EXPERT construction company Esh Group has launched a new skills training academy to build the workforce of the future.

The purpose-built facility – an investment of £1.2m – at Esh’s County Durham base is home to a suite of training rooms where trainees, existing staff and teams from outside organisations will learn the skills needed for next generation construction work.

Named in honour of former Esh Group chief executive Brian Manning, who passed away in 2017, the Academy will host everyone from apprentices through to graduates and long-serving workers.

Brian helped to steer Esh Group’s longstanding commitment to training and development of new and existing staff – and the Academy is an extension of that ethos.

On hand to open the facility were Esh Group’s Louise Lamb, group accounts manager, and Steve Wilkie, regional managing director – North East.

Louise, 45, and Steve, 47, have both worked for Esh since leaving school and demonstrate the firm’s approach to growing its own talent.

They were joined by 19-year-old Megan Lambert, a trainee quantity surveyor, who came to Esh in 2016 as its 150th apprentice. The business has seen 180 apprentices progress through programmes.

Members of Brian Manning’s family also played a part in the opening.

Andy Radcliffe, chief executive of Esh Group, said: “The whole Esh Group team is excited to welcome people to the Brian Manning Training Academy.

“It represents an investment in the future of our industry, not just Esh Group’s own capabilities.

“As well as for our staff, the Academy will be a resource for partners, clients and suppliers who want to build and refresh essential skills.

“To have Louise, Steve and Megan at the opening is important as it marks Esh Group’s dedication to nurturing talent and shows you can build a rewarding, long-term career in our business.

“It’s also fitting the Academy will bear Brian’s name. As a champion of people realising their ambitions, his ethos will inform all the activity that takes place here.”

In addition to its in-house training division, Esh Group works with schools, colleges and universities as well as training providers to make sure it has the skills it needs to deliver a range of work – from multi-million pound civil engineering projects to the building of new homes.

A recent report from the sector’s key skills body – the Construction Industry Training Board – shows more than 150,000 construction jobs are set to be created over the next five years, but the Federation of Master Builders warns the present shortage of skilled workers is the worst on record.

Esh Group’s investment is a practical response to that challenge.

Louise Lamb said: “I was delighted to play a part in opening the Academy.

“I’ve built my career at Esh Group and the business has been hugely supportive of me – providing me with training and routes to progress.

“I know the same opportunities and more will be provided to future generations through this investment.”