Alan Johnson, the secretary of state for education, declared this week that next year will be “the government’s year for skills” as he launched the National Skills Academy for Construction in London.

The minister made the statement on Monday at Bovis Lend Lease’s 201 Bishopsgate and Broadgate Tower project near Liverpool Street, where the first training site will be based.

The government plans to establish at least 30 more on large projects, including Olympic sites, over the next five years. Together they will form the construction skills academy.

Johnson said: “It is important for social progress that the workforce has the skills it needs, and skills academies are one of the most important projects involved in achieving that.”

Philip Hope, the skills minister, told Building that he believed the image of the industry had begun to change. He said: “There has been a problem in the past with construction not being seen as glamorous. But if you talk to a 16-year-old girl, she will often see the attractions of the industry, particularly in terms of wages.”

The academy will be funded by the government and employers, which are expected to contribute up to £7.5m.

It has been developed by CITB–ConstructionSkills in partnership with the industry.