Michael Dibden

Unemployed reaping benefits of housing PFI

Wates Living Space has given jobs to 26 previously unemployed people since it began work on the £113m Gateways to Oldham residential project in December.

Wates is building 317 new homes and refurbishing a further 322 for Oldham Council through the Inspiral consortium, which also includes Regenter and Great Places Housing Group. The agreement for the 25-year private finance initiative was signed in November 2011.

Pedro VicenteThe contractor said further job opportunities would become available for local people within Wates' supply chain, totalling 1,239 weeks paid employment. Unpaid placements will also be provided, totalling 312 weeks. Roles include junior engineers, site labourers, site administrators, joiners and CAD designers.

Wates is working with J21, a local labour initiative that aims to address construction skills shortages and support local economies, as well as Oldham College and Hopwood Hall College.

Steve Jackson, regional managing director of Wates Living Space, said: "I am pleased to see we are already making a significant impact in the borough, transforming communities through both physical and social regeneration."

Michael Dibden from Chadderton is now a site labourer on Primrose Bank. He says: "It's great to be given the chance to work on what is such a big and important project for my home town. I've been made to feel really welcome and have already learned such a lot from the Wates team. This was the career kick-start I was looking for."

Pedro Vicente from Royton is working with Wates' subcontractor, Stockley, as a CAD technician. He commented: "It is very rewarding to know that I am part of a team that is working toward a better Oldham. I feel very happy that the result of this work will provide many families with a better home, neighbourhood and hopefully a better life."

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