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LABC Academy seeks students who want money, professional status and no debt

19 Sep 23 A one-off training and recruitment drive to combat the shortage of building control officers is being consolidated into a permanent scheme.

The Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Academy has been set up to continue the work started by a government-funded capacity-building programme run by LABC in 2022 to support the implementation of the new Building Safety Act.

LABC’s board decided to fund a permanent Academy to keep the initiative going.

Starting this month, LABC is looking to bring in at least 15 recruits to place into immediate jobs with local councils across England and Wales. One LABC-funded trainee will go into each LABC region in England, with another four going to Wales to support the Welsh government’s building safety programme.

Trainee building control surveyors will receive two-year fixed-term contracts from LABC, secondments into councils for on-the-job training and mentoring, fully funded vocational qualifications and study time, and eventual official validation to become registered building inspectors. 

Applications open this month and candidate assessment centres start on 11th and 12th October.

LABC chief executive Lorna Stimpson said: “We keep being told that young people and others don’t want careers in construction, but that’s definitely not our experience. We had more than 1,000 applicants for last year’s intake.

“Candidates were clearly drawn to the potential in building control, and they liked the fact that we provide training and work with a strong sense of purpose. Careers in public service building control are at the front line of safety, sustainability and social value.

“We now want to invest in the recruitment and training of the next cohort of candidates. For the lucky 15, we will take care of all their education and training needs as well as employing them to work in a local authority near where they live. Trainees will earn while they learn and will be mentored by experienced professionals supervising their practical on-the-job training.

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“Through the new Academy, LABC will deliver a steady stream of recruits into public service building control over the coming years. This initiative is no longer dependent on  government funding – we are making this investment ourselves to support our members and to secure the future of building control. We want to make building control a shining beacon in construction, showing others how we can work together to address skills shortages across the industry.

 “Our trainees will gain level 4 and 5 building control qualifications and will be well on their way towards gaining their degree, gaining opportunities for promotion and salary increases at work, and becoming fully qualified chartered surveyors or building engineers, making a real difference to the built environment and to everyone who lives and works in our buildings.

 “Best of all, our Academy candidates will qualify with no student debt, will have been paid a competitive salary from day one and will have great future earning potential.”

 Starting salaries for 18-year-old school and college leavers entering the Academy range from £19,500 to £23,500 a year, depending on location. More experienced career changers start on higher salaries, and all trainees are provided with all their PPE (personal protective equipment), IT equipment and software, and professional membership of the CIOB, CABE and RICS.

Last year’s original cohort of recruits are in line to be fully qualified in early 2026.

Of the 2022 cohort, 20% were school leavers, 30% came from other careers (including the armed forces), and 50% came from other construction backgrounds such as building trades. Most candidates were under 24 years old. About half were from ethnic backgrounds and 29% were female.

Rahul Ali, a trainee building surveyor seconded to work with London Borough of Tower Hamlets and one of the original group to benefit from the government-funded scheme in 2022, said: “Since starting with LABC, I haven’t looked back. It’s a brilliant mix of working in the office and going on site; no two days are the same and there’s always something new and interesting to see. Having joined this profession with no prior experience, I can confidently say that LABC has provided me with an amazing opportunity that I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in the built environment and who wants to make a difference to their community.”

By April 2024, building control will become a regulated profession. The Building Safety Regulator will establish a register of building inspectors that opens next month (October 2023) – all practising building control professionals will have to be registered by April 2024.

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