A project that will help ex-offenders find construction work has been launched, thanks to a partnership between Construction Youth Trust and BAM Nuttall.

‘Clean Slate Cymru’, a £357k two-year project co-funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) will:

·Help ex-offenders train and find employment in the sector via work placements, skills training, support and mentoring

·Help form new links between offender management services and construction firms

·Support the development of a toolkit and best practice guide to help employers offer continued support when the project ends.

The project name, ‘Clean Slate Cymru’ was chosen by inmates at HM Prison Cardiff, who wanted a title that reflected a fresh start.

The initiative comes at a time when more construction workers in Wales are vitally needed. CITB’s latest skills forecast estimates an annual average output growth rate of 4.6% compared with the national UK average of 1.3% for 2018 – 2022. It is predicted that there will be over 12,000 new jobs created over the next five years.

One person who has already benefited from the project is 17 year ex-offender Luke, who has since been offered a construction apprenticeship.

Luke had suffered from low self-confidence, lacked focus and found it hard to believe in himself. His aim was to leave his past behind and build a better future. Luke attended a construction course in partnership with Wates Residential South and the Cardiff Living team, one of the pilot projects of the ‘Clean Slate Cymru’ project.

The course saw Luke and seven other learners attend an 8-day course, which included a site visit to a Wates Cardiff Living site in Llanrumney. This provided an opportunity to speak to people already working in the industry and to receive employability skills sessions.

The course helped Luke to access employment opportunities in the construction industry and he completed a IOSH Working Safely accreditation, manual handling and undertake CSCS preparation.

Luke attended the course to gain construction skills as well as knowledge and access employment opportunities in the construction industry.

Luke successfully gained his CSCS card first time and when Wates invited him to attend an event, he impressed the Churngold Construction team so much that they offered him an apprenticeship on the Cardiff Living site.

Gareth Speers, Youth Mentor at Communities for Work: “Luke has been on the apprenticeship for five weeks now and it’s going really well. He thoroughly enjoys learning all the new skills and gaining his various digger licences. He shows great progress in his general outlook and ability to handle new situations in a much calmer and logical manner. Luke is extremely grateful for the support he received during the course and is on his way to a good career.”

Jemma Bridgeman, Wales Manager of Construction Youth Trust, commented: “The Clean Slate Cymru project will develop an integrated pathway into construction employment for people who have offended and help tackle the skills shortages in Wales.The project will provide meaningful training and support offering people who have offended real opportunities to turn their lives around and secure sustainable employment”.

Kevin Bennett, Head of People Development at BAM Nuttall, commented:

“Our Clean Slate Cymru project aims to provide efficient and effective pathways for the construction industry to engage with this pool of talent that have fallen off track. The project is led by a group of industry and ex-offender stakeholders to ensure success in providing information, advice and guidance on the most effective engagement models.”

Mark Bodger Strategic Partnerships Manager for CITB Wales, said: “Working together on this innovative new project, we want to help empower ex-offenders by giving them the skills they need to have a successful career in construction. Clean Slate Cymru comes at the right time, with the Welsh construction sector growing faster than any other part of the UK. This growth will provide job opportunities and we are delighted to help an initiative that benefits those looking to make a positive change and, in turn, help industry discover new talent.”

Find out more about the work of the Trust: www.constructionyouth.org.uk