SOUTH Essex has been handed a £1m boost which will create three construction centres in a bid to provide training for more than 1,600 people.

The three new ‘hubs’ will be set up at the Airport Business Park, Southend, Basildon town centre and Thurrock - all of which are close to existing construction sites - and will be up and running by 2020.

It comes after a successful bid by a number of south Essex local authorities to the Construction Skills Fund.

The councils plan to work with construction companies and subcontractors to find out which skills are most-needed.

James Courtenay, Southend Council cabinet member for growth, said: “This funding opportunity is fantastic news not only for Southend, but for the whole of south Essex.

“Locally, we will be working with over 40 different construction companies, all of whom will benefit through the provision of work and site-ready applicants for their construction vacancies.”

He added: “We have worked closely with agencies and organisations across the borough including HARP, local schools and colleges and also our partnering authorities.

"We are excited at this news and we look forward to creating a sustainable construction industry here in south Essex.”

George Ioannou, Rochford District Council’s portfolio holder for enterprise, added: “This funding will make a huge difference to the lives of 1,600 people who will be trained locally for jobs in the construction industry, as well as to the families they support.

“I am delighted that this opportunity will be offered on our doorstep at the Airport Business Park, a game-changing prime employment space which is set to provide new economic opportunities for south Essex.”

Andrew Schrader, chairman of the economic development and growth committee at Basildon Council, added: “As Basildon embarks on exciting regeneration projects such as the town’s state of the art cinema and dining complex in East Square, the council is committed to ensure local people are fully supported in accessing the job opportunities that will present themselves as a result of all major construction projects.

“This funding provides the ideal chance for local people to get in to the construction sector, regardless of their background, experience or qualifications.

Mark Coxshall, Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “We are incredibly excited to be working with our partners in south Essex on this excellent initiative, which we hope will help ensure local jobs for local people.”

Chas Mumford, Castle Point Council's cabinet member for regeneration and business liaison, said companies had been finding it difficult to recruit people with the correct skills and the new initiative could lead to "strong outcomes".