Stepney residents complete local construction trainee scheme [Audio]

Building Futures Attendees Celebrate. Photo: Alex Bishop

Sixteen Tower Hamlets residents completed a construction training scheme in Stepney, as part of a drive to help people long-term unemployed get back to work.

The £200m renovation of Ocean Estate is developed by Wates Building Contractors in conjunction with Tower Hamlets Council and East Thames Development Consortium.1200 existing council homes are being refurbished, alongside a new building project.

The two week placement taught building skills and aimed to give attendees the confidence to progress into full employment. The national Building Futures fortnight scheme has been brought to the Ocean Estate in Stepney by the construction company Wates Living Space and their partners Ixion Holdings Ltd and Skills Centre Ltd.

Michael Rover, 51, told East London Lines how rewarding it has been to do the scheme in his own area after being unemployed.

“Walking down the high street in the morning in the uniform and saying morning to people; it makes me feel part of the world. There’s hope there, it makes me feel like I’m heading towards something and the family are pleased. You can’t let it go, you’ve got to grab it with both hands while you can.”

Falling construction output has been indentified by the Office of National Statistics as a key factor in bringing the UK back into recession this week

After giving each trainee their certificate, Wates Deputy Chairman James Wates told East London Lines that as well as finding good workers within the communities they work in, the scheme champions the construction industry.


The scheme in Stepney is the 46th project from Building Futures, which has had a 57% success rate of getting its trainees into employment or further training. Mr Wates said the success is down to the trainees: “The people who come onto the course are not pushed onto them; they want to get back into employment”.

Having completed the scheme, the trainees can now sit their CSCS health and safety card test, which will qualify them to work on construction sites. They will also receive guidance in applying for work or further training.

Trainee Errol Mortimer, 51, values the assistance the CSCS card will give him when applying for jobs.


Jorgi Sturt, 19, has previous experience of the construction industry but has still found it hard to find work and has found the range of skills developed in the week useful.


Stacey Lock, 21, believes the experience has been very valuable as it has given her the opportunity to demonstrate her skills on the job.

Other  employment and training initiatives from Tower Hamlets Council include Skillsmatch, a job brokerage scheme run for free by the council which aims to give a service equivalent to a professional employment agency.

The East Thames Development Consortium have numerous development projects with provision for affordable housing in Tower Hamlets, East London and Essex. These include the New Union Wharf regeneration in Tower Hamlets and sites in Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Havering. As Part of the Triathlon joint venture they are  involved with building and managing the 2012 Olympics Athletes Village and turning them into affordable housing when the games finish.

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