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Building Britain’s Apprentices

BigSkills campaign to boost Britain’s apprentices

This month, ConstructionSkills is focusing its BigSkills marketing campaign on boosting the number of apprentices in Britain.

Robert MacGregor, Business Support Manager for ConstructionSkills Apprentices said: “Everyone we speak to in the industry agrees that apprentices are the key to the future. Many businesses already suffer skills shortages and are worried about recruiting people who will bring the rights skills in the future. But each year, thousands of young people who want to start a career in the construction industry are turned away because few employers are willing to offer them a placement.”

He added: “Taking on an apprentice is a big decision but there are many practical reasons for taking on an apprentice. These reasons vary from business to business but we hear time after time that as well as helping to respond to increased workload, training apprentices provides a company with skilled, safe workers, who understand the need of their client base and work to their standards. Taking on apprentices demonstrates a commitment to training and for smaller businesses, it also offers the opportunity to think about long-term succession planning.”

Last year ConstructionSkills introduced a new type of apprenticeship in England called Programme-Led Apprenticeships (PLA). This is more appropriate to some businesses who can not provide a three- year commitment. The PLA requires a shorter-term commitment from employers - making it even easier to take on the right apprentice for a business.

Young people who are on a PLA have completed a full time college based construction course which enables them to gain their Intermediate Construction Award (ICA) and Key Skills Level 1 before completing the practical aspects required to attain NVQ Level 2 through a continuous placement of up to 12 months with an employer.

This new route to qualification provides the industry with an additional supply of new recruits, by increasing the number of employers who can take on an apprentice. It also supplies young people with a more diverse route to qualification and colleges with a clear progression route to offer to young people. ConstructionSkills provides grant support to employers taking on an apprentice – for each Programme-Led Apprentice, employers receive £3,000 in support.

Margaret Watson, from Preston based family building business Austin Watson Ltd, is keen to encourage other firms to take on apprentices. She said:

"Apprentices have always played an important role in the company, as we like to train our own staff and build the business from the bottom up. Taking on new entrants to the industry and overseeing their development is important to us as it means we are creating skilled workers who will learn to work to the high standards we demand.”

So, if your business is struggling to find staff with the right skills, you need an extra pair of hands, or you would like to help secure the future of your business by training a young person, there’s an apprentice out there for you. ConstructionSkills can advise on the type of apprentice best suited to your business, and guide them through the process from beginning to end – leaving your business stronger and in a better position to face the future as a result.

If you are thinking of taking on an apprentice, there are four points to consider:

  • Could taking on an apprentice help your business to expand and take on more work?
  • If you are growing your business, would another pair of hands help?
  • Does your business have the right range and scope of work for an apprentice and can you support their training needs?
  • Can your business afford to take on an apprentice? – Although they are in training, they still count as a member of staff.

ConstructionSkills can help you through the process of choosing the right person and supporting them through their placement. As well as access to the best local apprenticeships, ConstructionSkills provides ongoing mentoring and support, and up to £9,400 in financial grants.

For further information, visit or call 0844 844 0046 or fax 0844 844 0401.

To keep up to date with all the latest news on what ConstructionSkills is doing and find out more about how your company can get involved in helping secure the future of the UK construction industry register for the Skills Update

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