The Princess Royal has formally opened a new apprenticeship training centre for house builders.

The new National House Building Council’s (NHBC) Training Hub, created to serve the East of England, is intended to help address the skills shortage in the industry.

The hub, near Histon Football Club, Impington, can train 80 apprentices all year round, enabling them to qualify in as little as 14 months. The centre has classrooms, welfare, and catering facilities and sets out to provide apprentices with a realistic outdoor working environment. It is initially focusing on bricklaying.

Princess Anne (pictured meeting staff at the training hub), also met bricklaying apprentices who demonstrated the various stages needed to build a house and emphasised the need to encourage more people into house building.

The Home Builders Federation estimates 2,500 bricklayers are needed for every 10,000 homes built.

Darryl Stewart, responsible for NHBC’s apprentice training programme and hubs, said: “We are honoured to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to the NHBC Training Hub in Cambridge.

“Bricklaying is at the heart of house building and a hugely important skill. In recent years, house builders have found it more challenging to recruit people for a range of reasons.

“Historically, it’s an industry which has been perceived as being male-dominated, and currently, it’s also facing the challenge of an ageing workforce. This means we must find ways to encourage people from all walks of life to join the sector which requires an extra 225,000 construction workers by 2027 to meet demand.

“The purpose-built NHBC Training Hub offers a realistic work environment and we’re seeing apprentices completing their training in just 14 months and many with distinctions.

“It’s a standout difference from the 30-month timescale more traditional learning routes take. What’s more, NHBC’s retention rate after completion is an industry-leading 85 per cent, compared to the industry average of 55 per cent.

“An apprenticeship in the house-building industry is a pathway into a range of rewarding and well-paid careers that can make a real difference to the available future workforce.”

In partnership with The Hill Group, the hub is part of a national growing network of training facilities by NHBC in its role as insurance and warranty provider.

Tom Hill, executive director for The Hill Group, said: “It is a privilege to work with the NHBC to deliver this excellent facility. The NHBC Training Hub will prove to be a great success in training the next generation of bricklayers, making a positive impact on the lives of the apprentices who have chosen this rewarding career in this fast-paced and ever-evolving industry.”

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