FutureIN wins Apprenticeship Initiative of the Year at Construction News Workforce Awards 2023
Local initiative transforming the lives of young people in need gains national award
A Cambridge programme providing construction training and apprenticeships for young people at risk of homelessness has been awarded the Apprenticeship Initiative of the Year Award at this year’s prestigious Construction News (CN) Workforce Awards.
The influential CN Workforce Awards acknowledge the outstanding achievements of those dedicated to making the construction industry a great place to work and celebrates the people striving to make construction a more inclusive industry.
Achieving this national accolade recognises FutureIN’s important contribution to providing life-changing opportunities and an exceptional support system for vulnerable young people in Greater Cambridge which enables them to begin careers in the construction industry.
Not only does the programme match employers and candidates, it also provides pre-apprenticeship training and ongoing support and brings the Cambridge property and construction community together to offer the trainees and apprentices a stable and independent future.
The judges were deeply moved by the testimonials of current apprentices on the programme, describing them as compelling evidence of the programme’s impact. They praised FutureIN, and TrAC, which manages the programme on behalf of the partnership, for its person-centred approach, which addresses the holistic needs of individuals, and commended its fantastic support system that empowers young people to build confidence and pursue successful careers in construction.
Set up by individuals from Howard Group, Morgan Sindall and TrAC, the idea for this unique programme was driven by the stark contrast of the wealth and inequality in Cambridge. FutureIN also helps to address the recruitment and skills shortage in the construction sector which currently has an estimated 41,000 vacancies (ONS, 2022).
There are currently six young people on the programme. They include Jack, an apprentice formworker working on Howard Group’s Unity Campus project for MJS; Shannon, working for T Clarke on the same project training to be an electrician; and Jeffrey, an apprentice site supervisor who is looking for his next site having completed his placement at Unity Campus.
Kieran is working for Barnes on a scheme in central Cambridge, Chris has just begun a placement with Kier, and Charlene, who is working for Morgan Sindall, was recently commended at the Young Builder of the Year awards. One trainee said: “FutureIN makes you believe you can do it. They don’t judge you; they just help you, and suddenly you’re doing it!”. Another said: “FutureIN is always there for support and guidance. They’re currently helping me with my housing”.
SDC, RG Carter, and Wates are also supporting the programme, as are developers Brookgate who, along with Howard Group, helped with start-up funding. LandAid, the UK’s property and construction charity for the homeless, are also significant donors.
Bob Ensch, Programme Lead, FutureIN, said: “People often have a mistaken stereotype of who a homeless person is and why they don’t have a place to call home. The young people we work with are often care leavers who have experienced an unstable early life through no fault of their own.
“The young people on the programme are impressively resilient, and it’s having a transformative impact on their lives. FutureIN is not just about giving a young person in need a job; it’s about involving them in the success and growth of our city, building their confidence, and giving them the chance of a secure future. Winning this award demonstrates the initiative is working and hopefully enables us to change more young people’s lives in 2024.”
More than 120,000 young people in the UK are homeless or at risk of homelessness – 12,200 of whom are in the East of England. At least 1,823 people were homeless in Cambridgeshire on any given night, with 45% being children (Shelter, 2022).
Nicholas Bewes, Chief Executive of property investment and development company Howard Group, added: “I am delighted that FutureIN is beginning to receive the recognition it deserves. I hope the award will encourage others in the property and construction industry to get involved as we look to provide opportunities for young people who perhaps don’t have the chances in life we can so easily take for granted. My vision is that every Greater Cambridge construction project employs at least one FutureIN apprentice from this point onwards.
“Now, more than ever, we need to work collaboratively to confront the reality of youth homelessness in our city. If we work together, on projects such as this, which bring together local businesses, the public sector and charities, we can help to create a society where no young person is left behind.”
The programme also has wider benefits to the public purse. Homelessness charity Crisis estimates that £34,518 of public money is spent each year per homeless person.
Julia Nix OBE, East Anglia District Manager, Department for Work and Pensions, who received her honour for services to tackling youth unemployment in the region, said:“I am delighted that the FutureIN programme, specialising in helping the most vulnerable 16-25 year olds gain an apprenticeship in construction, has been awarded ‘Apprenticeship Initiative of the Year’. FutureIN offers a new and workable option for young people on the margins, very much in keeping with the DWP ethos of inclusivity and equality for all. With compassion and commitment, a tailored, non-judgemental approach is taken, giving our young people a safe and supportive environment – often for the first time in their lives – to make positive change.
“I personally couldn’t think of any other project being more worthy of this award as it is the most unique and employer led initiative I have come across.”
Construction, property, and development companies who would like to get involved with FutureIN, should visit www.futurein.org.uk for more details, or phone Radhiya Lovatt on 07470 609485.