Saint-Gobain, in association with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is launching a new Entrepreneurship Foundation to help small businesses embrace sustainable building.

The new initiative will help small businesses in the construction industry to grow and embrace the challenge of sustainable building, through benefitting from free training, mentoring and support.

Designed for companies with up to six employees and a turnover of under £350,000, the Saint-Gobain Entrepreneurship Foundation will provide 12 months of free practical training in the latest construction materials and techniques, as well as support and guidance on how to manage and grow a business. Areas covered will include business finance, marketing, customer service and health and safety.

The Foundation is part of Saint-Gobain's 'Support for the Industry' initiative, which is laid out in its CSR strategy, and will help chosen businesses grow faster and embrace new techniques and technologies.

Companies must have been trading with a Saint-Gobain brand for six months prior to application and, if successful, will benefit from enhanced links with specific Saint-Gobain businesses, opening the way to new business opportunities.

Up to 25 companies could be chosen for the pioneering 'Class of 2015', although the final number will be determined by the quality of entry and may be smaller.

Practical training sessions will take place at Saint-Gobain’s Technical Academy in Flitwick, Bedfordshire and the Greenworks Training Academy in Birmingham, although places are open to companies throughout the UK and Ireland. A parallel Foundation will be launched specifically in Scotland later in 2015.

The Saint-Gobain Entrepreneurship Foundation was established to help address the emerging skills shortage in the industry, as a high proportion of construction workers will reach retirement age in the next five years. Saint-Gobain believes fast growing small companies are job creators and can be innovative and resourceful in attracting new talent into the sector.

Over the next five years, the Foundation aims to support over 200 growing businesses that have the potential to employ thousands more people if they grow successfully as a result of their own drive, alongside support from the Foundation.

Peter Hindle MBE, senior vice president for sustainable habitat and general delegate Saint-Gobain UK, Ireland & South Africa, said: "The Entrepreneurship Foundation represents a new long-term commitment to support small businesses in the UK and Ireland, and builds on the work we have done for many years in providing skills and advice to the trade. The Foundation will create a network that is committed to and has the skills to create a sustainable built environment.

"Beyond the year-long support we will provide these entrepreneurs, we hope to continue to have a long-term relationship with them, and hope the 'Class of 2015' will provide support and advice to those the Foundation supports in future years. As we are celebrating our 350th anniversary, it is only right that we look to the future and help develop smaller businesses that will ensure the construction sector is vibrant for the next century and beyond. This is all part of our 'Support for Industry' pledge, which is a central plank in our CSR strategy."

By partnering with CITB to provide the core training, the Entrepreneurship Foundation courses will be of a high quality and will address a wide range of topics around managing and constructing a sustainable built environment in an innovative, efficient, safe and profitable way.

More information on the Foundation is available at: