THE North-East construction industry has been boosted by a grant of more than £900,000 from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

The money, announced by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), will help the push to get more construction workers trained to professional standards.

A pilot scheme is being jointly run in the region by the LSC and the CITB to assess and train builders to NVQ level two or three.

The aim is to eventually have a fully qualified workforce by 2010.

Funding will be used to further develop the pilot known as the On-site Assessment and Training (OSAT) Programme which operates through a network of colleges and training providers.

Workers completing the programme receive NVQ qualifications and a card showing they are fully qualified to work in the industry.

Among those already involved in the North-East is Mowlem.

David Watson, building manager at Mowlem in Tyne and Wear, said: "OSAT reflects our policy of investing in people and gives our employees the opportunity of gaining a recognised qualification."