As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, dozens of construction apprenticeships in Hackney are set to be cut from an award-winning scheme, following the withdrawal of key funder the Construction Industry Training Board.
Building Lives, which employs 500 apprentices in ten training academies across London, and about fifty in Hackney, is urgently seeking £2 million to plug the gap left by the CITB’s funding withdrawal, to allow it to continue training programmes for unemployed Londoners.
The charity’s founder, East London businessman Stephen Rawlings, who has invested £1 million into the charity he founded in 2010, has said the decision is based on “a technicality”. Only construction employers can receive grant money from the CITB, but since Building Lives has severed ties with the construction contractor Lakehouse, it no longer qualifies.
“Time really is of the essence now, we have reacted quickly to redesign our model to attract additional funding so that Building Lives can continue with our goal; to support unemployed Londoners into proper construction jobs. But it’s an extremely worrying time for Building Lives staff and learners,” Rawlings said.
The CITB has said it is committed to support 55 apprentices already training with Building Lives who were enrolled with the CITB before January 2015 until they complete their training.
Carl Rhymer, Delivery and Customer Engagement Director at CITB said: “Unfortunately because Building Lives is not an in-scope employer, it does not fit within the grant scheme rules. This means that we are unable to provide grants for a new intake if building lives apprentices. However, in the best interest of the learners we have committed to support all apprentices currently training with building lives and enrolled with CITB by January 2015 until they complete their training.”
A group of Hackney apprentices have joined the Unite union in an effort to lobby the construction industry to support Building Lives:
The union said in a statement: “We believe that the construction industry should get its act together and ensure that the next generation of construction workers are trained and given employment.”