Leading regeneration business Vistry Partnerships has had its plans for a major new construction skills centre at Meridian Water approved by Enfield Council, paving the way for hundreds of skills and training opportunities for local people.
Vistry Partnerships is already working in partnership with the council to bring forward Meridian One – the first 300 homes of this major regeneration scheme, which in total is earmarked to deliver 10,000 new homes.
As part of its commitment to enhancing local skills and training opportunities throughout the duration of the project, Enfield Council and Vistry Partnerships pledged to create the new Skills Academy, which will be located at the southern boundary of the Meridian One site adjacent to Leeside Road.
The Skills Academy will provide opportunities for local people to gain the skills and qualifications needed to pursue a career in construction, as well as learning about sustainable construction methods, including how to retrofit buildings to higher energy insultation standards.
Totalling 948 sqm, the Skills Academy will feature a reception area, canteen, offices, visitor centre, classrooms, workshops and an external area for outside training exercises. Designed by Hawkins\Brown, the building will reflect the site’s former industrial heritage, with pitched roofs and the use of timber and corrugated steel.
The Meridian Skills Academy has a number of local skills and employment targets, including:
• 100% of all job opportunities to be promoted to under-represented groups and listed through local outreach programmes
• A minimum of 20% of people employed on site to be local
• 50% of people employed on site to represent Enfield’s BAME demographics
• To exceed the average number of women working in construction and professional roles on a project of this scale
• To provide 45 apprenticeships which result in secure employment
• To deliver 24 pre-apprenticeships and pre-employment courses, supporting 720 local residents and totalling 1,440 training weeks
• To deliver 360 work placement weeks, supporting 180 local residents
Commenting, Matthew Taylor, Managing Director at Vistry Partnerships London Developments, said: “Meridian One is a perfect example of true regeneration – not only are we working with Enfield Council to build new homes and breathe new life into a redundant area of land, we’re also delivering on-the-ground skills and training opportunities for the local community, meaning many more people can benefit from the wider regeneration. In the coming months and years, the Meridian Skills Academy is going to provide many different opportunities for people to get into construction, whatever their background or age. It’s about giving local people more chances to learn new skills, or upskill or retrain, and getting them excited about the construction industry in the process.”
Councillor Nesil Caliskan, Leader of Enfield Council, said: “I am thrilled that the Meridian Water Skills Academy, delivered through a partnership between Enfield Council and Vistry Partnerships, was approved by planning committee. This project will provide local residents with training and skills opportunities opening the doors to new careers in the construction industry. Edmonton residents will be the primary beneficiaries of Meridian Water, and the Skills Academy is yet another example of how local people will benefit from the development. Meridian Water is more than new homes and I look forward to seeing the Skills Academy operational next year”.
Tom Noonan, Partner at Hawkins\Brown said: “The idea for a construction skills academy emerged from a collaborative process between Enfield Council, Vistry Partnerships and ourselves at Hawkins\Brown, and is central to our long-term vision to embody social value within phase 1 of Meridian Water where we are also working with HTA Design on the wider masterplan. This educational facility will focus on creating skills and pathways to sustainable employment for local people and is the first of several community amenities that will be delivered by Meridian Water.”
“Our design is for a medium-term temporary building that will occupy a site earmarked for later residential-led development. As part of our commitment to circular economy principals the modular and demountable buildings are designed to be repurposed and reused on other sites as the masterplan evolves. Elements of the construction will be completed by students of the new academy, maximising the opportunity for training created by the project.”
Since launching in 2017, over 520 learners have gained work-ready construction qualifications from Vistry Partnerships’ Skills Academies, resulting in 130 people securing immediate employment above the minimum wage. The innovative training programme is designed to encourage more people into construction, whilst combatting the skills shortage affecting the industry.
Delivered nationwide, each academy provides onsite training, mentoring and skills development, creating opportunities for local people (often long-term unemployed) to gain work experience and vocational qualifications including NVQs, CSCS cards and other safety qualifications – a crucial first step into the industry.
Often working with local authorities, Vistry Partnerships runs the courses with the support of supply chain partners, and to date more than 1,500 live-site experience workshops and community engagement programmes have been held, meaning 3,000 community members have benefitted.
Other opportunities created so far include apprenticeships, traineeships, mentoring, CITB ATO approved courses, Armed Forces Resettlement training and City & Guilds.