Case study: Kotuku Environmental Labourer Project (KELP)

West-London based Kotuku CIC is working hard to find innovative ways to promote sustainable resource management in the construction industry.  One way they are doing this is through the successful KELP programme that takes unemployed young people through training into green jobs in the construction industry.

Hammersmith and Fulham-20120709-00142

Working with JobCentre Plus, participants are taken through a two-week ‘environmental boot camp’ where they visit construction and waste facilities, learn about sustainability and gain practical skills in order to get their CSCC green card to work on construction sites.  They also achieve a Certificate of Environmental Awareness to mark them out as Environmental Labourers. Successful participants are then matched with pre-selected employers for a fixed term contract that meets national minimum wage requirements.

Two pilot schemes have been run with funding from Awards for All.  The first in July saw four attendees pass the course and start full time employment. A similar success rate was achieved in the second course in October. Two KELP’s have already had their first pay rise and their contracts extended. Central to the programme is continued support for all those who have attended the training.

Project Director Andrew Pears says: “Over 75% of labouring jobs advertising by Job Centre Plus in July 2012 required previous experience and 100% required a CSCS green card.  Lack of experience and the short term nature of many basic work positions give little incentive to come off benefits and create huge problems for the youth of today.  KELP aims to address these issues whilst providing an attractive proposition for employers in order to help more young people into the workforce”.

An early supporter of the scheme has been recycling company Powerday which held a training day for the young people at its materials recycling facility in North West London and provided one of the first placements. Simon Little, Powerday’s sales and marketing director, who delivered the training said: “This is a great initiative to provide training to people looking to join the waste and construction industries and to help us support local communities.  Other employers who have taken on young people coming through the course include MJ Lonsdale, Jerram Falkus Construction,

Following the success of the pilot schemes Kotuku have secured a BIG Lottery Grant to run ten full programmes over the next two years placing at least sixty young people in work. Project director Andrew Pears says “We learnt a huge amount from the pilot, particularly the abilities these young people have if encouraged and supported to develop them…It’s hugely rewarding to give these individuals an opportunity to get on the job ladder, to see them grasp the chance and move their lives forward.”

I visited Andrew a few months ago at a construction site in central London where he was delivering an environmental awareness presentation to workers as part of Kotuku’s café van man project which aims to green up the industry by raising awareness of resource efficiency in building, whilst providing all important coffee and snacks.  Talking to some of the guys after the presentation it was clear that the scheme was raising awareness of environmental issues in the sector.

For information about Kotuku and its projects contact Andrews Pears at

Tamsin Robertson, Green Jobs Caseworker, The Otesha Project UK


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