A BOLTON building giant has warned that a lack of construction industry training and skills development poses an immediate threat to the Government’s ambitious plans to boost the availability of housing.

Although Plodder Lane-based Seddon has welcomed Chancellor George Osborne’s budget announcement that Government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme will be extended to 2020, it has also warned that a “construction skills gap” could restrict the delivery of new homes nationally.

The budget coincided with Christopher Seddon, director of Seddon Services Ltd, receiving an MBE for his services to apprenticeships and the community on Tuesday.

Seddon managing director and son of Christopher Seddon, Jonathan, said: “As a builder, Seddon is obviously pleased that the Government has extended its commitment to assisting first time buyers purchase new-build homes, plus the welcomed news to support plans for over 200,000 new homes for families.

“However, we are concerned that many in the industry continue to ignore what is an obvious barrier to the supply of new homes, particularly now the country is gearing up to start building again.

“As a family owned business Seddon has been able to make a commitment to apprenticeships and training throughout the recent lean years, and although I appreciate it’s been harder for some of our investor and shareholder owned competitors to justify this expense through the tough times, we all have to pull our weight to ensure we have people with the skills to deliver what’s being promised.

“We can’t just rely on sub-contractors to fill the void. Although education and colleges have an important role to play, there’s no substitute to getting people onsite and learning the core skills to do a job properly.”

Seddon is one of few large, national builders to retain a dedicated apprenticeship and training programme throughout the recent recession — and has maintained a commitment to training and developing an intake of young people for over 75 years.

In 2013, Seddon employed about 50 full-time apprentices and regularly receives 600 applications for each year’s intake, for a variety of roles — from brick layers and joiners to office support.

During the last 10 years Seddon has employed more than 225 apprentices — with a 95 per cent retention rate.

Mr Seddon added: “As a family and a business we’re all very proud of my father’s MBE, and his contribution and commitment to young people’s careers in this area — it’s in our DNA, and we’re a stronger business because of it.

“But it’s also a timely reminder to everyone in the industry that there’s a skills gap that we must all work to fill, and as a business we will continue to make our contribution whilst also lobbying our peers and Government at a national level.”