University scheme set up for unemployed quantity surveyors, architects, planners and construction managers

London's built environment professionals hit by the economic downturn are to get an opportunity to boost their skills at Westminster University following a £400,000 government grant.

The university will be launching a programme offering support and skills enhancement to unemployed quantity surveyors, architects, planners, construction managers and related built environment professionals - as well as new graduates unable to find work.

Professor Geoff Petts, university vice-chancellor, said: "Working with Westminster City Council and the professional bodies, we will be making a significant contribution to making sure there are professionals ready in the capital with the necessary skills to take advantage of opportunities when the economic upturn takes place."

The programme, which has been established in conjunction with Westminster City Council and built environment professional bodies such as the RIBA and RICS, is funded under the national £50m Economic Challenge Investment Fund.

Skills enhancement offered will focus on helping those involved play a future role in projects to develop more sustainable communities in the capital.

The successful bid to the ECIF came about following collaboration between SABE, Westminster Business School, Electronics and Computer Science and CaSE Services for Students with Disabilities.

The bid was co-ordinated by the university's Centre for Excellence in Professional Learning from the Workplace.

The initiative also has the support of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Construction Industries Council, business group London First and the Linking London Lifelong Learning Network.

The grant for the project will be match-funded by the university and partner organisations. The scheme will be formally launched on 22 July.