjoy a long and rewarding career in construction and I hope our academy will open up this opportunity for people in and around Liverpool to get the skills necessary to find a rewarding job delivering the building projects the region needs.”

Councillor Barbara Murray, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Employment, said: “I’ve seen first-hand the brilliant work Willmott Dixon is doing to use its construction schemes as a platform to create much need apprenticeships and upskill the city’s workforce. This Building Lives Academy is a brilliant development and does exactly what it says on the tin.

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People at the academy learn from our supply chain to equip them with the skills to get jobs

“Liverpool City Council is delighted to be working with a contractor that is fully committed to tackling the skills shortage in our economy and create life time employment opportunities for our young people. They are an exemplar company and fully embrace the city council’s inclusive growth agenda - which aims to maximise Liverpool’s regeneration and the opportunities it offers to the benefit of our people.”

Alongside current projects like the Kings Dock car park and also a new headquarters for Merseyside Police Force on St Anne's Street in Liverpool, the company has also been behind many of the city’s projects in recent time, including Victoria Street Car Park, Liverpool Food Hub, refurbishing Marwood Tower, delivering new secondary schools like Notre Dame Catholic College, Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College and Archbishop Blanch Secondary School, plus creating Venmore Dementia Hub which provides 60 en-suite bedrooms for the city’s most vulnerable people.