Karl Hick, chief executive of the parent group of housebuilder and developer Larkfleet Homes, continues his series of exclusive articles for Eastern New Home Buyer. In this article he looks at the importance of investing in training and skills development to safeguard the future of the housebuilding industry and how investing in local economies has a positive impact on the communities where new homes are being provided.
Why house builders must invest in training
As one of the top 50 house builders in the UK, Larkfleet Homes has established a strong reputation for its innovative technologies and construction methods in providing high-quality homes across the East Midlands and the East of England.
According to the Home Builders’ Federation, building a new home is the equivalent of providing full-time work for more than four people. Larkfleet is currently building about 250 new homes each year – which is good news for skilled trades people and support staff we recruit in these areas and for their local economy. We have a policy of not just employing local people directly within our own workforce but also of placing contracts, whenever possible, with local contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers.
An important part of our commitment to the local economy is investment in young people. We need to provide them with training and skills development opportunities to prepare them for careers in the housebuilding and construction industries or in other sectors of their choosing.
From our perspective, continuous investment in training is essential for the future of this industry. Construction and home building, in particular, are becoming high-tech operations driven by innovations which deliver energy-efficient solutions and cost-effective maintenance. The industry will increasingly require more of the brightest and best young people in all trades and professions.
Our business is changing and the type of people we will need to support successful housebuilding developments in the future will range from ‘hands-on’ craft and trades people across all our construction sites to engineers, scientists and technicians who will shape the industry’s future in research and development laboratories.
At Larkfleet, we have an enviable record for building quality homes and helping communities to grow and develop. We also have a history of developing young people – the building professionals of tomorrow – to achieve their potential.
We invest continually in training and developing our staff and recruit young local apprentices who acquire valuable, transferable knowledge, skills and experience in energy-efficient construction during their time with us.
Unlike many other house builders, we continued to invest in and support an apprentice training programme throughout the recession in recent years – a time when many firms found it necessary to cut back. This commitment in itself underlines the importance that Larkfleet attaches to training young people within our local community.
We have also recruited local graduates who we are providing with business experience opportunities through structured training programmes. It is our hope and intention that the next generation of senior managers and construction professionals will emerge from these and other initiatives to help people to build their career in the ever-changing housebuilding industry.
Larkfleet is one of three employer sponsors of the new Greater Peterborough University Technical College (UTC) and is contributing support and expertise to take technical and business learning to the next level in this new environment which blends academic and practical learning.
The GPUTC – it is due to open in September 2016 – will provide local students with a solid foundation of hands-on experience together with educational learning and skills development to increase their job and career potential.
We believe house builders must invest in training and provide young people with the skills that will shape the future for the UK construction industry. Otherwise the industry has no future.