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Research reveals “social value” of schemes to help young people access the construction industry

Construction industry will benefit from a research collaboration with LSBU which reveals the real value of investment in training
13 May 2015

Schemes to begin young people on a career in the construction industry return social value equivalent to £6.51 for every £1 invested – a study by London South Bank University (LSBU) has revealed.

By developing a Social Return on Investment (SROI) metric, researchers were able to put a monetary value on increased employment for young people in the sector – which includes increased income tax revenues, better health and a reduction in welfare benefits.

The research reports on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project between LSBU and the Construction Youth Trust delivered in partnership with Willmott Dixon.

SROI analyst Jemma Bridgeman – who was the KTP Associate assigned by LSBU to the project - said: "This is the first time that anyone has been able to put a value on young people's future within the construction industry.

"The economic downturn had a devastating effect on construction, with 400,000 job losses and a plummet in the number of apprenticeships. At the same time local authorities and their contractors in the construction industry are required to explain how they will achieve social value as part of bids through the enactment of the Social Value Act 2012. However until now no standard model for SROI existed.

"We believe this new methodology will become standard practice in the industry as social value becomes a key consideration alongside price in the future."

The research that informed the SROI took place at the Summerfield Community Centre in Birmingham. The Construction Youth Trust and Willmott Dixon worked in partnership to deliver an Open College Network entry level practical construction skills course for eight young people. Six participants were not in education, employment or training at the start of the course and two were in part time employment.

The course culminated in the young people working alongside Willmott Dixon and Construction Youth Trust staff to carry out improvement works at the community centre. The SROI value of £1: £6.51 is based on investment of £5,000 from the Willmott Dixon Foundation and Willmott Dixon staff time valued at £5,800.

John Graham, Construction Youth Trust Head of Business Development, added: "Construction Youth Trust conducts research in partnership so that we can evaluate the value of our interventions; conduct research on behalf of industry; contribute to and influence the policy debate; and develop and share best practice.

"The real value to communities and to our economy of industry and expert-led community provision is more than simply financial – it is crucial we capture and share the soft and hard outcomes to evidence change. I'm proud that Construction Youth Trust has partnered to develop a methodology for the construction Industry to achieve this." 

As a result of the project, Jemma Bridgeman has been employed as a Wales Project Coordinator by Construction Youth Trust which has pledged to continue to work with the construction industry to develop the SROI methodology further.

An event to celebrate the launch of Construction Youth Trust's (SROI) model will be held at LSBU on Friday 15 May 2015.