London | King's Cross

King's Cross Constructions Skills Centre

Long term regeneration projects and  construction programmes (10-30 years)  provide the opportunity to create pathways to employment for local people which has the capacity to represent a substantial and sustainable employment during the development period. A construction skills center is a way of building capacity of local people to benefit from employment opportunities presented by development. The King’s Cross Construction Skills centre (KXCSC) delivers training and accreditation in construction skills (such as carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing and electrics) to local people living in and around the development site and provides pathways into paid work with contractors constructing the development.


The KXCSC was developed and implemented by a cross sector partnership comprising the following stakeholders and roles:

  • Developers Argent (landowners, funders)

  • Camden Council  (local authority, funding and ongoing operations)

  • Islington Council (local authority, funding, planning)

  • Contractors (providing employment opportunities)

  • College of North West London (delivering the training, eEducation, Accreditation and Funding) 

  • Local residents (participating in the training mostly late teens, early 20’s, but also people of all ages - mostly male)


The aim of the KXCSC  was to provide  construction training, accreditation and job opportunities for people who live in and around the Kings Cross  area, with an emphasis on young people . It is most often a pathway into jobs in construction, such as carpentry, plumbing, electrics and bricklaying, but can also provide a pathway into other areas of employment.

The initial remit of the KXCSC was to only work with the King’s Cross site but they have broadened their outlook to provide opportunities across both Camden and Islington Boroughs. According to the KXCSC, the versatility of the offer has been absolutely critical for Camden council in supporting other local projects, but also as a facility supporting the community and being able to respond to differing needs. The impact of the KXCSC has been:

  • Local construction training and employment increased in such trades as carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing and electrics;

  • Local KXCSC became well known locally, nationally and internationally;

  • Employment opportunities for local and unemployed construction workers;

  • Environmental benefits relating to promotion of BREEAM buildings, energy, and sustainable construction methods;

  • Good promotion for LB Camden.


Pre-dating the KXCSC the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB), landowners LCR and the King’s Cross Partnership (KCP) had already established a training programme on site with the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. This was a successful test to embed local construction training into the project and Kings Cross developers Argent agreed to provide funding to ensure it continued - a dedicated temporary Construction Skills Centre was built on land belonging to Argent on York Way.

Most developers (in the UK) are willing to incorporate an element of local training for construction jobs into their project but developers often pass on this obligation to their contractors who agree to comply as long as they are able to choose who they take on as trainees. This often means that contractors easily reject candidates as unsuitable (due to school grades or no previous experience) and are often actively prejudiced against some local youth. In Kings Cross, the creation of a dedicated Construction Skills Centre enabled buy-in from the multiple partners, and a dedicated commitment to local training and employment. It worked well connecting into already established local networks such as charities, community associations and youth centres who are familiar with current residents.

To overcome contractors’ reluctance to employ local people in King’s Cross, a partnership model was adopted. The partnership acted as an intermediary between business and the community, and was trusted because it didn’t put anyone forward for a job unless it was convinced they had the skills and aptitude to succeed. The KXCSC was a success and after the S106 agreement was signed (S106 is an agreement between developers and local government that releases funds for projects to benefit communities impacted by development) Argent and Camden Council agreed to increase the size of the KXCSC , sharing the additional costs between them.

It was considered important early on in the S106 negotiations for the KXCSC to have a dedicated building within the development site. The site put forward by Argent was The Triangle, a complex site between two rail tracks to the North East of the development site. This location is the only part of the King’s Cross development that lies within London Borough of Islington and not London Borough of Camden.