New training scheme to meet dry lining workforce demand

A new training scheme is set to fill a skills shortage in dry lining while assisting residents looking for employment or a change of career.  

BuildBack 2021 sees people take on training at Sandwell College in the West Midlands and work experience with local construction companies to enable them to begin apprenticeships and jobs. 

The initiative has been set up by FIS, a not-for-profit body representing the finishes and interiors sector, with funding from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Further partners include the Department for Work and Pensions.

BuildBack 2021 is part of a national scheme by FIS to attract hundreds more people into the trade, who are out of work or looking for a change of career, or from under-represented groups in construction such as women or those from diverse backgrounds.   

Courses in dry lining started last month at the college, initially involving 28 places, with a view to progressing to an apprenticeship and ongoing NVQ professional development funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).    

CITB-funded research for the WMCA showed that in the West Midlands the construction workers in highest demand are in the interior fit-out and wood trades, with more than 15,000 needed across the Black Country, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas.  

The West Midlands region is also forecast to have the highest construction growth rate of anywhere in the country in the coming years, at 4.8%.  

Lorraine Gregory, CITB Senior Customer Engagement Manager for the Midlands, said: “We know there’s a skills shortage in the West Midlands for interior fit-out, and with the construction sector playing such a key role in the recovery BuildBack 2021 will help people enter a varied and exciting new career path.”  

Catherine Bullough, FIS Skills and Training Coordinator, said: “There’s real demand for finishes and interiors professionals in the West Midlands, and a strong pipeline of work including the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year makes this an exciting time to train up in a new trade.”  

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Retraining and upskilling hold the key to getting people back into work following the impact of the Covid pandemic, and that is why they are a cornerstone of my ambitious but practical plan to create 100,000 jobs in just two years. 

“By controlling the region’s training agenda, we can ensure local people are getting access to the skills they need to match employers’ needs. We know construction for example is going to continue to be a huge employer in the coming years, creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the West Midlands. So through schemes like BuildBack 2021 we can use our adult education budget to get people trained in the construction techniques that we know will get them into work.”