School build programme could provide apprenticeship opportunities

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Apprenticeships, children’s workshops and work experience opportunities will be available to young people in MK as part of Milton Keynes Council’s new school build programme.

The council signed up to Scape last year, a programme which aims to reduce costs and make the employment of contractors for projects such as school buildings more streamlined.

Scape, which is owned by councils, also aims to involve the community through training schemes and school projects.

The use of Scape means the school build programme will involve local businesses, young people and communities.

The first five school projects planned over the next two years are expected to provide 10 new apprenticeships, 138 weeks of work experience for over 18s, 138 weeks of work experience for under 18s, workshops for more than 600 local children, site visits for more than 800 local children, university research projects, short course and NVQ qualifications and a commitment that at least 40 per cent of the capital spend on each project is to be spent with local firms within 20 miles of the site.

Mark Dolling, MKC’s capital programme director, said: “Last year we took a good look at how we engage with contractors through our procurement process, being mindful of the size of our school build programme in coming years. 

“It was critical that we were able to secure high quality design and construction partners ­but we were looking for more than that.

“We wanted our substantial investment of more than £100m to create opportunities for local firms to be involved and for young people and local communities to be actively engaged in what we were planning and creating.”

Cllr Rob Middleton, councillor for resources and commercialism, said: “I am delighted that our use of Scape will deliver these excellent opportunities for local businesses, young people and communities. 

“This is a great example of intelligent procurement – securing value for money, high quality new schools but doing so in a way that provides business for local firms, work to local people and education and work experience for local children and young people.”

The council’s major partners in school build are Willmott Dixon and Kier Construction.

At a recent ‘meet the buyer’ more than 100 local companies interested in working on school build projects attended including bricklayers, flooring contractors, electrical, cleaners and IT suppliers.