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Demand for new homes could provide a jobs and skills boost for Lancashire’s economy

Aston Services Group

Demand for new homes could provide a jobs and skills boost for Lancashire’s economy, according to a local business leader.

Alistair Clayton, of Leyland-based Aston Services Group, said research had shown the industry needs to recruit 400,000 people a year to meet the demand of the country’s housing and infrastructure projects.

The group is the sponsor of the Construction Business of the Year category at this year’s Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, which is now open for applications.

In 2015, the cleaning, maintenance and security firm won two prizes at the awards under the name Cleanall Services, it changed its name following a merger in 2016.

Alistair said: “The construction industry has a great opportunity to invest in a new generation of highly-skilled workers in trades such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and joiners, all of which are in short supply.

“The industry has a chance to boost the number of apprentices it is taking on to fill the skills gap which is being left, and Lancashire construction firms are well-placed to make the most of it.

“When you add the opportunities which large-scale infrastructure programmes offer, there is a real need for long-term investment in this industry and we have seen the effects of this in the increase in the size and number of builders cleans we are being contracted to.”

The report by consultants Arcadis showed two million people would have to join the sector over five years if the national housing and infrastructure construction backlog was to be overcome.

It calculates nearly 371,000 recruits will be needed every year to meet housing targets, while infrastructure projects will require around 36,000 annually.

The BIBAs, which has 18 prize categories open for applications from Lancashire until the end of March, held its boot camp workshop for aspiring entrants.

It saw former winners and industry experts provide tips to business leaders about how to make the most of the BIBAs application process.

All entries will be eligibility-checked and whittled down to a shortlist for each category which will be announced on May 2.

The shortlisted firms will face the judging panel in a face-to-face interview, which get underway on May 15, and those which make the finalists’ shortlist will then receive a visit to their business from the judges as part of a second round of judging starting in June.

Last September, the winners of the BIBAs including Mike Peters, the founder of Universal Products Limited, who won the lifetime achievement award, Lancastrian of the Year, and Altham furniture firm, The Senator Group, which was named Business of the Year.