Willmott Dixon Interiors has launched a pop-up skills centre called the Building Lives Academy to help connect local people with construction jobs in Waltham Forest as part of its project to transform the Grade 2* EMD Cinema into a multi-purpose entertainment venue.
It comes as recent resident figures in Waltham Forest show that 10% of the borough’s working age population are claiming Universal Credit, which is higher than the London wide average of 8%, with a third of the borough accessing employment support.
Willmott Dixon Interiors has teamed up with specialist industry training provider PAS Direct to equip local people with skills and qualifications to find their way back to work. Those benefiting from training at the academy come from industries such as a construction, hospitality, accounting and financial services.
So far, the Building Lives Academy has delivered two sessions at the Waltham Forest Adult Learning Centre to support 16 long-term NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) into employment, education or training.
After completing their courses at the academy, participants gain qualifications in Health and Safety in Construction and NOCN Level 1 which enables them to get their CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card. With a Level 1 qualification remaining permanently on their record, future CSCS cards do not need the participant to carry out any further H&S training.
Out of the first cohort of 16, two had been unemployed for more than three years, and following the learning, seven people now have jobs.
Waltham Forest participant Andrea Armstrong, said, “The course has taught me so much, such as manual handling and health and safety, along with other useful things which will apply to my daily life and also my safety working on sites and other places. This course was very informative and the handouts make the course more appealing. I would definitely recommend this course to others.”
Willmott Dixon Interiors’ role at the former EMD cinema revival is part of the Waltham Forest’s legacy commitment as the London Borough of Culture in 2019 to place culture at the heart of its community. The venue will become a 950-seat comedy hub run by Soho Theatre, and will provide a vital boost to the local evening and night-time economy with an estimated £34-52m injection over the next decade, support existing businesses and residents as well as creating jobs for local people.
Mike Devaney, EMD Cinema construction manager at Willmott Dixon Interiors said: “We are proud to be part of the vision to transform this site into a vibrant and creative venue with its own cultural identity in the heart of Walthamstow. The project also allows us to build a legacy for the local community by upskilling young people and improving their job prospects with initiatives like the Building Lives Academy.
“It is part of our belief that we have a purpose beyond profit – the energy, passion and commitment of our people to strengthen the wellbeing of society beyond the buildings we create. Our Building Lives Academy in Walthamstow will give so many local people a platform to enjoy a long-term career in construction.”
Councillor Simon Miller, Member for Economic Growth and Housing Development said: “I am delighted to see that the Building Lives Academy is supporting the creation of local jobs. Connecting People with Jobs is one of the four immediate priorities set out within our Public Service Strategy and we are determined more than ever to work with our partners to ensure we are providing training, upskilling opportunities and securing local jobs for local people.”
This is the latest in a network of Building Lives academies Willmott Dixon has set up across the country to upskill people local to their projects. Other areas to benefit from an academy include Croydon, Kingston, Liverpool, Eastbourne and also HMP Elmley in Kent.