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Money, Jobs and Training: How 21st Century Schools Boost Local Communities

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Four major Neath Port Talbot school building projects led to contracts for South West Wales businesses worth around £25m, created hundreds of jobs and helped get more than 100 people back into work.

These were just some of the community benefits associated with the construction of the £30m Ysgol Cwm Brombil in Margam (Bouygues UK), the £3.6m Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur Phase 2 (Dawnus Construction Ltd), the £19.3m Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Dur in Sandfields (Bouygues UK) and the £7m Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry (Kier Construction).

The four projects are the latest in Neath Port Talbot Council’s multi-million pound strategic school improvement programme.

A decade ago, the Council pledged to modernise educational provision across its schools and since then more than £123m has been ploughed into its educational estate – a massive investment in the Council’s next generations and the biggest of any Council in Wales outside of Cardiff.

Funding has come jointly from the Council and the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools Programme.

Addressing the Council’s Regeneration and Sustainable Development Board meeting on December 7th, Head of Property and Regeneration Simon Brennan outlined the community benefits of the four latest school building projects.

He said:

“Contracts totalling just under £25m were awarded to businesses based in South West Wales. In addition, companies based elsewhere in Wales secured more than £22m worth of work meaning 87% of the contracts were awarded to businesses in Wales.”

The builds were managed by the in-house Architectural Services Project Management Team of the Council’s Property and Regeneration section – all the contracts were completed on time and on budget.

The benefits included:

  • 420 Neath Port Talbot people working on the projects of which 127 were being helped back into work.
  • 78% of staff working on the sites coming from South West Wales.
  • 1,612 completed training weeks for local apprentices and trainees.
  • 51 work experience placements – 32 in education and 19 not in education.
  • More than 550 hours of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) engagements thanks to pupil interaction with the building schemes.

Kier Construction also carried out concrete works to help local dementia charity Me, Myself I based in Briton Ferry as part of the firm’s Ysgol Carreg Hir community initiatives.

The Port Talbot Women’s Aid Social Enterprise arm set up a canteen on the Ysgol Cwm Brombil site creating three jobs – a catering assistant, cook and cleaner. They also provided cleaning staff for Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Dur and Ysgol Carreg Hir.

As part of the conditions of the South West Wales Regional Construction Framework, local authorities now include targeted recruitment and training as a core requirement of tenders to promote the well-being of the local and wider economy.

Councillor Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development said:

“This positive approach to delivering community benefits from major construction projects has secured work for local contractors and employment opportunities for local people.

“As well as delivering 21st Century schools which means our young people have the best of starts, this system ploughs back a lot money and training into the communities where the building is taking place.”

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