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Building the Future: The Solution to Construction’s Skills Shortage


AccXel is a state-of-the-art centre of excellence to inspire, train and connect people entering and advancing within the UK construction industry.

Developed by the industry, for the industry, AccXel will accelerate learning and equip men and women with knowledge and practical experience of the latest technological advances in sustainability and digital construction.

Natalie Bell, the Growth & Partnership Director at AccXel chats to Business News Wales about how the company intends to advance the UK construction industry.

Natalie says:

“It’s all about getting people into construction but also, upskilling them. For us, it’s about proving that this is a rewarding career.”

AccXel was founded by Nicola Bird, third generation of a £80m construction company based in Gloucestershire. Nicola shares this new venture with Natalie (her sister) her father Pete and mother Yvonne.

Through discussions of succession planning, it became worryingly apparent that the skills and people are not available to support future growth plans for the business, or even maintain the current market share over the next 5- 10 years.

With a background in construction training and safety management, Nicola carried out business case studies over 4 years in development, creating a bespoke apprenticeship model which better suited the industry.

Over that period Nicola conducted many seminars and talks to industry to discover and grow what she had already discovered.

In October 2020, Nicola & K W Bell Group were awarded £1.96m by HM Government and GFirst LEP via the ‘Getting Building Fund’ to build and create AccXel, the UK’s first co-funded Construction Skills Accelerator Centre.

The state-of-the-art, £3m education centre has been established to address the severe skills shortage, compounded by the surge in nationwide construction.

AccXel will change the face of construction education through encouraging pupils, school leavers, career changers and career starters into construction, as well as upskilling those already in the industry.

In collaboration with education partners, qualifications at AccXel will range from NVQ L2 through to Postgraduate Degree and will provide education and training ranging from entry-level training programmes, through to management-level strategic business and personal development.

As the first co-funded, industry led education facility, and the first private company to receive public funds through the post-COVID ‘Get Building’ fund, AccXel is receiving National acclaim. But how does Natalie feel about people’s response to AccXel’s success?

“We’re delivering something that the construction industry needs and the traction that we’ve had, even before AccXel has opened is phenomenal!”

AccXel was cited by Forest of Dean MP, Mark Harper in the House of Commons in March 2021 and is being used as the exemplar in a White Paper to be put forward to Parliament for reformation to address our skills shortages.

With National press, sponsors and Parliament expectantly watching the establishment and evolution of AccXel, Natalie and the team are very excited to be at the forefront of change in construction – when it is most needed.