Modular housing manufacturer ilke Homes launches academy in Knaresborough

Modular housing manufacturer ilke Homes has launched its first onsite academy to train the next generation of housebuilders and engineers in manufacturing homes in factories, to help ease the current construction skills and housing crisis.

Dave Sheridan examines machinery at the academy.

The ilke Academy, based in Knaresborough, says it will hire people from all walks of life, including school-leavers, military veterans and ex-offenders.

The business also wants to encourage more women into the sector.

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These groups are under-represented in traditional construction and manufacturing, the firm said.

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman of ilke Homes, said: “We have a responsibility to help people from all backgrounds find employment and for too long, the construction sector has sat on its hands while the skills shortage has hit crisis point.

“Creating local jobs and helping get more women and young people into the sector have to be priorities.

“The government has ambitious targets to build new homes and only through investment in factories will this realistically happen.

“Investment will only flow if the right skills exist and that’s why we are keen to collaborate with everyone in the industry.”

The ilke Academy will be based next to the ilke Homes factory in Knaresborough, which currently has the capacity to produce 2,000 homes a year.

It will enable new recruits and existing staff to learn a range of new skills including engineering, plumbing, manufacturing, carpentry and design.

The academy will welcome 162 new recruits and further the training of current ilke Homes employees, with applications open to 17-year olds through to those extending their career beyond retirement.

Mr Sheridan said: “Offsite manufacturing gives people a genuine, clear career path together with the opportunity to play a part in disrupting UK housebuilding.

“Anyone, be they a school-leaver seeking their first full-time job or a reformed offender, should have the chance to be trained – not least when they can help end the housing crisis by building beautiful, high-quality homes.”

More than four out of five, 83 per cent, of all ex-offenders are unable to find a job one year after release, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The ilke Homes management team hopes that by setting up local networks with a local men’s and a local women’s prison, they can prevent re-offending.

The business is also a part of The 5% Club, a membership group tackling youth poverty set up by Balfour Beatty boss Leo Quinn.

It hopes to use the academy to help tackle some of the negative perceptions young people have towards construction by showcasing some of the emerging skills and technologies used in modern methods of construction.

Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, said: “It’s no secret that the construction industry has struggled to cope with the ongoing skills shortage.

“The launch of the ilke Academy represents a huge step in the right direction in teaching new skills for local people from all walks of life, creating new and exciting jobs, whilst boosting our local economy.”

He added: “I am delighted to see that Yorkshire has established itself as a hotbed of housing innovation.

“This will be vital as we continue to reverse the brain drain that the capital has swallowed up and ensure that we can attract top talent to the region.”