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Peabody chief Bob Kerslake warns of Brexit skills vulnerability

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Leading social-housing figure Bob Kerslake has urged London to develop its own architecture skills ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU

Kerslake, who is chair of Peabody housing association, was unveiling plans for a new training centre in the capital, and he warned the profession not to wait for ministers to protect them from the impacts of Brexit.

The crossbench peer and former Homes and Communities Agency chief executive was speaking at the MIPIM property fair in Cannes, as Peabody, the London Borough of Bexley and London South East Colleges unveiled proposals for the Place and Making Institute in Thamesmead.

The institute is planned as a centre of excellence for learning, research, innovation and enterprise related to the built environment sector. Proposals have been drawn up by Glasgow practice Keppie Design.

Kerslake said: ‘To build the number of homes we need, to the high quality that we want, is going to require highly skilled people across all the built environment professions.

‘But this shows how worryingly vulnerable we would be to a bad Brexit. There is already a skills gap, which would get materially worse.

‘We can’t wait for government to act. London has to start making its own plans for retaining and developing the vital skills it needs, from bricklayers to architects to urban designers.’

The proposed location for the Place and Making Institute, close to Abbey Wood Crossrail station and related development, is designed to give opportunities for learning on a live transformation project.

Bexley Council leader Teresa O’Neill said: ‘At a local, regional and national level, both small companies and large firms have spoken with us about the workforce challenges they face, potentially restricting their capacity to deliver good growth.

‘Recognising an opportunity to play a key role in overcoming these challenges, the London Borough of Bexley, Peabody and London South East Colleges have started to develop proposals for a Place and Making Institute.’ 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • John Kellett

    Dear Mr. Kerslake, there is NOT a shortage of British architects in the UK. There is a shortage of those willing to accept an income that has not materially kept pace with inflation for a decade.

    Every 'recession' hundreds are discarded with no thought for their future. There is also a surplus of un(der)qualified charlatans pretending to carry out our role and it is our profession that gets the blame when it goes wrong, even if we are not at fault.

    The even bigger problem is the fixation with London, there are plenty of fine practices outside the Capital. Unfortunately, their workload is being reduced by London practices undercutting sensible fees by underpaying their staff.

    Yes Brexit is bad and it is not the EU causing the problems that created it. The problems are homegrown and brought about by short-termism and the sad fear of experts, spread by the media.

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