The government is to stump up £40m to fund four national skills centres to address labour shortages across UK industry, ministers announced this week.

Construction is one of four sectors to be selected out of a shortlist of 23 for a national academy. The others are manufacturing, financial services and food and drink.

The construction centre will involve four training venues and two mobile units co-ordinated from a central headquarters, and will be in operation in time to support the Olympic construction programme.

Ruth Kelly, the secretary of state for Education and Skills announced the move, saying: “In the past, government has let down employers when it has tried to second-guess what sectors need. But employers have been guilty of watching initiatives from the sidelines.”

The initiative is backed by leading firms, including Bovis Lend Lease, Kier Homes and Carillion.