Skanska has been chosen as preferred bidder for the £1bn Essex Building Schools for the Future programme

The job, the second-biggest BSF scheme after Kent, will include developing, constructing and maintaining three schools for Essex council. Work is due to start in 2011.

News of the decision will come as a relief to staff at the contractor, who had been warned they could face redundancy if the bid failed.

Last month Mike Putnam, Skanska UK’s president, sent an internal memo to staff which said: “Regrettably, if we are not successful at winning additional work in the short term, a number of roles will become redundant during 2010.”

Before the Essex deal, Skanska is understood to have won one out of the four BSF projects it had bid for. It is understood to have spent £6m bidding for a £477m deal in Kent, which it lost to Kier.